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Law School Survival Tips — Part IV

And the last tip for a while:

Few people can succeed in the academic side of law school by waiting until the end of the semester and then cramming for exams. Take the time during the semester to write outlines for each of your classes. And don’t wait too long to start the outlining process. In the best of all possible worlds, I would recommend that you start outlining within two to three weeks of starting school. There’s less time pressure, and you can fix your mistakes. If you don’t start until November, you can catch up, but the associated anxiety means that you won’t get the most value out of the outlines.

The process of creating the outlines is far more important than the end result. That’s why I recommend the “early and often” outlining approach. Benefits include: (1) Investing in organizing and thinking through the early-semester material should help you follow the late semester material more easily, even if that means some late-semester revision of your early-semester writing. (2) Writing your own outlines (whether alone, or in groups) gives you writing practice that will help on memos and final exams. (3) If you get good at outlining early in your career, your analytic skills may develop to the point that you have the confidence to scale back your outlining efforts as a 2L or 3L.

Cribbing from commercial outlines is an easy shortcut, but you get no long-term benefits, and even their short-term benefits — clarity of the rules — can mislead. Use commercial outlines if you want, but don’t be seduced by the impression that memorizing the rules is all there is to a course outline.

Law School Survival Tips — Part III

Law School Survival Tips — Part II

Law School Survival Tips — Part I