As the semester winds down, inevitably your attention will turn to writing your law school outline for each course.
An outline will help you learn course material not only as a study tool when it’s completed but also as a way for you to allow the information to sink in as you’re preparing each page. While you may find it helpful to look at examples, it’s highly recommended you compile your own outline for each course using the following materials:
Use your syllabus.
Your professor’s syllabus will let you know exactly the subjects that may appear on your final exam. You should be able to create a working template for your outline based on the syllabus and the general IRAC format, although in this situation, the C will stand for “case summaries,” and you’ll include short summaries of the important cases for that issue.
Use your class notes.
Once you have your template laid out, you should go through your class notes and fill in blanks with important information for the issue, rule, analysis, and case summaries.
Consult hornbooks or commercial study aids.
These materials can be quite useful if there are particular areas of law you still do not understand after filling in your outline. Go through the outside study aids and either photocopy or remove only those pages that cover subjects that your professor covered in class; use them to fill in any missing information in your outline if it helps you understand the concepts.
- Don't wait until reading period to being your law school outlines. You want to use that time to study, so your outlines should be nearly completed by the time classes end.
- Although study groups can be helpful for working through aspects of the material that you're struggling with, you should prepare your outline on your own. You can then go and compare and contrast with other students -- but you should do so only after yours is done.
- Your overall goal in creating a law school outline is to synthesize your semester’s notes into a cohesive document that you can use as your study guide for the major areas of law covered in the course. The “big picture” is important as you will be asked to spot legal issues on the exam and analyze them based on how they intersect with one another.
- If your outline is much more than 15 pages, you should go back and cut it down; you probably still have a lot in there that isn't getting to the heart of the issues that will be tested.
What You Need
- Syllabus and other handouts
- Class notes
- Case briefs you've prepared
- Hornbooks or other commercial study aids