Outlines: They can save or break you in law school.


How can you be sure to develop an outline that works for you?

An outline is a collection of class notes, case briefs and other materials that allows you to access information quickly and efficiently for each law school class. As soon as you’ve finished a topic in class, it’s time to outline it and apply the law to a fact pattern. It’ll give you more time to get help and feedback before the real exam.

Use these tips to help you formulate your own approach.


Do you know your legal stuff?

What is common law and is it written by the courts of law? You might want to check out our glossary of terms for this one.


Outline tips that do the trick.

Outlines are not just class notes


In an outline, you want to incorporate Black’s Law definitions, case law, authority
– such as the Restatements, FRCP, MPC, etc. – characteristics, differentiations, checklists, flowcharts, and more. This is a combination of all your work – so build on that.


Create your own


You might be tempted to use another student’s outline template, but your outline
should be specific to your professor’s syllabus. You can use another classmate’s outline to help with structure or wording, but don’t depend on it exclusively.

Go beyond just words


Don’t limit your outline format to just notes/briefs. Instead, incorporate checklists,
flowcharts, hypos, color scheming, etc. You can make your outline work for your study habits by thinking creatively.

Start big but end small


Throughout the semester, you will be including class notes, case briefs, helpful summaries, and more into your outline, so don’t be surprised if your outline ends up being more than 100 pages. It is through studying that you’ll start to condense your full outline. The goal before finals is that you will have a one-page summary of your outline.