How to Make a Law School Outline

Transcript

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Welcome to LearnLawBetter.
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In this episode I will provide you with some advice on what to include and exclude from your law
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school outlines.
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By following these simple steps you will position yourself to get the highest grades that you
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can by crushing the final exam.
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Hi, this is Beau Baez, and today I want to share with you some tips on how to make a
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great law school outline.
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Your outline is, nothing more and nothing less, than your blueprint for doing well on
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the exam.
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This means understanding law school exam grading, which I cover in detail in the episode called
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“Law School Exam Grading.”
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First, let’s discuss what you should not do when creating an outline.
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A mistake that many law students make is to take their class notes, rearrange them a bit,
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and then place them into their outline.
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That is not an outline, but a rather rearranged notes.
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Also, don’t include facts from a case in the outline.
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The only thing you need in this outline are the rules from the cases.
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So now let’s talk about what should go into an outline.
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The first thing you need is a framework for the course.
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I recommend that you take the table of contents from your assigned book, or the course syllabus,
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and use that as a starting point.
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You might change the format as you go along, but you need to get something to get you going.
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Second, place the rules that you learned into the outline.
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The rules and exceptions to the rules need to be as concise as possible, and written
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in your own words.
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For example, suppose you have a case from 1894 and the case states the rule as follows: the wrong inflicted,
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when the defendant so did with intent, and with force that contacted the victim’s person,
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must result in adequate compensation for that injury.
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Now let’s take that archaic language and write something like this: A defendant’s intentional action
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will result in the defendant paying for all damages. So see what I did, I took
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that old language, we rearranged it and we turned it into something that we can understand today.
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Third, if the professor tells you, or strongly hints that something is going to be on the
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exam, then make a note of that in your outline.
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Fourth, if you know your professor will test you on policy, place the policy arguments in the
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outline.
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More on what to transfer from your class notes in the episode called “Taking Notes in Law
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School: The Content.”
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Fifth, think about the size of your outline.
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Since the outline is the primary tool you’ll be using to crush your final, it has to
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be useable.
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This means short and to the point rule statements that you can use on the exam.
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Think about it.
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You will remember a 15 word rule statement a lot better than a 22 word rule statement.
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Finally, when you have worked as hard as you can and you believe you have the perfect outline,
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then, and only then, look at an outline that someone else created.
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As I noted in my last episode, “Why Create Your Own Law School Outlines,” it is critically
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important that you first work on the outline by yourself because that will help you learn
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the law better.
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When you see differences in the two outlines, don’t just make the changes.
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Think about the differences.
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Ask yourself, why is there a difference?
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You may find that your outline that you wrote is better in a particular area , or, you may find that you missed something.
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When you discover your errors, go back and find out why you made those errors as that
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will reveal gaps in your knowledge, and potentially, in your understanding of the law.
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If you stop and reflect, you will learn the law in a way that will help you get a higher
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score on the exam.
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Those who rely solely, or heavily, on commercial outlines created by others create the illusion that
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they know the law.
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But they are failing to make the connections that are necessary to get high grades.
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If you’d like to see more episodes that can help you succeed, hit the subscribe button.
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Also, don’t forget to check out LearnLawBetter.com where you will find more resources to help
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you succeed, including my blog, newsletter, and exam bank.
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Thanks for watching.