Academic Tools Law Students Should Know: Class Outlines

24 Aug

The others in this series are (in order): (If the links don’t work yet give it a couple days,I’m posting one a day for a week.)

Law School is starting, has started, or will start for all those newbie 1Ls who are arriving on the scene. On behalf of all of your seniors, I offer you welcome. To HELL. Okay, so I promise it won’t be like that forever, but the first few weeks are probably going to seem like you have entered the ninth level of Dante’s Horrors.  Or perhaps they’ll start you off really light and leave you unsuspecting only to be thoroughly traumatized by greater difficulties later in the semester.  So as a gift to you, I offer you a few tools that will help you on your way.  They won’t take all the agony out of the process, but hopefully it will lighten your load at least a bit.  

Class Outlines

Once again, some people prefer to write up their own outlines and professors will encourage this.  However (once again), this process isn’t actually helpful for most law students.  It takes up a lot of time in the typing process that could have been spent in the studying process. Plus there is always the risk that you missed something important or misunderstood a vital topic.  Consequently, we have been given the precious gift of class outlines.   There are many versions online that you can find, including some that are specific to your school or professor. These can be invaluable, but since they are made by fellow students they may be incomplete or not as thorough as the general versions. Look around and pick the one that best suits your needs. I usually combine them with Commercial Outlines/Study Aids which will be covered in a later post tomorrow.

NOTE: Underlines means it is a Link

  • OutlineDepot

    • Search by Professor, Class, Textbooks and Schools. The way it works is that you pay for the first outline, but afterwards every time you upload an outline that they accept you get a credit for a free one. This lets you update their database in exchange for free outlines.  Great service!
  • Fellow Classmates

    • When you meet your new classmates make use of those people who have already taken your classes. Your first year, look up the 2Ls and 3Ls and ask them for advice on class material and see if they have outlines they are willing to send or sell to you.  Then start talking to your fellow classmates as you all start taking electives. Odds are you know someone who was in the class and they will have notes available.
  • Scribd

    • Unfortunately, Scribd will charge you if you want to print their outlines ($9 a month I think), but you can always pull them up to look at online.  Many students upload their outlines onto here.  It will usually be written by someone from a different school though so you have to make sure that you note where your professor differs. Use them as general outlines and modify them accordingly.
  • LexisNexis

    • When you sign into the Lawschool version of LexisNexis, you will not that they have outlines for most 1L classes. They are usually very, very long, but they can help you with more difficult aspects of the classes via extensive explanations. Use them as general outlines and modify them accordingly.
  • University Websites

    • Some law schools post sample outlines on their website for everyone to use. Unfortunately they will be keyed to that law school’s professors.  Most classes vary by only about 20%; the rest is the general US law in that subject which is the same in every class. Still, use them as general outlines and modify them accordingly.
    • Examples include
  • 4LawSchool

    • Once again, 4LawSchool pulls through for the law student. They have several outlines in many 1L topics, but they also offer them for 2L and 3L classes.  Use them as general outlines and modify them accordingly.
  • ILRG

    • ILRG pays $15 to students from the top law schools to submit the best outlines for their classes. So those that the group chooses to publish are complete and usually pretty good. However, if your school isn’t in that top cluster, there probably won’t be one keyed to your school. So use them as general outlines and modify them accordingly.

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