Value of Outlines

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
carsondalywashere
Posts: 439
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:33 pm

Value of Outlines

Postby carsondalywashere » Tue Sep 19, 2017 2:25 pm

I've had an opportunity to look at a few outlines and old exams. It seems that most people focus on BLL for their outlines, and leave very little info in about cases and policy arguments. Is this because you should pretty much have this material learned so you can apply it on the exam without having to look it up?

User avatar
pancakes3
Posts: 5717
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2014 2:49 pm

Re: Value of Outlines

Postby pancakes3 » Tue Sep 19, 2017 3:51 pm

profs rarely require case cites and policy arguments are so intuitive/trivial that you don't need to waste space on an outline (you can if you want. some ppl do).

memorizing BLL is 50% of the exam. the other half is taking the fact pattern that your prof gives you and picking out the relevant facts that fit (or don't fit) the BLL.

tomwatts
Posts: 1686
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2009 12:01 am

Re: Value of Outlines

Postby tomwatts » Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:35 pm

Depending on the professor, it might be useful to have a basic grasp (like, 2-3 sentences' worth) of the facts of a case in case you need to distinguish or make an argument of the form [x] case is the law here rather than [y] case because [x] case's facts are more similar.

If the professor really likes certain policy arguments or thinks that they're important, you want to have those in your outline too. It depends on the professor and the class, though; my rule of thumb is that if they emphasize something in an in-class discussion, it probably doesn't hurt to have it in your back pocket for an exam.

cavalier1138
Posts: 4295
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2016 8:01 pm

Re: Value of Outlines

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:11 pm

Yeah, I actually strongly disagree with the idea that cases shouldn't be on your outline. You don't need to know the names of cases, but being able to compare fact patterns to existing caselaw is a gold mine for getting points on any exam where the law is defined through precedent rather than statute.

User avatar
The_Lorax
Posts: 139
Joined: Tue Feb 02, 2016 4:43 pm

Re: Value of Outlines

Postby The_Lorax » Tue Sep 19, 2017 7:14 pm

To echo watts above, I think best in terms of concepts (ie BLL) so I mostly have that, with cases underneath each principle as an example with a sentence, maybe 2 of facts. Then under each concept I (if it comes up in class especially) will sometimes have a "rationale" or "policy" section just in case it comes up.

To be honest though I almost never use my full outline, but rather synthesize it down to somewhere from 5-8 pages which I hone while doing practice exams. I find it helps with memory and is far more useful on the actual exam. What you need on an outline might be different than others though, so best way to find out what works for you is hammering practice exams

User avatar
Nebby
amateur huffpo
Posts: 29512
Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2014 12:23 pm

Re: Value of Outlines

Postby Nebby » Tue Sep 19, 2017 7:18 pm

Use Lexis or Westlaw headnotes for the important holdings from the main cases (the cases they get their own heading and aren't in the notes). It'll save time

carsondalywashere
Posts: 439
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:33 pm

Re: Value of Outlines

Postby carsondalywashere » Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:32 pm

pancakes3 wrote:profs rarely require case cites and policy arguments are so intuitive/trivial that you don't need to waste space on an outline (you can if you want. some ppl do).

memorizing BLL is 50% of the exam. the other half is taking the fact pattern that your prof gives you and picking out the relevant facts that fit (or don't fit) the BLL.

So basically make your an outline a tool to help you memorize BLL?

carsondalywashere
Posts: 439
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:33 pm

Re: Value of Outlines

Postby carsondalywashere » Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:33 pm

tomwatts wrote:Depending on the professor, it might be useful to have a basic grasp (like, 2-3 sentences' worth) of the facts of a case in case you need to distinguish or make an argument of the form [x] case is the law here rather than [y] case because [x] case's facts are more similar.

If the professor really likes certain policy arguments or thinks that they're important, you want to have those in your outline too. It depends on the professor and the class, though; my rule of thumb is that if they emphasize something in an in-class discussion, it probably doesn't hurt to have it in your back pocket for an exam.

So the facts are probably more important the rule/holding?

I definitely have some classes where I see policy becoming an important issue

carsondalywashere
Posts: 439
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:33 pm

Re: Value of Outlines

Postby carsondalywashere » Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:34 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:Yeah, I actually strongly disagree with the idea that cases shouldn't be on your outline. You don't need to know the names of cases, but being able to compare fact patterns to existing caselaw is a gold mine for getting points on any exam where the law is defined through precedent rather than statute.

So this would be especially true for a class like Property? Almost everything we've done is through the common law

carsondalywashere
Posts: 439
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:33 pm

Re: Value of Outlines

Postby carsondalywashere » Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:35 pm

The_Lorax wrote:To echo watts above, I think best in terms of concepts (ie BLL) so I mostly have that, with cases underneath each principle as an example with a sentence, maybe 2 of facts. Then under each concept I (if it comes up in class especially) will sometimes have a "rationale" or "policy" section just in case it comes up.

To be honest though I almost never use my full outline, but rather synthesize it down to somewhere from 5-8 pages which I hone while doing practice exams. I find it helps with memory and is far more useful on the actual exam. What you need on an outline might be different than others though, so best way to find out what works for you is hammering practice exams

Definitely planning on starting with a big outline, and then working on cutting it down. Will this occur naturally from taking practice exams?

carsondalywashere
Posts: 439
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 7:33 pm

Re: Value of Outlines

Postby carsondalywashere » Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:37 pm

Nebby wrote:Use Lexis or Westlaw headnotes for the important holdings from the main cases (the cases they get their own heading and aren't in the notes). It'll save time

Definitely will check this out!

cavalier1138
Posts: 4295
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2016 8:01 pm

Re: Value of Outlines

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:44 pm

carsondalywashere wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:Yeah, I actually strongly disagree with the idea that cases shouldn't be on your outline. You don't need to know the names of cases, but being able to compare fact patterns to existing caselaw is a gold mine for getting points on any exam where the law is defined through precedent rather than statute.

So this would be especially true for a class like Property? Almost everything we've done is through the common law


It depends on the professor, but if your professor generally teaches through the caselaw, then yes, I would make it a point to know the facts of the key cases.

tomwatts
Posts: 1686
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2009 12:01 am

Re: Value of Outlines

Postby tomwatts » Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:54 pm

carsondalywashere wrote:So the facts are probably more important the rule/holding?

It is almost never true that the facts are more important than the rule/holding. You need the rule/holding for sure. You may also need the facts to know when the rule/holding does or doesn't apply.

carsondalywashere wrote:I definitely have some classes where I see policy becoming an important issue

Not uncommon. You may also need these policy justifications to know when the rule/holding does or doesn't apply.




Return to “Ask a Law Student / Graduate”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Exabot [Bot], jacketyellow, nyc2dc, sparkytrainer and 13 guests