#The3Llife: Making An Effective Outline

GUEST BLOG Katie R. Day,
Quinnipiac University School of Law, J.D. Candidate 2018

Today is my last day of classes!

While I no longer have to sit in class, I can’t totally put the semester behind me yet. The next week is going to be full of outlining for all of my law school final exams, some open book and some closed.

Outlining can be a challenge and a lot of law students are tempted to make a “template” outline that they can fill in with class-specific material. While that sounds like a timesaver, it’s actually really detrimental. Every class is different, every exam focuses on different things, and therefore each outline should reflect those differences.

Think about how the professor organized the class.

You should have the most information in your outline about the topics that were discussed the most. Don’t get caught up trying to thoroughly analyze something your professor just mentioned in passing. If you’re unsure if you understand something enough, meet with a classmate or your professor and talk it through. You can also ask if your professor will review your outline. I’ve had several who are happy to take a look and make note of things that are missing or over-emphasized.

Aside from tailoring your outline to the structure of the class, also tailor it to the structure of the exam. Open-book exams require very different outlines from closed-book exams. For a closed-book exam an 80-page outline isn’t going to do you much good since it’s unlikely you can memorize that much info. Try to condense the rules, cases, and concepts as much as possible so they are easy to memorize. Depending on your learning style you may want to make flashcards or create mnemonic devices.

Since you’ll have your outline with you in an open book exam, it can be a little longer and more substantive. The key to using your outline effectively during the exam is organization. The answer may be in your outline, but that’s not helpful if you had to spend 20 minutes flipping through to find it. Organize your outline in a way that makes sense for you and then think of some other ways you can make it easy to search through. For a longer outline, you may want a skeleton outline or table of contents you can quickly skim. I’m a big fan of adding tabs that note the different rules and highlighting key cases or concepts.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure you’re thoughtful about how you’re making your outlines and what will work best for you. It may seem like a lot of work–and it is–but the benefits of having a strong outline are well worth the trouble!

What are some of your tips for outlining? Share them with me on Twitter @The3LLife!

Why Every Law Student Should Have a LinkedIn

GUEST BLOG Katie R. Day,
Quinnipiac University School of Law, J.D. Candidate 2018

When I was in undergrad I constantly heard people talking up LinkedIn.

Every time I attended a networking event or a career tips panel, people were touting the benefits of the “professional” social networking site. I confess, I was skeptical. Despite my side gig as a social media manager, I’m not obsessed with social media. I understand their importance for brands, but I didn’t really understand the importance for my future career.

Flash forward a few months, I’d jumped on the bandwagon and set up a LinkedIn profile. I filled in my experiences (or what few experiences I had as a student), I added a nice headshot, I wrote a succinct summary, and then I waited. When I didn’t get 100s of connections or job offers out of the gate I felt a little discouraged. It seemed LinkedIn was helpful for everyone but me.

As time went on, I continued to build my page

I uploaded projects I had worked on, made note of awards I received in school, and shared articles about topics that interested me. And just as everyone said it would, my LinkedIn started generating job prospects.

At first it was just job opportunities popping up in my news feed. I started applying to those that interested me and ended up starting my social media management career before I even graduated from undergrad. As I kept building my profile and making more connections I started getting LinkedIn messages from recruiters and HR reps who thought I’d be a good fit for an open position. Not every lead worked out, but so far I’ve gotten two jobs that I’ve really enjoyed (and never would’ve applied for on my own) through people who reached out on LinkedIn.

I know, I know, I’ve turned into one of those people who talks up LinkedIn, and I promise to step off my soapbox soon, but I feel like I’d be remiss if I didn’t let you all know how important this resource has been to me.

I really believe that every law student should be on LinkedIn. You may not have extensive experience or high profile connections, but you have internship experience, extracurriculars, and classroom awards that deserve to be shown off. Make yourself visible to other attorneys and potential employers. You never know who you’ll impress or what opportunities might come your way!


#The3Llife: 3 Things You Need to Do In November

GUEST BLOG Katie R. Day,
Quinnipiac University School of Law, J.D. Candidate 2018

I don’t know about you, but I feel like this semester has flown by.

I have only 4 short weeks until classes are over and finals begin. Yikes! I’m a horrible procrastinator and a serial over-committer, but in the interest of surviving finals with my sanity in tact, I’ve decided to try to keep myself under control this year. With that in mind, I’ve come up with 3 things that I’ll be doing this November (and I think you should do too!) to make finals a little less stressful.

Don’t put off outlines

This one is for all the procrastinators out there! I hear you—and I’m usually right there with you. But this semester I’m doing something differently. I sat down and looked at my calendar this morning. It was chock full of school events, family get-togethers, and dinners with friends. I know what this means. I’ll hang out with friends and family, do my homework, and crash on the couch watching Netflix. See something missing there? Yeah—exam prep! To ensure I’m not putting off my outlining until the last second, I dedicated a chunk of time in my calendar each Thursday afternoon just for plugging away at my outlines. Just taking a couple of hours a week to put them together is going to save me a lot of stress in a month, and will give me adequate time to ask my friends and professors questions.

Make lists (and use them)

I’m taking a lot of classes this semester and I have so many projects, short papers, and final exams that I can’t keep track of them all. My first step this November is to make a list of the due dates for all of my assignments, that way I don’t have to worry about a deadline slipping my mind. Once I have my overall list of assignments, I’m going to break it down into smaller lists of what needs to get done for each. Closed book exam? That means I’ll want to make flashcards. Final project? I’ll need to write down all the different parts I need to complete. When I finish something I can cross it off, making sure I know exactly what is done and what I still need to work on.

Take a Thanksgiving break

The last few weeks of the semester bring a lot of hard work and a lot of stress. While you don’t want to slack off, you also don’t want to head into finals feeling burnt out. Than Thanksgiving holiday is a good time to take a couple of days away from law school. Spend time with family, snag some great Black Friday deals, and do some Netflix binge-watching. After a couple of days off, you’ll feel a lot more relaxed, energized, and ready to take on finals!