What goes in an outline?

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What goes in an outline?

Postby swimmer11 » Tue Aug 28, 2012 9:46 pm

Can someone quickly explain to me what goes into an outline. I have around 5 pages for one of my classes and I have only had it twice. I am concerned I am putting in way more than needed. I always try and go back and cut stuff out but I do not know what to cut out.

I generally have: Cases we read and the rule/holding of the case, any policy implications brought up in the casebook/supplements/professor, BLL, I try and identify forks in the law/facts per one of the article's advice on here I read (Can't remember author), and anything else I think I might use to form an argument come "game time".

I do not want to look at past exams just yet (or maybe I should?). However, would I be able to determine what should consist the bulk of my outlining from analyzing the syllabus?

Just a lost 1L trying to get it together.


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Re: What goes in an outline?

Postby LAWYER2 » Tue Aug 28, 2012 11:38 pm

Look at outlines from upperclassmen, commercial etc, contrast and compare to yours.
IMO, it's too early to outline, but at least you can get your structure down packed and continue on.

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Re: What goes in an outline?

Postby spleenworship » Wed Aug 29, 2012 12:15 am

This is what worked for me:

BLL, vitally important case names, brief policy mentions. A good outline should be 5-20 pages (at the most).

YMMV. Seriously. It is different for all of us. You have to put in what works. When it comes time to do practice tests you should take a few minutes to notice what you did or didn't use when writing your answer, and what you had to look for too hard. Then reorganize (adding if necessary), and pare way down anything you didn't really use.


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Re: What goes in an outline?

Postby SFConfidential » Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:46 am

I'm well aware this answer isn't going to be what you wanted, but..

What goes into your outline is the material that will best help you get the best grade you can. Typical things are mentioned ITT already...black letter, emphasized policy, etc. but, at the end of the day, the point of making an outline isn't the finished product...rather, it's the process of making an outline. Making a good one forces you to review everything, think about it, reword it, condense it, and figure out what really matters. That's why people say long outlines, generally, aren't as successful. It's because they're more likely to contain rote re-typing of notes without the analytical synthesis.

At the end of the day, outlines are designed the reinforce everything you learned while illustrating how pieces and themes for together. Your process can and will vary from others. It's up to you to find what works best for you.

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Re: What goes in an outline?

Postby istara » Thu Aug 30, 2012 11:53 pm

The syllabus is a good place to get the basic structure of your outline. 5 pages after 2 classes, however, is a ton.

FWIW, I did very well and my outlines were like this: Big outline included, for each section 1) the rule(s) including any forks in the law for different jurisdictions, and 2) cases that back up the rule(s). If my cases took up more than 2 lines, I reworked them until they were limited to two lines. Extremely major cases that were complicated occasionally took up 3-4 lines.

I then went through and reduced my "big" (15 pages, on average) outlines into 1 page reference sheets. The reference sheet (handwritten and jam-packed) only included the law (and all of the forks in the law) for every section. I used those sheets 90% of the time during exams, and would occasionally flip through my larger outline in order to cite a case or two as needed.

I have no idea if that description is helpful. But I have to put on a presentation about outlining in the next few weeks so.. I figured it wouldn't hurt me to see if I have any clue how to actually explain it...

I will also second the notion that it is way too early to start outlining.

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