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RGANIZING:. Many Methods, One Goal. Reasons to Organize. To learn course content Organizing forces a focus on content that increases recall of material Grouping cases helps Deepen understanding of concepts Build associational connections to increase memory

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many methods one goal


Many Methods, One Goal

reasons to organize
Reasons to Organize
  • To learn course content
    • Organizing forces a focus on content that increases recall of material
    • Grouping cases helps
      • Deepen understanding of concepts
      • Build associational connections to increase memory
  • To highlight analysis process
    • Drawing attention to legal rules
    • Providing context for legal arguments for analysis and application to new fact patterns
  • To prepare for exams
    • Emphasizing thoroughness of analysis in exams
    • Increasing speed in writing exams
choosing a format
Choosing a Format
  • Start with what has worked for you in past courses.
  • Experiment with other methods to see if they facilitate analysis and application.
  • ‘To Outline’ is code for ‘To Organize’
    • Outlines are one way to organize, but not useful for everyone.
    • Flow charts emphasize analysis
    • Decision trees use questions to aid analysis
    • Diagrams can reveal relationships among and within concepts
    • Summary and synthesis statements put the big picture into words
  • Use a structure that simplifies understanding, emphasizes analysis, and aids memory and application.
preliminary questions
Preliminary Questions
  • What do you want to accomplish?
    • Conceptualize material
    • Develop an analysis tool for legal problem solving
    • Increase speed
  • Which organizing structure meets each goal?
    • You may use more than one
    • The structure should assist recall and analysis skills.
  • Is it more efficient to use an outline created by someone who knows more than I?
    • NO! Making it is a huge part of the value
    • Do use table of contents, syllabus, or similar materials to provide an initial framework or to stimulate ideas
organizing to conceptualize
Organizing to Conceptualize
  • Main Topics
    • Identify the main topics in the course:
      • Look at table of contents of book or syllabus to identify these.
      • Usually there are no more than 5-9 main topics.
    • Look for:
      • How the topics are similar and different
      • What distinguishes each topic and what types of factual situations would trigger use of each
    • How do the main topics relate to each other
      • Can they occur together?
      • Are any topics mutually exclusive?
      • Is there an order among topics such that one or some should be analyzed before others?
    • It may be helpful to create a diagram or drawing to examine the relationships of topics to each other

before structuring your organizing tool.

  • Make a list of all legal principles, rules, questions, public policy issues, and terms.
  • Group these using each main topic as a category.
  • Within each category sort and include case examples to help remember applications and arguments.
  • Put in an order that reflects what you need

to know to analyze a new set of facts.

creating a tool to guide problem solving
Creating a Tool to Guide Problem Solving
  • Remember, the goal of any guide for problem solving is to assist in legal analysis and in applying rules to facts
  • You may want to include:
    • Legal tests and rules (don’t over-simplify)
    • Questions to ask of facts to test for elements of legal rules (don’t stop with clear statements, identify any legal tensions)
    • Case examples for arguments and counter arguments
    • Public policy oriented questions and arguments
    • Terms, standards, or criteria used by professor in class discussion

Examples of Different Structures

**CAVEAT – The following material provides general examples. These are not intended to teach course content. Use only the material presented or assigned by your professor.


practical questions for creating a flow chart or decision tree
Practical Questions for Creating a Flow Chart or Decision Tree
  • What is a flowchart or decision tree?
    • These are ways to organize material. A flow chart points out the sequence of steps in applying course material. A decision tree sets up questions that can usually be answered with a yes or no. The answers lead a person through analysis steps.
  • Why would I create one?
    • Some students like to express steps of legal analysis steps in graphic form.
  • Is it a substitute for an outline?
    • It can be – but it can also be an enhancement of parts of an outline.
  • What if I don’t learn visually?
    • You may want to stick with another format.
  • What software can I use?
    • Word processing programs usually have a format.
    • I like a program called Inspiration – you can check it out at
    • Stop by the office and we can talk more!


Creating a Flowchart


Created by Ruta Stropus, DePaul Law School

Go with

the analysis


ContractsSample - “Brainstorm” Sheet

List rules/key words/phrasesPromissory EstoppelOfferContractAcceptanceConsiderationCommunication - knowledge of offer VoidVoidable Certainty of termsCommitment/promiseTermination

Created by Ruta Stropus, DePaul Law School



ContractsSample organization of rules/key words/phrases

I. Requirements for contractA. Offer1. Commitment/promise2. Certainty of Terms 3. Communication 4.TerminationB. ConsiderationC. AcceptanceD. Promissory EstoppelII. Is contract valid? A. Void B. Voidable


Created by Ruta Stropus, DePaul Law School



Contracts Sample Flowchart 1

Go with

the analysis

Created by Ruta Stropus, DePaul Law School



Contracts - Sample Flowchart 2

Created by Ruta Stropus, DePaul Law School



ContractsSample Analytic Outline

Step 1 - Is there an offer? Look to see if all of the following elements exist:1. Commitment/promise2. Certainty of Terms 3. Communication* make sure the offer has not been terminated!Step 2 - Has the offer been accepted? 1. If yes - then we have a contract 2. If no then try to enforce using promissory estoppelStep 3 - Is there consideration?Step 4 - Make sure the contract is valid Look to see if it is 1. Automatically Void and/or 2. Voidable by one of the parties

Go with

the analysis

Created by Ruta Stropus, DePaul Law School



Contracts - Sample Outline 2

I. Is this UCC or Common Law? A. Is this the sale of goods?  UCCB. Is this the sale of services or land?  Common law (Lucy v. Zehmer)C. Is this unclear? 1. Predominant Purpose test — split-up the bill; what was bargained for, what did buyer really want?2. Gravamen test — where did the problem arise from: the goods or the services?II. Is there an Offer? — Does it confer upon another the power of acceptance to bind the two parties? A. Definiteness: terms, price, quantity, time (ct’s sometimes look elsewhere Seagram) §33. B. Is this merely an invitation to negotiate? (Harvey; Owen) 1. Who was the offer address to (General Public/Advertisement (Craft) or a Specific Person)?2. Does the Offeree know of others? (Reasonable Person Test) (Southworth; Dickinson)C. Does offer ask for acceptance? D. Intent of Offeror 1. Offeree’s interpretation of intent (Lucy) Reasonable Person Test again.2. Look at wordingof the offer. (rephrase if necessary to understand) 3. Is this offer illusory? A promise w/no commitment? §77III. If there is an Offer, is it bargaining for a Promise or Performance? §32IV. Is there an Acceptance? (Offer indicates how acceptance is to be made: Int’l Filter) A. How is acceptance made (promise or performance)?B. When was acceptance made? Time Limit?: Ever-Tite Roofing; B/F Revocation?: §2-206; Any medium reasonable: §63 Mailbox RuleC. Even if offer bargains for promise, can satisfy by Specific performance. (White: not specific enough). D. Notice—must be notice—w/in a reasonable time (UCC §2-206), unless waived (Int’l Filter)E. Is this really an acceptance or a counter-offer/rejection w/add’l or different terms? 1. CL Mirror Image rule (§38-39) 2. UCC Analysis (§2-207)V.Was the Offer Revoked before Acceptance? §42, 43 (can be inferred by indirect comm. Dikcinson) A. Would a reasonable person assume this was a revocation? §42(same exam, i.e., phone messages) 1. Language or Actions sufficient to put someone on notice? (Hoover; Dickinson (3rd party informs) 2. How did the Offeree react? May indicate success of notice.B. Means of revocation (notification) to determine if made before acceptance.VI.Is the Offer Revocable at all? Is this an Option K? A. UCC: Is this a Merchant (§2-205)? (be careful who is making the offer Ever-Tite Roofing case)B. CL: Is there consideration?1. Substitute: Is the Offeror inducing Offeree to act to his detriment? 2. Is only way to avoid injustice to enforce? §87(option Ks) & §90 (gifts). Promissory Estoppel §90


mapping contracts
Mapping Contracts






(Promise to do or not do something definite, communicated to offeree)


Clearly not offer

Clear offer












Broad and General

  • Issue
  • Rule
  • Application/Analysis
  • Conclusion

Narrow andSpecific

irac cont
IRAC cont.


Is there an offer?


An offer is a promise from the offeror or that manifests the party’s commitment to take some action in exchange for a return promise or performance from the other party

irac cont20
IRAC cont.

Rule: To Determine if an Offer is present

  • Has an offer been communicated?
  • Do we have certainty of terms?
  • Is there a commitment/promise?
irac cont21
IRAC cont.

Rule Application/Analysis

  • Has an offer been communicated? Test against facts.
  • Do we have certainty of terms? Test against facts. (See next slide for example.)
  • Is there a commitment/promise? Test against facts.
irac cont22
IRAC cont.

Rule Application/Analysis: Sub-Issue - Certainty

Is there


  • Has offer been terminated?
  • Is there consideration?
  • Has the offer been accepted?



Fact/case for



Fact/case for

Fact/case for

Yes No

c onclusion



There is no offer.

There is an offer.

This reflects your judgment.

Strong/weak/doesn’t seem to apply or does

apply, because…

Remember on an exam to argue in the alternative:

Example: I think there is an offer for x, y, z reasons,

however, if court were to find no offer…

organize use and revise
Organize, Use, and Revise
  • Try out any or all methods
  • Apply to a problem
  • Use your method to see how well it works
  • Revise to make it better
  • Apply to a different problem
  • You are learning as you do these steps!
Organizing materials helps identify the relationships among details that create a conceptual picture.