How to Make a Law School Outline

How to Make a Law School Outline

Articles, Blog , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 10 Comments

Welcome to LearnLawBetter. In this episode I will provide you with some advice
on what to include and exclude from your law school outlines. By following these simple steps you will position
yourself to get the highest grades that you can by crushing the final exam. Hi, this is Beau Baez, and today I want to
share with you some tips on how to make a great law school outline. Your outline is, nothing more and nothing
less, than your blueprint for doing well on the exam. This means understanding law school exam grading,
which I cover in detail in the episode called “Law School Exam Grading.” First, let’s discuss what you should not
do when creating an outline. A mistake that many law students make is to
take their class notes, rearrange them a bit, and then place them into their outline. That is not an outline, but a rather rearranged
notes. Also, don’t include facts from a case in
the outline. The only thing you need in this outline are
the rules from the cases. So now let’s talk about what should go into
an outline. The first thing you need is a framework for
the course. I recommend that you take the table of contents
from your assigned book, or the course syllabus, and use that as a starting point. You might change the format as you go along,
but you need to get something to get you going. Second, place the rules that you learned
into the outline. The rules and exceptions to the rules need
to be as concise as possible, and written in your own words. For example, suppose you have a case from 1894 and the case states the rule as follows: the wrong inflicted, when the defendant so did with intent, and
with force that contacted the victim’s person, must result in adequate compensation for that injury. Now let’s take that archaic language and write something
like this: A defendant’s intentional action will result in the defendant paying for all
damages. So see what I did, I took that old language, we rearranged it and we turned it into something that we can understand today. Third, if the professor tells you, or strongly
hints that something is going to be on the exam, then make a note of that in your outline. Fourth, if you know your professor will test
you on policy, place the policy arguments in the outline. More on what to transfer from your class notes
in the episode called “Taking Notes in Law School: The Content.” Fifth, think about the size of your outline. Since the outline is the primary tool you’ll be using to crush your final, it has to be useable. This means short and to the point rule statements
that you can use on the exam. Think about it. You will remember a 15 word rule statement a lot
better than a 22 word rule statement. Finally, when you have worked as hard as you
can and you believe you have the perfect outline, then, and only then, look at an outline that
someone else created. As I noted in my last episode, “Why Create
Your Own Law School Outlines,” it is critically important that you first work on the outline
by yourself because that will help you learn the law better. When you see differences in the two outlines,
don’t just make the changes. Think about the differences. Ask yourself, why is there a difference? You may find that your outline that you wrote is better in
a particular area , or, you may find that you missed something. When you discover your errors, go back and
find out why you made those errors as that will reveal gaps in your knowledge, and potentially,
in your understanding of the law. If you stop and reflect, you will learn the
law in a way that will help you get a higher score on the exam. Those who rely solely, or heavily, on commercial outlines
created by others create the illusion that they know the law. But they are failing to make the connections
that are necessary to get high grades. If you’d like to see more episodes that
can help you succeed, hit the subscribe button. Also, don’t forget to check out
where you will find more resources to help you succeed, including my blog, newsletter,
and exam bank. Thanks for watching.

10 thoughts on “How to Make a Law School Outline

  • TheAwhi Post author

    Brilliant Video

  • Tina Alvarez Post author

    People, listen to this carefully and do it. Don't wait until the last minute, it can hurt you're exam finals. This is a key area in my studies I learned from this video that are so important and very brilliantly stated. Thank you for all you do.

  • Alma New Post author

    This has helped me a lot, thank you very much for this video.

  • Hale hale Post author

    Great short and informative video. Youtube needs more people like you.

  • Blader Post author

    You inspired me to keep improving.

  • Steve Sales Post author

    Excellent suggestions. Outlining each class was the single most helpful thing I did to learn law and prepare for the finals. For most topics I had separate sub paragraphs for rule statements and elements. I did not have time to do every assignment and case brief, but i did finish a good outline for every class.

  • James Gilliam Post author

    Some time ago, one of our Professors advised in a newsletter that a good way to revise for an exam is to outline the exam and study the outline not the answer you come up with using your outline in as much as the text of the current [the exam you're taking in real time limited to 3 hours 15 minutes] exam will have the same theme but different wording.

    Taking her advice to heart, I've outlined a question from Part B of the 2016 exam and present the fruits of my efforts below for your revision consideration:

    Vanessa has been working for the Ace taxi company as a driver for six months. Ace pay Vanessa’s national insurance and tax but she has to purchase her own car and insurance. She works according to very strict protocols governing how clients must be treated (this includes a script telling her how to greet clients and how her job of taxi driving must be done). On the day in question, Vanessa had collected Ian, a long term client of Ace, who had arranged to be driven to the airport to catch an urgent flight. Whilst in the car Ian began to choke on some nuts that he was eating. Vanessa panicked and diverted the car from the usual route to the airport into a quiet area – with the intention of providing first aid. Unfortunately, she collided with another car whilst doing so. Ian had begun to recover on his own, but Vanessa was having a serious argument with the other driver, Sally, when she lost her temper and violently attacked Sally, rendering her unconscious. Ian, now very alarmed, tried to leave the taxi but Vanessa slammed the door and insisted (against Ian’s protests) on driving him to the airport. Ian’s hand was caught in the car door and he suffered a bad injury.

    Advise Ace as to their rights and liabilities in respect of Ian’s and Sally’s injuries.
    General remarks:
    The question concerns vicarious liability, trespass to the person, false imprisonment and negligence.
    Some of the cases, reports and other references the examiners would expect you to use include:
    Nettleship v Weston [1971] 2 QB 691
    A driving instructor was injured by his pupil when the pupil negligently crashed.
    Could the learner driver (pupil) be liable?
    By being on the road, the learner driver is expected to behave as a reasonable driver.

    Mattis v Pollock [2003] 1 WLR 2158.

    An English tort law case, establishing an employer's vicarious liability for assault, even where it may be intentional or pre-meditated. Previously, judges had been unwilling to impose liability where assaults were motivated by revenge or vengeance; it was established however that following the decision of Lister v Hesley Hall Ltd, that where an assault is closely linked to the duties of an employee, the employer should be held vicariously liable.

    Judge LJ did not look to establish that the stabbing had occurred in the course of Cranston's employment, but whether the stabbing was closely connected to his work, and instruction. It was of particular importance that Mr Cranston had been instructed by Mr Pollock, and was known to be, violent and intimidating toward customers:

    “Mr Pollock chose to employ Cranston, knowing and approving of his aggressive tendencies, which he encouraged rather than curbed, and the assault on Mr Mattis represented the culmination of an incident which began in Mr Pollock's premises and involved his customers, in which his employee behaved in the violent and aggressive manner which Mr Pollock expected of him.”

    Rose v Plenty [1976] 1 WLR 14

    An English tort law case, on the issue of where an employee is acting within the course of their employment. Vicarious liability was tenuously found under John William Salmond's test for course of employment, which states that an employer will be held liable for either a wrongful act they have authorised, or a wrongful and unauthorised mode of an act that was authorised.

    Mohamud v WM Morrison Supermarkets plc [2016] UKSC 11.


    The Supreme Court unanimously allows the Claimant’s appeal and holds the Respondent vicariously liable for the actions of its employee, Mr Khan, in attacking the Claimant. Lord Toulson gives the lead judgment.


    The court has to consider two matters. First, the court must ask what function or field of activities has been entrusted by the employer to the employee (i.e. what was the nature of his job). This is to be viewed broadly. Second, the court must decide whether there was a sufficient connection between the position in which he was employed and his wrongful conduct to make it right for the employer to be held liable.

    Applying that test here, it was Mr Khan’s job to attend to customers and respond to their inquiries. His conduct in responding to the Claimant’s request with abuse was inexcusable, but interacting with customers was within the field of activities assigned to him by his employer. What happened thereafter was an unbroken sequence of events. The connection between the field of activities assigned to Mr Khan and his employment did not cease at the moment when he came out from behind the counter and followed the Claimant onto the forecourt. There are two reasons to draw this conclusion. First, it is not correct to regard Mr Khan as having metaphorically taken off his uniform the moment he stepped out from behind the counter – he was following up on what he said to the Claimant. Secondly, when Mr Khan followed the Claimant to his car and told him not to come back to the petrol station, that there was not something personal between them, but an order to keep away from his employer’s premises. In giving the order he was purporting to act about his employer’s business.

    Mr Khan’s motive in the attack is irrelevant. It does not matter whether he was motivated by personal racism rather than a desire to benefit his employer’s business.

    Lord Dyson agrees with the reasons given by Lord Toulson and emphasises that the close connection test is the correct test to apply.

    A good answer to this question would…

    1. Explore the question of employee status and note that the facts tending to indicate a quite significant degree of control over how the role of taxi driver is performed.

    2. Argue that this case can be distinguished from others where a deviation in the standard route has proved fatal.

    3. Argue that Nettleship will apply to any assessment of Vanessa’s liability and her employer’s vicarious liability.

    By outlining – not answering – past exam questions you can apply the outline to any vicarious liability question on the exam. For example:
    "Angela was visiting her friend Betsy. She complained of a severe headache and Betsy gave her a box of painkillers that had been prescribed by her (Betsy’s) doctor. On the outside of the box and on a leaflet inside, there was a note reading: “Do not consume with alcohol. May, cause severe nausea and diarrhoea.” Angela had drunk two small glasses of wine. She took two of the painkillers (the recommended dose for an adult). An hour later she became violently ill and was admitted to the Downbeat Hospital. She was examined by Conrad, a doctor, and told him about the pills she had taken. Conrad arranged for her to be admitted and prescribed a drug to treat her condition. Daphne, the nurse on duty, misread the doctor’s notes and gave her only 10 per cent of the dosage that Conrad prescribed. Angela became more seriously ill and required painful and debilitating abdominal surgery. There is a strong possibility that, if she had been given the correct dosage, she would have recovered after a few days.

    It has now been established that Angela suffered from an extremely rare allergy to one of the ingredients of the painkillers. No other case has been identified where a person taking one of these painkillers suffered a comparable reaction. It cannot be established whether the wine had contributed to the reaction."

    "Advise Angela as to any claims in negligence against the Downbeat Hospital.
    "(Students are not required to discuss the area of Product Liability.)"
    The template I use in answering problem questions is: Introduction – Legal issues? – Conclusion so my Introduction might look like this:

    In this question we are asked to advise Claimant Angela regarding possible claims against Defendant Downbeat Hospital. While the history prior to Angela’s admission to hospital is certainly pertinent it has no bearing upon the hospital’s ultimate liability for the damage sustained by Angela while an inpatient there.

  • Mia Mixx Post author

    You are God sent.

  • Destiny Destiny Post author

    Awesome content!!
    What would you say is the difference between taking notes and outlining are they the same?

  • Tom Bob Post author

    Excellent Professor, you are doing a great job explaining. Thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *