Outlining Tips

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OneEl14
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Outlining Tips

Postby OneEl14 » Sat Sep 10, 2011 7:04 pm

Can anyone share some outlining tips? I've tried making and outline and I feel like it's too long. How do you know if it's important enough to include on the outline? Should there only be rules and exceptions/qualifications/defenses to the rules? Or should we have parts about the underlying policy? Do we put in the cases? If so how in-depth do we need to be?

Thanks for any help.

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JusticeHarlan
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Re: Outlining Tips

Postby JusticeHarlan » Sat Sep 10, 2011 7:15 pm

Depends on the professor: some could care less about case names or policy, some eat it up. Talk to 2/3Ls who've had your profs before.

OneEl14
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Re: Outlining Tips

Postby OneEl14 » Sat Sep 10, 2011 7:21 pm

JusticeHarlan wrote:Depends on the professor: some could care less about case names or policy, some eat it up. Talk to 2/3Ls who've had your profs before.


Gotcha, thanks. So I guess just assume for the average professor, what kind of stuff am I going to want on there and in what level of detail?

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JusticeHarlan
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Re: Outlining Tips

Postby JusticeHarlan » Sat Sep 10, 2011 7:42 pm

OneEl14 wrote:
JusticeHarlan wrote:Depends on the professor: some could care less about case names or policy, some eat it up. Talk to 2/3Ls who've had your profs before.


Gotcha, thanks. So I guess just assume for the average professor, what kind of stuff am I going to want on there and in what level of detail?

Depends on what they stress in class. The more they talk policy, the more you should know it (and therefore have it in an outline), for example.

I know it's rough trying to get a definitive answers; one of the worst parts about 1L is not knowing if you're doing it right until your first semester grades come in. But there really aren't one-size-fits-all answers, and getting too tied down to one way of doing things based on the experience of someone from a different school can be dangerous.

That said, at this point I'd probably aim for over-inclusiveness rather than under. Taking a practice test with a small group can be a good sense of if you're finding the right things.

Another question: how deep are you into the semester? Most people will tell you not to outline too early. You'll get a better sense of the class as you get further in, and that can be helpful in seeing what's important.

somethingdemure
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Re: Outlining Tips

Postby somethingdemure » Sat Sep 10, 2011 7:45 pm

I think it's a little too early to be outlining in the way you're doing it. At this point, you can spend some of your time usefully by just synthesizing your notes and trying to make sure you really understand the point of the class topic. So include just about everything, unless you are sure (you yourself are sure, not because someone told you) that it's unimportant. I found that a good portion of my notes were useless for a variety of reasons - they were anecdotes, repetition of something I already knew that the professor was clarifying, stuff that was just not related to the "gist" of the class period. So, to answer your question, at this point you can probably err on the side of overinclusiveness.

As you move closer to finals, you'll want to go back over everything again and ask yourself critically, at every line, how important this is to your overall understanding of the topic. Is this line a "fun fact" or a vital component in your reasoning? Try to look for ongoing policy themes across topics and note them, maybe on an attack outline (although if it's a policy theme your professor never explicitly touched in class, run it by him/her just to make sure you aren't totally wrong) - even a non-policy-oriented professor will enjoy reading an answer that appreciates the policy s/he was trying to stress.

And always remember as you outline - the point of outlining is NOT to have an outline for the test; the process of synthesizing information and readying yourself to discuss legal topics intelligibly, in your own words, is the point of outlining. If your "outlining" is not following that form, I bet you're doing it wrong.

OneEl14
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Re: Outlining Tips

Postby OneEl14 » Sat Sep 10, 2011 7:49 pm

JusticeHarlan wrote:
OneEl14 wrote:
JusticeHarlan wrote:Depends on the professor: some could care less about case names or policy, some eat it up. Talk to 2/3Ls who've had your profs before.


Gotcha, thanks. So I guess just assume for the average professor, what kind of stuff am I going to want on there and in what level of detail?

Depends on what they stress in class. The more they talk policy, the more you should know it (and therefore have it in an outline), for example.

I know it's rough trying to get a definitive answers; one of the worst parts about 1L is not knowing if you're doing it right until your first semester grades come in. But there really aren't one-size-fits-all answers, and getting too tied down to one way of doing things based on the experience of someone from a different school can be dangerous.

That said, at this point I'd probably aim for over-inclusiveness rather than under. Taking a practice test with a small group can be a good sense of if you're finding the right things.

Another question: how deep are you into the semester? Most people will tell you not to outline too early. You'll get a better sense of the class as you get further in, and that can be helpful in seeing what's important.


I've finished the 2nd weekend am starting my 3rd week on Monday. Thanks for the advice. I can definitely tell that my property professor emphasizes policy a good amount. Not quite sure on my other classes though. Think it's too early to start outlining? I've been reading the E&E for torts and taking notes and I feel like it pretty much amounts to an outline. I wonder if I should start from scratch or just start with my E&E notes and adding in the specific cases from class.

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JusticeHarlan
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Re: Outlining Tips

Postby JusticeHarlan » Sat Sep 10, 2011 8:38 pm

somethingdemure wrote:I think it's a little too early to be outlining in the way you're doing it. At this point, you can spend some of your time usefully by just synthesizing your notes and trying to make sure you really understand the point of the class topic. So include just about everything, unless you are sure (you yourself are sure, not because someone told you) that it's unimportant. I found that a good portion of my notes were useless for a variety of reasons - they were anecdotes, repetition of something I already knew that the professor was clarifying, stuff that was just not related to the "gist" of the class period. So, to answer your question, at this point you can probably err on the side of overinclusiveness.

As you move closer to finals, you'll want to go back over everything again and ask yourself critically, at every line, how important this is to your overall understanding of the topic. Is this line a "fun fact" or a vital component in your reasoning? Try to look for ongoing policy themes across topics and note them, maybe on an attack outline (although if it's a policy theme your professor never explicitly touched in class, run it by him/her just to make sure you aren't totally wrong) - even a non-policy-oriented professor will enjoy reading an answer that appreciates the policy s/he was trying to stress.

And always remember as you outline - the point of outlining is NOT to have an outline for the test; the process of synthesizing information and readying yourself to discuss legal topics intelligibly, in your own words, is the point of outlining. If your "outlining" is not following that form, I bet you're doing it wrong.

+1 great advice, all of it. You can be taking great notes now, OP, but hold off putting everything together in an outline for now.

Remember, the outline is a tool, a tool, not an end in itself.

OneEl14
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Sep 03, 2011 1:09 am

Re: Outlining Tips

Postby OneEl14 » Sat Sep 10, 2011 8:42 pm

JusticeHarlan wrote:
somethingdemure wrote:I think it's a little too early to be outlining in the way you're doing it. At this point, you can spend some of your time usefully by just synthesizing your notes and trying to make sure you really understand the point of the class topic. So include just about everything, unless you are sure (you yourself are sure, not because someone told you) that it's unimportant. I found that a good portion of my notes were useless for a variety of reasons - they were anecdotes, repetition of something I already knew that the professor was clarifying, stuff that was just not related to the "gist" of the class period. So, to answer your question, at this point you can probably err on the side of overinclusiveness.

As you move closer to finals, you'll want to go back over everything again and ask yourself critically, at every line, how important this is to your overall understanding of the topic. Is this line a "fun fact" or a vital component in your reasoning? Try to look for ongoing policy themes across topics and note them, maybe on an attack outline (although if it's a policy theme your professor never explicitly touched in class, run it by him/her just to make sure you aren't totally wrong) - even a non-policy-oriented professor will enjoy reading an answer that appreciates the policy s/he was trying to stress.

And always remember as you outline - the point of outlining is NOT to have an outline for the test; the process of synthesizing information and readying yourself to discuss legal topics intelligibly, in your own words, is the point of outlining. If your "outlining" is not following that form, I bet you're doing it wrong.

+1 great advice, all of it. You can be taking great notes now, OP, but hold off putting everything together in an outline for now.

Remember, the outline is a tool, a tool, not an end in itself.


Great. Thanks so much for the posts guys!

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shepdawg
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Re: Outlining Tips

Postby shepdawg » Mon Sep 12, 2011 1:54 am

Link
Last edited by shepdawg on Sun Dec 18, 2011 5:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

OneEl14
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Sep 03, 2011 1:09 am

Re: Outlining Tips

Postby OneEl14 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:51 am

shepdawg wrote:I wrote a how to guide for outlining and have it posted here:
--LinkRemoved--
Click the image of a tiny section of an outline to view it better and see the explanations and notes.


Great, thank you so much for sharing Shepdawg!




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