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Value of Outlines

Posted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 2:25 pm
by carsondalywashere
I've had an opportunity to look at a few outlines and old exams. It seems that most people focus on BLL for their outlines, and leave very little info in about cases and policy arguments. Is this because you should pretty much have this material learned so you can apply it on the exam without having to look it up?

Re: Value of Outlines

Posted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 3:51 pm
by pancakes3
profs rarely require case cites and policy arguments are so intuitive/trivial that you don't need to waste space on an outline (you can if you want. some ppl do).

memorizing BLL is 50% of the exam. the other half is taking the fact pattern that your prof gives you and picking out the relevant facts that fit (or don't fit) the BLL.

Re: Value of Outlines

Posted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:35 pm
by tomwatts
Depending on the professor, it might be useful to have a basic grasp (like, 2-3 sentences' worth) of the facts of a case in case you need to distinguish or make an argument of the form [x] case is the law here rather than [y] case because [x] case's facts are more similar.

If the professor really likes certain policy arguments or thinks that they're important, you want to have those in your outline too. It depends on the professor and the class, though; my rule of thumb is that if they emphasize something in an in-class discussion, it probably doesn't hurt to have it in your back pocket for an exam.

Re: Value of Outlines

Posted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:11 pm
by cavalier1138
Yeah, I actually strongly disagree with the idea that cases shouldn't be on your outline. You don't need to know the names of cases, but being able to compare fact patterns to existing caselaw is a gold mine for getting points on any exam where the law is defined through precedent rather than statute.

Re: Value of Outlines

Posted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 7:14 pm
by The_Lorax
To echo watts above, I think best in terms of concepts (ie BLL) so I mostly have that, with cases underneath each principle as an example with a sentence, maybe 2 of facts. Then under each concept I (if it comes up in class especially) will sometimes have a "rationale" or "policy" section just in case it comes up.

To be honest though I almost never use my full outline, but rather synthesize it down to somewhere from 5-8 pages which I hone while doing practice exams. I find it helps with memory and is far more useful on the actual exam. What you need on an outline might be different than others though, so best way to find out what works for you is hammering practice exams

Re: Value of Outlines

Posted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 7:18 pm
by Nebby
Use Lexis or Westlaw headnotes for the important holdings from the main cases (the cases they get their own heading and aren't in the notes). It'll save time

Re: Value of Outlines

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:32 pm
by carsondalywashere
pancakes3 wrote:profs rarely require case cites and policy arguments are so intuitive/trivial that you don't need to waste space on an outline (you can if you want. some ppl do).

memorizing BLL is 50% of the exam. the other half is taking the fact pattern that your prof gives you and picking out the relevant facts that fit (or don't fit) the BLL.

So basically make your an outline a tool to help you memorize BLL?

Re: Value of Outlines

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:33 pm
by carsondalywashere
tomwatts wrote:Depending on the professor, it might be useful to have a basic grasp (like, 2-3 sentences' worth) of the facts of a case in case you need to distinguish or make an argument of the form [x] case is the law here rather than [y] case because [x] case's facts are more similar.

If the professor really likes certain policy arguments or thinks that they're important, you want to have those in your outline too. It depends on the professor and the class, though; my rule of thumb is that if they emphasize something in an in-class discussion, it probably doesn't hurt to have it in your back pocket for an exam.

So the facts are probably more important the rule/holding?

I definitely have some classes where I see policy becoming an important issue

Re: Value of Outlines

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:34 pm
by carsondalywashere
cavalier1138 wrote:Yeah, I actually strongly disagree with the idea that cases shouldn't be on your outline. You don't need to know the names of cases, but being able to compare fact patterns to existing caselaw is a gold mine for getting points on any exam where the law is defined through precedent rather than statute.

So this would be especially true for a class like Property? Almost everything we've done is through the common law

Re: Value of Outlines

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:35 pm
by carsondalywashere
The_Lorax wrote:To echo watts above, I think best in terms of concepts (ie BLL) so I mostly have that, with cases underneath each principle as an example with a sentence, maybe 2 of facts. Then under each concept I (if it comes up in class especially) will sometimes have a "rationale" or "policy" section just in case it comes up.

To be honest though I almost never use my full outline, but rather synthesize it down to somewhere from 5-8 pages which I hone while doing practice exams. I find it helps with memory and is far more useful on the actual exam. What you need on an outline might be different than others though, so best way to find out what works for you is hammering practice exams

Definitely planning on starting with a big outline, and then working on cutting it down. Will this occur naturally from taking practice exams?

Re: Value of Outlines

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:37 pm
by carsondalywashere
Nebby wrote:Use Lexis or Westlaw headnotes for the important holdings from the main cases (the cases they get their own heading and aren't in the notes). It'll save time

Definitely will check this out!

Re: Value of Outlines

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:44 pm
by cavalier1138
carsondalywashere wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:Yeah, I actually strongly disagree with the idea that cases shouldn't be on your outline. You don't need to know the names of cases, but being able to compare fact patterns to existing caselaw is a gold mine for getting points on any exam where the law is defined through precedent rather than statute.

So this would be especially true for a class like Property? Almost everything we've done is through the common law


It depends on the professor, but if your professor generally teaches through the caselaw, then yes, I would make it a point to know the facts of the key cases.

Re: Value of Outlines

Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 1:54 pm
by tomwatts
carsondalywashere wrote:So the facts are probably more important the rule/holding?

It is almost never true that the facts are more important than the rule/holding. You need the rule/holding for sure. You may also need the facts to know when the rule/holding does or doesn't apply.

carsondalywashere wrote:I definitely have some classes where I see policy becoming an important issue

Not uncommon. You may also need these policy justifications to know when the rule/holding does or doesn't apply.