Commercial outlines and their use

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muscleboundlaw
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Commercial outlines and their use

Postby muscleboundlaw » Mon Sep 11, 2017 4:31 pm

I am three weeks in, and beginning to get the hang of it. I have yet to outline, but am wondering if outlining is a necessity or whether focus on hypos is the smartest thing to do.

I have commercial outlines for every 1L course. Some of them don't take cases that my professor's assigned or work with the books we use.

Still, the course topics and law is the same. I don't want to waste time writing an outline and studying law when I could just get to studying law.

Is personal outlining the absolute only way to study, or have people found success solely relying on commercial outlines?

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Sprout
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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby Sprout » Mon Sep 11, 2017 4:38 pm

muscleboundlaw wrote:I am three weeks in, and beginning to get the hang of it. I have yet to outline, but am wondering if outlining is a necessity or whether focus on hypos is the smartest thing to do.

I have commercial outlines for every 1L course. Some of them don't take cases that my professor's assigned or work with the books we use.

Still, the course topics and law is the same. I don't want to waste time writing an outline and studying law when I could just get to studying law.

Is personal outlining the absolute only way to study, or have people found success solely relying on commercial outlines?

This completely depends on your learning style. I never outlined much but disclosure I was a horrible law student. Everyone I know at the top of the class outlined.

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Calbears123
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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby Calbears123 » Mon Sep 11, 2017 5:44 pm

Outlining your class is studying law. Commercial outlines suck, they are too long and don't teach you the law the way your prof did. If you are not going to outline only look at outlines from people who had the same prof.

cavalier1138
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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:30 am

Very little time during an exam should be spent actually looking at your outline, and the process of making the outline is most of your studying. Combine that with the fact that commercial outlines are completely useless because they won't be specific to the way your professor teaches the law, and you can understand why you shouldn't be wasting your time with them.

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SilvermanBarPrep
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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby SilvermanBarPrep » Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:28 pm

Commercial outlines are extremely helpful. There's definitely a benefit to writing your own outlines because doing so forces you to think about how all of the cases that you are reading fit together and that will be so important for the final exam. But just because writing an outline is very helpful doesn't mean that a commercial outline to supplement that work is not helpful. Write your own outline and supplement with a commercial outline and you'll be in good shape.

Sean (Silverman Bar Exam Tutoring)

cavalier1138
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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby cavalier1138 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 1:58 pm

SilvermanBarPrep wrote:Commercial outlines are extremely helpful. There's definitely a benefit to writing your own outlines because doing so forces you to think about how all of the cases that you are reading fit together and that will be so important for the final exam. But just because writing an outline is very helpful doesn't mean that a commercial outline to supplement that work is not helpful. Write your own outline and supplement with a commercial outline and you'll be in good shape.

Sean (Silverman Bar Exam Tutoring)


Say, Sean, do you just happen to know any professional services that would sell me access to their outlines for 1L courses?

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do_me_a_favor
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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby do_me_a_favor » Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:15 pm

I just want to push back briefly on some of the advice being pitched here re: writing your own outline.

So, let me just say that you need to do whatever helps you perform well on the test. For many people writing an outline does that. But one thing you should be careful about is assuming that writing an outline is necessary for success, because it definitely isn't necessary for success. A lot of people at the top of the class probably DO write their own outlines--but these people also work harder than the rest of the class, work longer hours, and they're really anal and probably have no problem spending hours outlining ON TOP of hours reading/working through hypos. There's a bit of a danger here in trying to copy what the top end students do----they're just going really hard, and I think you'd find that most of them would probably have top grades even if they DIDN'T write their outlines. But they do because they care, Type A anal personality, and spend a great deal of time working on this stuff.

For me writing the outline didn't help as much as I had hoped. I have some great grades in classes where I pretty much worked through supplements and reviewed my typewritten classnotes. I have a bad grade or two in classes where I busted my ass spending literally dozens of hours in a word document constructing the outline for the course. It's kind of a crapshoot. The most important thing is your ability to process the legal principles and apply them on the final essay. That's it. That may include creating an outline. It may include reading other outlines and supplements while working through practice exams/hypos. What you'll also find is that on the exam you're never even pulling out the outline, really. So what matters is that you read the information and remember how to apply it, how to notice what fact patterns bring the particular issues out.

It's my third semester in law school and I'm mostly abandoning writing outlines. They take hours to write. I take expansive notes on particularly challenging class readings. I review those notes before class. Throughout the semester I go over the concepts we learn in class with supplements so they're really embedded in my brain. Then at the end of the semester review the syllabus, your reading notes, your in-class notes, and your supplements. That's what I'm up to this semester.

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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby cavalier1138 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:29 pm

do_me_a_favor wrote:I just want to push back briefly on some of the advice being pitched here


All due respect: if you're admitting that you didn't place towards the top of your 1L class, how much can you credibly push back?

Your entire thesis is absurd. You point out that people at the top of the class appeared (to you) to be the ones who worked the hardest, and then you immediately pivot and insist that the work they did had nothing to do with their grades. You also seem to miss the link between spending more time on the subject than their peers and writing up their own outline. And as you pointed out, the outline is rarely something you want to be relying on during the exam. The whole point is that by working on it, you've naturally ingrained the structure of the substantive law in your brain.

There's always going to be a certain amount of unpredictability in the curve, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find a single person in the top 10% of any 1L class that didn't do their own outlining.

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do_me_a_favor
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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby do_me_a_favor » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:12 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
do_me_a_favor wrote:I just want to push back briefly on some of the advice being pitched here


All due respect: if you're admitting that you didn't place towards the top of your 1L class, how much can you credibly push back?

Your entire thesis is absurd. You point out that people at the top of the class appeared (to you) to be the ones who worked the hardest, and then you immediately pivot and insist that the work they did had nothing to do with their grades. You also seem to miss the link between spending more time on the subject than their peers and writing up their own outline. And as you pointed out, the outline is rarely something you want to be relying on during the exam. The whole point is that by working on it, you've naturally ingrained the structure of the substantive law in your brain.

There's always going to be a certain amount of unpredictability in the curve, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find a single person in the top 10% of any 1L class that didn't do their own outlining.


ditto on the all due respect: your reading comprehension sucks in this instance. the only point i was making was that you shouldn't necessarily look at the top students and see that they made outlines and think, "the reason they're at the top is because they made outlines." it's possible that writing outlines helped them comprehend the material, but it's also very possible that they made outlines because thats "what you're supposed to do" and would've done well regardless.

my only point is that writing outlines isn't something that works for 100% of people. i exceeded my own expectations in some classes where i didn't work hard on outlining, and failed to reach my expectations in some classes where i busted my hump to write a great outline in word. i think top students make outlines regardless because it's the traditional way of doing things and top students do it all.

The whole point is that by working on it, you've naturally ingrained the structure of the substantive law in your brain.


yes, and my point is that writing your own complete A-Z outline of a subject is not necessarily the best way for all students to ingrain the law in their b rains. for an example, making my own outline in civil procedure did not help me nearly as much as doing E&E work constantly and doing PTs.

but I think you'd be hard pressed to find a single person in the top 10% of any 1L class that didn't do their own outlining.


i'm not top 10% of my class but i know people from my class who are top 2-3% who only outlined certain subjects :o. my top three 1L grades were classes where I partially outlined tough stuff but otherwise relied on E&E drilling, class notes, and a commercial outline to dig out detailed doctrine on exam day. but your experience may vary.
Last edited by do_me_a_favor on Sat Sep 16, 2017 1:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:17 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
SilvermanBarPrep wrote:Commercial outlines are extremely helpful. There's definitely a benefit to writing your own outlines because doing so forces you to think about how all of the cases that you are reading fit together and that will be so important for the final exam. But just because writing an outline is very helpful doesn't mean that a commercial outline to supplement that work is not helpful. Write your own outline and supplement with a commercial outline and you'll be in good shape.

Sean (Silverman Bar Exam Tutoring)


Say, Sean, do you just happen to know any professional services that would sell me access to their outlines for 1L courses?

He's not breaking any rules. Pros are allowed to post advice as long as they don't promote their own services. (And he doesn't offer law school outlines.)

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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby cavalier1138 » Sat Sep 16, 2017 7:45 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:He's not breaking any rules. Pros are allowed to post advice as long as they don't promote their own services. (And he doesn't offer law school outlines.)


Oh, I wasn't arguing that the rules were being broken. I was assuming (wrongly, apparently) that someone who was in the business of selling outlines was endorsing them, and that tickled me.

do_me_a_favor wrote:my only point is that writing outlines isn't something that works for 100% of people.


I never said it was. But my general advice for 0Ls is that they ask how someone performed in 1L before accepting their advice as gospel. It's clear that you haven't developed a method that works (even just for you) as a general study technique for curved exams. And that's fine. But you cannot claim that your approach to studying is somehow more valid than others when it didn't even work for you.

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do_me_a_favor
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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby do_me_a_favor » Sat Sep 16, 2017 3:52 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:But you cannot claim that your approach to studying is somehow more valid than others when it didn't even work for you.


Thankfully for me I did not claim that my approach is more valid than others :). For a law student you don't read vry well lol

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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby marco1 » Sat Sep 16, 2017 5:13 pm

[/quote]I never said it was. But my general advice for 0Ls is that they ask how someone performed in 1L before accepting their advice as gospel. It's clear that you haven't developed a method that works (even just for you) as a general study technique for curved exams. And that's fine. But you cannot claim that your approach to studying is somehow more valid than others when it didn't even work for you.[/quote]

This is a classic example of the ad hominem fallacy. Are you really suggesting that a person who does not book a class lacks helpful information? Failures often lend important insight on both what not to do and on what to do. The value of a study plan should not be measured by the grade a person gets in the class. The grade is determined by a multitude of factors beyond an individual student's control. The question to ask is whether a particular study method improved performance. In other words, the goal should be to compare how the student would have performed without the study plan to how the student performed with the study plan. I fell confident that a student can share some insights on what didn't work with future generations. That also gives information on what might work next time. Whether the student booked a class or not is irrelevant in assessing the validity of a study method.

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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby McChicken » Sat Sep 16, 2017 5:17 pm

I did pretty well 1L year and I strongly recommend making your own outline for the following reasons:

1) Organization. Its less about having an outline and more about going through the process of consolidating the black letter law, policy, jurisdictional splits, and important tidbits from your professor. It will help you see how everything fits together and help you organize your answers when writing your exam. Don't take for granted how important organization is on game day.

2) Review. Outlining IS studying and will expose areas of the law that you aren't super clear on. Towards the end of the semester, you will be surprised how many points of law seemed clear when you learned them, but aren't actually that clear when you try to conceptualize them on your own. Outlining forces you to write out every important concept by yourself (which, btw, you probably have to do on your final exam). If you simply rely on a commercial outline, you may take for granted certain concepts that you don't actually have down. After you create your own outline, you can use supplements and commercial outlines to help solidify things you still don't get.

3) Customization. Obviously, commercial outlines aren't tailored to your professor's class. They will either be too detailed or say too little on what you covered in class. Making your own outline will increase the chance you are studying all the important concepts for your particular class. It will also reduce the chance you waste time studying things that won't be tested. Again, that's not to say you can't use a commercial outline to bolster an outline you made yourself.

I would submit to you that outlining actually saves time because it is more efficient than most other things you could be doing. See viewtopic.php?f=3&t=162799

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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby cavalier1138 » Sat Sep 16, 2017 5:22 pm

marco1 wrote:This is a classic example of the ad hominem fallacy. Are you really suggesting that a person who does not book a class lacks helpful information? Failures often lend important insight on both what not to do and on what to do. The value of a study plan should not be measured by the grade a person gets in the class. The grade is determined by a multitude of factors beyond an individual student's control. The question to ask is whether a particular study method improved performance. In other words, the goal should be to compare how the student would have performed without the study plan to how the student performed with the study plan. I fell confident that a student can share some insights on what didn't work with future generations. That also gives information on what might work next time. Whether the student booked a class or not is irrelevant in assessing the validity of a study method.


No, an ad hominem would have been "You're stupid, and your mother was of questionable moral character."

Presumably, if someone who wasn't in the top of their class (that doesn't mean booking the exam, because that's absolutely going to be down to a lot of random factors) knew how to be in the top of their class, they would have been there. And since you only get to take 1L once, there isn't a basis for comparing one student's changing techniques, especially because 2L and 3L classes are generally graded on a much nicer curve or are uncurved, depending on the class and the school's policy. This isn't a personal slight. If you want to give studying advice like "Use commercial outlines and E&Es instead of writing your own outline," then you can't base that advice on doing well with it in a couple of classes.

I completely agree that 1Ls don't have total control over their own grades because of how the curve works, but it's not totally random either. And it makes far more sense to follow advice from people who did well in 1L than from people who didn't. That's not ad hominem; it's just rational.

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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby marco1 » Sat Sep 16, 2017 6:53 pm

I still don't think you understand the relationship between performance and study methods. The only question you should be asking is whether a study plan improved performance. You cannot look at someone's grade in isolation and then determine whether his or her study plan improved performance. The grade is not what you are trying to measure. The differential is what you are trying to measure.

Example - Suppose that Usain Bolt runs a race with a bunch of law students. Presumably, Bolt will win the race overtime. Suppose further that Bolt decides to drink a six-pack 30 seconds before he runs. I think he would probably run faster without a stomach full of beer. But, he wins the race overtime. Using your logic, we would all be downing a six-pack of beer before the race. The law students who followed that advice would be slower. Contrastingly, imagine one law student comes up with the best training regiment in the world. He is very slow, but is able to cut 30-seconds off of his race time with this new regiment. He is still going to finish in last place. But, he has also discovered the best training method in the world. [sidebar - see how you were using the ad hominem fallacy now? A student with poor performance can still have a great idea. See generally Bill Belichick (probably not going to make an NFL team - but has useful information to add)] If Bolt used the slowest student's training method, he'd be even faster.

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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby cavalier1138 » Sat Sep 16, 2017 7:41 pm

marco1 wrote:I still don't think you understand the relationship between performance and study methods. The only question you should be asking is whether a study plan improved performance. You cannot look at someone's grade in isolation and then determine whether his or her study plan improved performance. The grade is not what you are trying to measure. The differential is what you are trying to measure.

Example - Suppose that Usain Bolt runs a race with a bunch of law students. Presumably, Bolt will win the race overtime. Suppose further that Bolt decides to drink a six-pack 30 seconds before he runs. I think he would probably run faster without a stomach full of beer. But, he wins the race overtime. Using your logic, we would all be downing a six-pack of beer before the race. The law students who followed that advice would be slower. Contrastingly, imagine one law student comes up with the best training regiment in the world. He is very slow, but is able to cut 30-seconds off of his race time with this new regiment. He is still going to finish in last place. But, he has also discovered the best training method in the world. [sidebar - see how you were using the ad hominem fallacy now? A student with poor performance can still have a great idea. See generally Bill Belichick (probably not going to make an NFL team - but has useful information to add)] If Bolt used the slowest student's training method, he'd be even faster.


If law school were a race and you got to take the same classes over and over again under similar conditions (and if we could somehow measure study tactics by a metric other than final grades), that analogy would make total sense. It's kind of like how your repeated use of the word "ad hominem" would make sense if you were responding to a series of posts that were merely insulting someone rather than attacking their basis for giving advice in a specific area.

No one is taking a single case in isolation. The vast majority of students at the top of their class will recommend writing your own outlines over using commercial ones. This isn't a weird practice or some kind of outlier theory. It may not work for everyone, because everyone's style is different, but writing your own outline is one of the only study practices that seems to be consistent across students at the top of their respective law school classes.

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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby The_Lorax » Tue Sep 19, 2017 7:48 pm

Calbears123 wrote:Outlining your class is studying law. Commercial outlines suck, they are too long and don't teach you the law the way your prof did. If you are not going to outline only look at outlines from people who had the same prof.


This ^^^. At least if you're outlining actively trying to organize the concepts and understand them rather than just copying your class notes into a giant word doc.

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do_me_a_favor
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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby do_me_a_favor » Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:10 pm

OK so this thread got really derailed mostly because of cavalier's nitpicking and bullshit arguments based on no evidence. here's the major point: outlining your course really is a great way to get an overall understanding of all that you're being taught, and you want to do that or something close to it. however, commerical supplements can be super helpful. for example, i organize my outlines based on the course syllabus and textbook, but when filling out the sections i consult the textbook AND a great commercial outline like emmanuels. this method keeps the outline arranged by what your professor is teaching, but it also helps you put concepts into words you understand etc. it also helps flesh out stuff your professor might have breezed through---for example, sometimes a professor will run through a concept in the last 10 mintues of class if time got away from him during the lecture. you'll want to have great outside supplements to really drive that concept home and get it into your outline in a way you can understand.

these supplements will also help by providing hypotheticals and questions with explanations-----this is probably every bit as important as actually making the outline, because having made the outline alone isn't preparing you for actually taking an exam. you need to understand how the material in your outline actually works in practice in terms of hypos.

one final bit of advice i'll add: don't get too bogged down in how you compose your outline. it can be one big document with table of contents, hyperlinks, all kinds of other shit--but it doesn't have to be. i outlined a couple of courses by breaking the course readings down into groups and making separate documents for each subject--e.g., in torts you could have a intentional torts document, and separately a negligence document, and so on. this kinda helped me in courses where i started making the outline in one document and just got overwhelmed working through it. all this is to say you don't need to copy exactly the same method as other students you're dealing with or talking to. write the damned information in the way that makes sense to you

always take advice on TLS with a grain of salt. people here will tell you that there is a "right way" to do just about everything, and they're full of shit. remember these are the same people that tell you to retake the LSAT endlessly until you break into the top 2% of testtakers.

cavalier1138
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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:52 pm

do_me_a_favor wrote:OK so this thread got really derailed mostly because of cavalier's nitpicking and bullshit arguments based on no evidence.


Since you decided to be petty about this, what evidence do you have? A couple of A grades in upper-level courses?

Don't get me wrong. Your "technique" may very well be valid for some students. But you're suggesting that you have a better basis for your claims by continually putting mine down as being unfounded. So cite your sources or shut the fuck up.

marco1
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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby marco1 » Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:59 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
marco1 wrote:I still don't think you understand the relationship between performance and study methods. The only question you should be asking is whether a study plan improved performance. You cannot look at someone's grade in isolation and then determine whether his or her study plan improved performance. The grade is not what you are trying to measure. The differential is what you are trying to measure.

Example - Suppose that Usain Bolt runs a race with a bunch of law students. Presumably, Bolt will win the race overtime. Suppose further that Bolt decides to drink a six-pack 30 seconds before he runs. I think he would probably run faster without a stomach full of beer. But, he wins the race overtime. Using your logic, we would all be downing a six-pack of beer before the race. The law students who followed that advice would be slower. Contrastingly, imagine one law student comes up with the best training regiment in the world. He is very slow, but is able to cut 30-seconds off of his race time with this new regiment. He is still going to finish in last place. But, he has also discovered the best training method in the world. [sidebar - see how you were using the ad hominem fallacy now? A student with poor performance can still have a great idea. See generally Bill Belichick (probably not going to make an NFL team - but has useful information to add)] If Bolt used the slowest student's training method, he'd be even faster.


If law school were a race and you got to take the same classes over and over again under similar conditions (and if we could somehow measure study tactics by a metric other than final grades), that analogy would make total sense. It's kind of like how your repeated use of the word "ad hominem" would make sense if you were responding to a series of posts that were merely insulting someone rather than attacking their basis for giving advice in a specific area.

No one is taking a single case in isolation. The vast majority of students at the top of their class will recommend writing your own outlines over using commercial ones. This isn't a weird practice or some kind of outlier theory. It may not work for everyone, because everyone's style is different, but writing your own outline is one of the only study practices that seems to be consistent across students at the top of their respective law school classes.


Saying that someone's idea is bad because they got a good grade is a clear example of an ad hominem fallacy. Plain and simple. That's like saying a fat person doesn't know how to lose weight.

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do_me_a_favor
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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby do_me_a_favor » Wed Sep 20, 2017 4:01 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
do_me_a_favor wrote:OK so this thread got really derailed mostly because of cavalier's nitpicking and bullshit arguments based on no evidence.


Since you decided to be petty about this, what evidence do you have? A couple of A grades in upper-level courses?

Don't get me wrong. Your "technique" may very well be valid for some students. But you're suggesting that you have a better basis for your claims by continually putting mine down as being unfounded. So cite your sources or shut the fuck up.


no. fuck yourself. people like you who make everything into a fucking flame war are the reason people hate TLS when it's actually a good resource. just move on if you disagree.

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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Sep 20, 2017 4:01 pm

marco1 wrote:Saying that someone's idea is bad because they got a good grade is a clear example of an ad hominem fallacy. Plain and simple. That's like saying a fat person doesn't know how to lose weight.


...that's not ad hominem, and that's an idiotic comparison.

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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Sep 20, 2017 4:02 pm

do_me_a_favor wrote:just move on if you disagree.


Is that what you did with this thread? I must have missed that part.

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Re: Commercial outlines and their use

Postby hipcatdaddio » Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:27 pm

I recommend writing your own outlines for the sole reason that doing so for your first semester will allow you to create your own effective attack-plan (small version of an outline) for the remainder of your law school career. Without writing your own outlines first semester and taking exams with those outlines, you won't really know what information that you've taken notes on during the semester is useful or what you can omit.

I would avoid commercial outlines unless you have a professor who is going to assign you the entire casebook for a class (and the outline is keyed to the casebook).

I made an attack plan for just about every class (some just aren't possible) and then practiced with those attack plans. Did well (Top 20% at a T1 regional).




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