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Creating a Course Outline. Jeffrey Minneti Associate Professor of Legal Skills and Director of Academic Success Stetson University College of Law [email protected] Presentation Objectives. Explain the purpose of a course outline Discuss the content of a course outline

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Creating a course outline

Creating a Course Outline

Jeffrey Minneti

Associate Professor of Legal Skills and Director of Academic Success

Stetson University College of Law

[email protected]


Presentation objectives
Presentation Objectives

  • Explain the purpose of a course outline

  • Discuss the content of a course outline

  • Suggest a process for creating a course outline

  • Suggest forms for course outlines


Course outline purposes
Course Outline Purposes

  • Learning theory perspective

    • Building schema

    • Creating a tool to facilitate problem solving

  • Pragmatic perspective

    • Structure major premise of syllogism

    • Consolidate information in one place

    • Capture the structure of the law

      • Macro level

      • Micro level

    • Template for memorization of law


Course outline content
Course Outline Content

  • Vocabulary

  • Concepts

  • Rules

  • Policy

  • Examples and non examples of law in factual contexts


Course outline content1
Course Outline Content

  • Vocabulary

    • Latin phrases

      • Stare decisis

      • In rem

      • Mens Rea

    • Language of the law

      • Remand

      • Appellee

      • Cause of action

      • Service of process


Course outline content2
Course Outline Content

  • Concepts

    • Ideas

      • Contract formation

    • Terms of art

      • Meeting of the minds

      • Offer

      • Acceptance

      • Consideration

      • Promissory Estoppel


Course outline content3
Course Outline Content

  • Rules

    • Sources

      • Primary

        • Constitution

        • Statutes

        • Court decisions

        • Administrative Regulation

      • Secondary

        • Restatements

        • Treatis/hornbook


Course outline content4
Course Outline Content

  • Synthesized Rules

    • Types

      • If, then

      • Elements

      • Disjunctive

      • Factors

      • General Rule + Exceptions

      • Hybrid


Course outline content5
Course Outline Content

  • If, then rule

    • If you capture or mortally wound a wild animal on public lands, you have a property right in the wild animal.

    • If you engage in an act, knowing with substantial certainty the consequences of the act, for the purpose of tort liability, you have acted with intent.


Content of course outline
Content of Course Outline

  • Elements

    • Law broken into discrete units

      • each has its own test or definition

      • each must be proven for the rule to apply

    • Example

      • An actor batters another when he intends to cause harmful or offensive contact with the person of another and such contact actually occurs

        • Elements

          • Intent

          • Causation

          • Harm or offense

          • Another person

          • Actual contact


Course outline content6
Course Outline Content

  • Elements

    • Example

      • Contract formation

        • Offer

        • Acceptance

        • Consideration


Course outline content7
Course Outline Content

  • Disjunctive rules

    • Battery includes harmful OR offensive contact

    • Damages for breach of contract may include money damages OR specific performance

    • Delivery of a gift can be actual OR constructive


Course outline content8
Course Outline Content

  • Factors

    • Personal jurisdiction analysis

      • Several layers to the test

        • Minimum contacts

          • Purposefully direct actions to forum?

          • Product placed in stream of commerce?

          • Business relationship with forum state business?

          • If internet contact, how interactive is the web business with the forum state?

        • Reasonableness

          • Burden on the defendant

          • Burden on the plaintiff

          • Interest of the forum state


Course outline content9
Course Outline Content

  • General Rule + Exceptions

    • Murder is the unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought, unless, the actor acted in self defense


Course outline content10
Course Outline Content

  • Hybrid rules

    • Contract formation

    • Subject Matter Jurisdiction


Course outline content11
Course Outline Content

  • Review rule structures:

    • If, then

    • Elements

    • Disjunctive

    • Factors

    • General Rule + Exceptions

    • Hybrid


Course outline content12
Course Outline Content

  • Policy

    • The ideas that animate the law, give it purpose, guide its evolution

      • Judicial process

        • Firm v. flexible rules

        • Slippery slope

        • Flood of litigation

      • Normative

        • Freedom of contract

        • Individual v. Altruism

      • Economic

        • Cost-benefit analysis


Example of policy
Example of Policy

  • Adverse possession forces real property owners to pay attention to uses of their property and benefits those who put real property to productive use.


Course outline content13
Course Outline Content

  • Examples and non-examples of rules in factual context

    • Cases (including note cases)

      • Holding

        • Rule + dispositive facts

    • Hypotheticals that professors present in class


Course outline process
Course Outline Process

  • Starting point

    • Utilize your case book’s table of contents and/or course syllabus as templates for the major topics covered during the class

  • Next Step

    • For each topic, pool together pre-class notes, during class notes, post class notes, and readings from supplemental sources

  • Final Step

    • For each topic, synthesize rule structures


Starting point table of contents and or syllabus
Starting Point: Table of Contents and/or Syllabus

  • If your professor proceeds sequentially through the case book, utilize the case book’s table of contents to structure your outline

  • If your professor “jumps around” sections of the case book, utilize the professor’s syllabus to structure your outline


Next step pool information
Next step: Pool information

  • For each topic, pre-class, gather information from assigned and supplemental reading relevant to the topic you are studying

  • For each topic, during class, edit and add to the information you gathered pre-class

  • For each topic, post class, review the information gathered pre and during class:

    • Identify patterns and structures in the information

    • Identify gaps in the information

    • List questions about the information and create a plan for addressing them


Final step synthesize rule structures
Final Step: Synthesize Rule Structures

  • Generally legal synthesis requires inductive thought

    • Discern rule structures from a number of sources, each of which individually reveals only a portion of the rule’s structure

      • Inductive thinking derives general principles from specific cases and materials covered in case book and in class


Course outline process1
Course Outline Process

  • Suggestions to improve your inductive thinking about cases

    • Know the purpose for reading the case

    • Reduce the case to 1-2 sentences that explain the law of the case in light of the facts and the purpose

    • Gather the 1-2 sentences from the cases together and make a cumulative list of the legal principles and policies related to the purpose for which you read the case

    • Discern form, structure, hierarchy among the principles and policies


Final step synthesize rule structures1
Final Step: Synthesize Rule Structures

  • On occasion, information is delivered in a structured form

    • Need only record the structure of the rules, noting their development from general idea to more specific


Course outline forms
Course Outline Forms

  • Traditional outline

  • Concept map

  • Timeline

  • Comparison chart

  • Comparison diagram

  • Flow chart


Review presentation objectives
Review Presentation Objectives

  • Explain the purpose of a course outline

  • Discuss the content of a course outline

  • Suggest a process for creating a course outline

  • Suggest forms for course outlines


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