Creating good outlines
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Creating Good Outlines. Professor Michael Seigel University of Florida Levin College of Law. Overview. Process End Product Use Example. Process. Read for class Brief/Highlight cases and materials Attend class and take MEANINGFUL notes

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Creating Good Outlines

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Creating good outlines

Creating Good Outlines

Professor Michael Seigel

University of Florida

Levin College of Law


Overview

Overview

  • Process

  • End Product

  • Use

  • Example


Process

Process

  • Read for class

  • Brief/Highlight cases and materials

  • Attend class and take MEANINGFUL notes

  • Review and annotate notes at end of day before reading for next class

  • Weekly: work on OUTLINE


Why outline

Why Outline?

  • Although we all learn differently, most of us benefit from collecting and organizing material into written form

  • The process of outlining is as important as the actual end result, if not more so – FOR THIS REASON, DO NOT RELY SIMPLY ON READING COMMERCIAL, LAW REVIEW, OR OTHER THIRD PARTY OUTLINES

  • The outline becomes roadmap through the material, either to help memorize for closed-book exam or for use during open-book exam


Do i have to

Do I Have To?

  • I don’t know of any successful law student who does not outline course material, though some might exist.

  • First semester is probably NOT the time to see if you’re “special.”

  • There is no shortcut to the hard work in law school.


Getting started

Getting Started

  • Organization of Outline

    • Might be obvious from notes

    • Could use book’s table of contents for guide

    • Could look to third party outline as a guide


Content

Content

  • Essentially, BLACK LETTER LAW that you will use to spot and analyze issues on the exam

  • You must know BLL cold before walking into classroom

  • Make sure you conform to professor’s way of conceptualizing the law


Level of detail

Level of Detail

  • Outline should be precise, and written to the level of detail matching course

  • Unless Professor tells you otherwise, case names and facts are not important; it is the HOLDINGS you are weaving into a series of RULES and EXCEPTIONS

  • Include reminders about tricky issues that might pop up

  • Specify places where law is not clear (opportunities to argue both sides)


How long

How Long?

  • Not too long – it must be SUMMARY and SYNTHESIS of material

  • Not too short – it must be COMPREHENSIVE of BLL that could appear on the exam

  • Perhaps 20-40 pages??


How do i know if it s good

How do I know if it’s Good?

  • Study group: are discussion issues covered by your outline?

  • Practice tests – was outline helpful?


Outline of outline

Outline of Outline

  • Next step: CONDENSE your outline into a “mini-outline” or even a “checklist” of important issues

  • This becomes your reference for spotting issues on the exam

  • Suggestion: FOR CLOSED BOOK exam, memorize checklist and write it down BEFORE READING QUESTIONS


Example from torts

Example from Torts

  • Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

    • Plaintiff must first show that Δ acted negligently, then must prove either:

      • Pain and suffering accompanying physical injury.

      • Physical impact.

      • Zone of danger (near miss).

    • Δ may have a duty to those where it is highly foreseeable that the Π is emotionally vulnerable.


Creating good outlines

  • Rationales for Restrictive Rule (still alive though majority have been more liberal)

    • 1. Uncertain causation (low foreseeability)

    • 2. Consensus of lawyers

    • 3. Public Policy concerns (fraud/opening the floodgates to unlimited liability)

    • 4. Notice to defendants (prevent state claims)


Questions

QUESTIONS?


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