Preparing and Outlining for Law School

Preparing and Outlining for Law School

Reading and Preparing

  • Be on time! This is something that goes without saying, but there are always a couple of people who need the reminder. You’re training to be an attorney, so learn to be on time.
  • Prepare to participate: Don’t go into to class and hope that you don’t get called on
    1. Check your questions- how do the cases connect? The cases are leaves that create a forest
    2. The only stupid questions are the ones you did not ask!
  • If you encounter a word that you do not know, then look it up immediately! It usually helps you to understand the material better. You are learning a new language—keep that in mind
  • Brief the cases: Click here for a template (Just do it! Do not book brief!)
    1. Understand the analysis, framework, and doctrine
    2. The most important part is how the court reached their conclusion. What did the court not say? What influenced the court’ s decision?
      1. ***NOTE: This is not undergrad where you’re tested for knowledge

Time Management

  • About midway through a semester, take time to reevaluate your study schedule, and decide where you need to make changes (Wake up earlier, go to bed earlier, 30 min lunch, etc.)
  • Make time to go to class prepared
  • Accountability Partner: Someone who you plan to meet with in the morning to prepare. This doesn’t always mean that you prepare together…It could just mean that. This person could also be someone that holds you accountable to go to the gym


Note Taking                                   

  • Stuck with what made you successful in undergrad
    1. If you wrote your notes by hand, stick with it. If you typed your notes, stick with it.


  • Do the work on the front end! Outline a chapter as soon as you are done reviewing it.
  • Using other people’s outlines is not as useful as creating your own
  • The purpose of the outline is not to need it
  • Remember, in undergrad, you were tested on knowledge. In law school, you are tested on you application of your knowledge, also known as ANALYSIS.
    • Therefore it is impossible “cram.” You have to genuinely know the material.
  • Put something together that helps you to understand the “leaves, trees, forests”
    1. You can do this by using the course syllabus or the table of contents from your textbook and then adjust it according to the order your professor has instructed
      1. Add rules, issues, factual constructions, “Buzzwords” (words your professor uses to describe parts of a case)
    2. Also, include factual situations.
      1. Ex: There are only so many factual situations that create a trespass. It will always include someone entering upon the land of another.
      2. Then think to yourself ‘If the professor wants to test this issue, what does she look for in an answer’
  • Practice questions are the most important
    1. Outline your answers and compare it to the model answer. Closer to the exam, start writing it out and taking the exam under timed condition.
Study Groups Social Support Groups
·         Does not have to include the same people as the social support groups

·         Good for feedback

·         Good for checking your understanding

·         Come prepared to the study group

·         Avoid leeches aka people who want to take advantage of your hard work

·         Hang out

·         Law school can be an isolating experience. It’s good to be social

·         These people are in the same academic situation, so sometimes it is good to just talk about the experience


Law school Exams: Practice application
You want to upset the curve, don’t have the curve set upon you
is for Analysis
is for Conclusion – If you provide conclusions, and barely any analysis, be prepared for a C.

C Excuses for not taking a Practice Exam
1. I don’t have time
2. I’ll take it after I know everything
Wrong!  Part of taking the practice exam is to learn from the mistakes that you make in the practice exam. If you wait until the end of the semester to take a practice exam, then you are setting yourself up for a C.

When grading your exams, use the practice-exam-student-self-assessment-form. Anything new, that is extracted from this exam should be added into your outline

Day of the Exam
Think of your exams as the younger sibling to the LSAT, and prepare in the same way
– Eat a good breakfast
– Have your writing utensils, exam materials (if permitted), and outfit prepped the night before

 Click here for more tips