Tabbing/Flagging Casebook and Outline, Note Taking System

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emkay625
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Tabbing/Flagging Casebook and Outline, Note Taking System

Postby emkay625 » Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:16 pm

Issue One: I had a question about tabbing your casebook/outline for exams.

What, exactly, do these tabs represent? Should I write the names of the cases on them? Or the name of the idea that's being discussed? Should I just number them and then write an index on a blank page in the book?

Also, tabbing an outline? Again, how should I best utilize these tabs? Do people have a fancy color-coded system? My question is, what system worked for you?

Issue Two: I am bad at taking notes. Terrible at it. My notes are terribly unorganized.

So: what was/is your note-taking system. Do you have separate notes for readings and class? Or all one? Do you type and then bring a printed copy to class, and then write on it with additions during class, and finally make revisions and reprint? Seriously - I'd love to hear your whole system. (Do you have separate notes and outlines, or are your notes your outline and vice versa).

Thanks all.

Klinklang
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Re: Tabbing/Flagging Casebook and Outline, Note Taking System

Postby Klinklang » Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:45 pm

I can only speak to the latter, but generally my method is to type down everything that seems like it could be important during class, as well as from the readings. On the weekends, review your notes and synthesize / organize with the following questions in mind:

"What is the purpose of having me read this case? What are the topics being discussed, and what from the lecture / book would make a clear path back through the course?"

Also, individualize it. I don't have any problem remembering case facts, and repetition of rules helps me memorize them. So, I'm not fond of loading my notes with facts, and I'm highly repetitive with the rules.

delusional
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Re: Tabbing/Flagging Casebook and Outline, Note Taking System

Postby delusional » Wed Sep 05, 2012 10:38 pm

While to a great extent it depends on the class, the basic method that I used with pretty good success is as follows. (It seems complicated, but once you get into it it's more efficient and less time consuming than other methods.)

The first thing was setting up the syllabus as the basis for notes and or outline. Sometimes that means just "save as" in Word, other times, it meant copying and pasting a PDF, which means a lot of reformating. Another thing I did in other cases was use OneNote and create a page for each heading and a subpage for each subheading.

Once you have a document set up as your framework, fill in the readings as you read. The only important things to write are the cases. Usually, there are cases in the reading that are not written in full but are mentioned in the book. Use judgement on those - if it's a clear counterpoint to the main case, it might be important, or if it's written in the syllabus as though it were a full case it's likely important. The important parts of the cases are the rule that the court applied, and the holding, explaining how the facts of this case meet the rule in question. This is something that it took time for me to realize - the case book is the rule book, but instead of writing the rules in English, the way a civil law country might, the rules are disguised in these obtuse, terribly written cases. Your job is to "translate" the cases into rules. The same way you might translate "guten tag" into "good day" you need to translate six pages of exposition about Lucy and Zehmer into "Intent is judged by a reasonable objective observer". In preparation for that, it's important to have a bare outline of the important facts.

For example, if you have a Contracts syllabus, it might say:
I. Intent
1. Lucy v. Zehmer
2. Leonard v. Pepsi
3. Restatement (Second) of Contracts, Sections 4, 21
II. Consideration
1. Hamer v. Sidway
2. Kirksey v. Kirksey
3. Hooters v. Phillips
4. Notes, pages XYZ - ABC
So you start reading on the first day, and you fill in everything you think is important about Lucy v. Zehmer. The problem will be, you won't know what's important. It takes time to figure out what is important no matter how it's explained, but generally, like I said above, its the rule and the holding. In many cases, the opinion will actually cite a rule and then look to the facts of the case to determine how they fit into that rule. Look for that.

Then repeat for Leonard v. Pepsi.

Then repeat for the Restatements, which will be easy because the rule is there and just needs summarization in your notes.

After your first day's readings, your notes should look something like this. (I have copied and pasted the "syllabus" from above, in much the same way that you should copy and paste the syllabus to be your outline framework.)

I. Intent
(Gen. rule - in order to be bound by a contract a party must have intent to be bound in agreement with the other party. The next few cases deal with what it means to "have intent".)
1. Lucy v. Zehmer
A whole bunch of crap about how Lucy had wanted to buy the land for a long time and Zehmer never wanted to sell it to him, that this encounter took place in a restaurant that was owned by Zehmer, that Zehmer wasn't drunk, etc. The reason why you will write this is because it's the first day of reading and you have no idea what's important but the truth is that the only thing that's important is that the rule is that expression of intent is judged by the objective outside observer. The holding is that in this case, an objective outside observer would have thought that Zehmer was serious when he told Lucy that if he brings him $50K the next day, he could have the farm.
2. Leonard v. Pepsi
A whole bunch of crap about the way the ad was filmed, the different prizes that were available through the Pepsi rewards program, the cost per point, etc. The reason you will write that is because it is your first day and you don't know what's important. Oh, and I forgot to mention in Lucy v. Zehmer - you also write it because your professor might ask you about it. That's true, he or she might. But almost no one in the history of law school lost anything by looking stupid in class. In case you continue to be worried by it thought, feel free to write things about the procedural posture, the court that was hearing the case, and the reasons why it was in court long after Leonard had decided that he wanted to drop the case. Still, though, the important thing to remember is the rule: The expression of a party's intent to be bound is judged by the objective outside observer. The holding is that in this case, where it was clear because of countless clues in the ad that this was a joke, the objective observer would clearly know that there was no intent to be bound.
3. Restatement (Second) of Contracts, Sections 4, 21
Restatement 4: How a promise may be made: Oral, written, or implied wholly or in part by actions
Restatement 21: Intent to be bound: It is not necessary to have or to show intent to be bound, however, if you manifest intent not to be bound, may prevent formation of a contract. (note: seems the early part refers to people who mean to agree with each other, but don’t think it’s a binding agreement – but it is. Or the opposite – a mock contract that people think is theoretically binding but won’t be enforced (in a play? A game?) actually isn’t binding at all.)

Bring your laptop to class. Open the reading notes. As your professor leads the class through a discussion, add the things that he/she seems to think are important. Take away the things that are clearly not important.

If you're using Microsoft Word, and will be able to use a computer on the exam, make each heading into a heading that can be accessed using the table of contents or the pane that you can have on the left side that jumps from heading to heading. If your using OneNote, use the page and subpage features to create a page for each heading and subpage for subheadings. If you can't use a computer hard drive on the test, you're SOL - become an auto mechanic. Oh, wait, no. Use paper tabs with the headings and subheadings written on them.

These table of contents headings or OneNote pages and subpages, or even paper tabs, become a checklist. (Although if you're using a paper notebook or outline, you should probably just make a separate checklist.) This checklist will allow you to work through the exams systematically - you will be able to look at each clearly deliberate fact and "apply" the checklist to it. Is this an intent issue? A consideration issue? An offer and acceptance issue? A statute of frauds issue? As you locate the issues on a hypo, you keep a list of them. Then, you take your list, and build your essay answer with your outline open, issue by issue, working through the checklist.

I know I started by talking about the question raised in the OP, and I got a little carried away. Sorry, but I hope it was useful.

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emkay625
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Re: Tabbing/Flagging Casebook and Outline, Note Taking System

Postby emkay625 » Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:28 am

Thank you both!!!!!!! This helps.

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JamMasterJ
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Re: Tabbing/Flagging Casebook and Outline, Note Taking System

Postby JamMasterJ » Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:42 am

tagged.
I was gonna ask a similar question.

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20130312
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Re: Tabbing/Flagging Casebook and Outline, Note Taking System

Postby 20130312 » Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:00 am

If I've never been this neurotic in my life and I have doubts about how much "being organized" will help me in the end, should I do it anyway just so that I have something to complain about to non-law people in case?

delusional
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Re: Tabbing/Flagging Casebook and Outline, Note Taking System

Postby delusional » Thu Sep 06, 2012 10:29 am

InGoodFaith wrote:If I've never been this neurotic in my life and I have doubts about how much "being organized" will help me in the end, should I do it anyway just so that I have something to complain about to non-law people in case?

You should not do it just to be organized. I find that doing things just because you know that you should be doing them is useless. However, you should understand that being organized is helpful because your exams are going to be long, convoluted hypos and the best way to work through them is systematically. You are going to have a significant time crunch, and it is much more efficient to be organized.
I did not have much time my first semester to take practice exams, but if you do, take one with just a mass of notes and the stuff in your head, then take another with a checklist, and a clearly tabbed outline and see if there's a difference.

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emkay625
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Re: Tabbing/Flagging Casebook and Outline, Note Taking System

Postby emkay625 » Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:14 pm

Any advice for classes where we're not allowed to use/have a computer during class and can only access the exam and nothing else on our laptop during the exam?

It is open book and we can write whatever we want in our casebook, but that's it. How should I prep?

delusional
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Re: Tabbing/Flagging Casebook and Outline, Note Taking System

Postby delusional » Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:29 pm

emkay625 wrote:Any advice for classes where we're not allowed to use/have a computer during class and can only access the exam and nothing else on our laptop during the exam?

It is open book and we can write whatever we want in our casebook, but that's it. How should I prep?

You can't even have preprinted notes? In that case, I would do the same thing, but memorize the notes. Remember, your outline is not a summary of your notes, it's a tree, with headings giving way to subheadings, giving way to cases, giving way to restatements and other "statutory law". Memorize the list of headings, memorize the cases that are underneath each heading, memorize the important facts of the case. If anything, being systematic pays off even more when nobody can use papers. It will not only help you to perform well, the way it would if you were allowed notes, it will help you to remember better in the first place.

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emkay625
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Re: Tabbing/Flagging Casebook and Outline, Note Taking System

Postby emkay625 » Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:14 pm

delusional wrote:
emkay625 wrote:Any advice for classes where we're not allowed to use/have a computer during class and can only access the exam and nothing else on our laptop during the exam?

It is open book and we can write whatever we want in our casebook, but that's it. How should I prep?

You can't even have preprinted notes? In that case, I would do the same thing, but memorize the notes. Remember, your outline is not a summary of your notes, it's a tree, with headings giving way to subheadings, giving way to cases, giving way to restatements and other "statutory law". Memorize the list of headings, memorize the cases that are underneath each heading, memorize the important facts of the case. If anything, being systematic pays off even more when nobody can use papers. It will not only help you to perform well, the way it would if you were allowed notes, it will help you to remember better in the first place.


Thank you! One question - will we be expected to reference/cite/mention names of cases on the exam? Does this vary by prof?

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AVBucks4239
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Re: Tabbing/Flagging Casebook and Outline, Note Taking System

Postby AVBucks4239 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 2:08 am

I made a thread entirely devoted to note-taking and organization. Hope it helps.

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=163781

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LazinessPerSe
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Re: Tabbing/Flagging Casebook and Outline, Note Taking System

Postby LazinessPerSe » Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:24 am

emkay625 wrote:
delusional wrote:
emkay625 wrote:Any advice for classes where we're not allowed to use/have a computer during class and can only access the exam and nothing else on our laptop during the exam?

It is open book and we can write whatever we want in our casebook, but that's it. How should I prep?

You can't even have preprinted notes? In that case, I would do the same thing, but memorize the notes. Remember, your outline is not a summary of your notes, it's a tree, with headings giving way to subheadings, giving way to cases, giving way to restatements and other "statutory law". Memorize the list of headings, memorize the cases that are underneath each heading, memorize the important facts of the case. If anything, being systematic pays off even more when nobody can use papers. It will not only help you to perform well, the way it would if you were allowed notes, it will help you to remember better in the first place.


Thank you! One question - will we be expected to reference/cite/mention names of cases on the exam? Does this vary by prof?


Yes. Some like it when you argue by analogy and can cite the case. Most don't care at all how you reference it. You can say, "In the high as a Georgia pine case" as opposed to "In Lucy v. Zehmer". They will know what you mean.




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