law school outlines

Five Tips for Creating Law School Outlines

Outlining can be a foreign concept to new law students.  Many students struggle with where to begin and what an outline should look like.  Here are five tips for creating law school outlines!

Five Tips for Creating Law School Outlines

1. Start early.

You should not wait until the end of the semester to create all of your outlines, but rather should start outlining within the first few weeks of class.  That way, your outlines will already be finished by the time classes end and you will have time to review, memorize, and practice using your outline before taking the exam!

2. Rely on your class notes.

Your class notes are the best source of material for your outline because your professor is writing the exam, so the way the professor has presented the material is the way you want to learn it.  While there is certainly other information that will be helpful and should be included from other sources such as the casebook and any commercial supplements you use, your class notes should be your primary source of material.

3. Make your own outlines.

Even if you find a great outline from someone who took the same class with the same professor, it is still important to make your own outline because the process of outlining is how you are going to learn the material!  You can certainly use that outline as a guide (and it will be extremely helpful in preparing for class), but you should still make your own outline to prepare for the final exam.

4. Don’t type your class notes up and call it an outline.

There is often a lot of extraneous class discussion that ends up in your class notes that doesn’t need to be in your outline.  Also, make sure you understand what you are putting in your outline.  If you are mindlessly typing your class notes into an outline without understanding them, you aren’t learning the material and the outline isn’t going to do you much good!  Your outline should be a compilation of class notes, notes from the casebook, and any supplements you are using to understand the material.

5. Organize your outline in a manner that makes sense!

A great place to start with an overall structure of your outline is the syllabus (if your professor breaks it down into “sections” or topics) or the table of contents from your casebook.  Starting with an overall framework that makes sense will help you see the big picture and how all of the different rules fit together!

For more information about each of these tips, including a brief explanation of how to make an outline, now that you have these general tips in mind, be sure to check out this video:

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