Eight smart hacks for your Civil Procedure outline

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Hack #1: Talk to your professor

This will be your greatest asset throughout the semester, especially when preparing your Civil Procedure outline and other course outlines for final exams. With each class, you are learning how to take your professor’s specific exam. While there is a level of uniformity among law schools across the country, each class is taught differently.

For example, your professor might tell you that he or she wants you to pay attention to the “Notes and Questions” sections in your casebook. Others may say that you should only focus on material from those sections that the professor highlights in class. As you continue throughout your semester, you should be thinking about how your professor structures hypotheticals, which can be inferred through in-class discussion.

Scheduling an office hours appointment is a great way to develop a relationship with your professor. Email is also an excellent alternative to asking questions that you may not feel comfortable raising in class.

Lastly, if it is not already stated on your syllabus, ask your professor if he or she recommends any supplemental resources to help you throughout the semester. 

Get Advice and Outlines from Older Students

Hack #2: Ask upper-level students

Upper-level students are a great resource to gain general advice and receive old(er) outlines, as well as access to outlines in the university’s outline bank — if your school has this resource. For Civil Procedure specifically, many of the topics are uniform across professors.

When looking at outlines from older students, make sure that you are still actively outlining and merely using the pre-made outline as a supplement to cross-reference your own.

Not only can older/upper-level students share helpful Civil Procedure outlines but they can also be a great resource to discuss a time frame for outlining throughout the semester.

Hack #3: Align with class teachings

The more specific the outline is to your class, the better. This means that a more recent outline from your same professor would be ideal. Professors often have a methodical technique for teaching, especially if they have been teaching the same course for many years.

Gathering multiple outlines from older students and scanning through them to see which outline appears to mirror your lecture and in-class notes the closest can be a great asset in your studies.

Hack #4: Often visit BARBRI.com

The BARBRI website can provide advice on how to best condense casebooks and in-class notes into a comprehensive outline.

When you outline, it forces you to consider what information is essential, what information is extraneous, and what areas you need to review or ask clarifying questions about to your professor.

BARBRI’s outlining tips also provide you with a comprehensive breakdown of what you should be putting into your outline: 

  • Rules from the case you study
  • Your summarized class notes
  • Any other material that the professor has brought into discussions or lectures

It is critical to put your professor’s hypotheticals into your outline because it illuminates areas of interest your professor may have, more examples of topic areas, and could potentially be a portion of the final exam. With your Civil Procedure outline, it is especially important to be diligent. For example, if you do not understand personal jurisdiction, it will further complicate the rest of the semester. 

Hack #5: Use BARBRI 1L Mastery

BARBRI 1L Mastery has video lectures for critical topics discussed in Civil Procedure. 1L Mastery helps you understand topics such as the competing Justices’ views of purposeful availment, as well as personal jurisdiction. As an added bonus, civil procedure is taught by the amazing professor, Rich Freer.

All of the tools that 1L Mastery provides create a very comprehensive resource to use in your civil procedure outlines.  

Hack #6: Tap into school resources

If your law school offers LexisNexis as one of your research platforms then it is incredibly helpful to use the database to compare your case briefs with the case briefs found there.

Another great resource is to talk to your Legal Writing Professor about resources that he or she would recommend. Some textbooks also have a code inside the front cover that provides access to online resources. This can be a nice tool as you are developing your civil procedure outlines.

Hack #7: Revisit BARBRI Law Preview

If you used BARBRI Law Preview before law school then it can be a tremendous resource in getting you ready for the law school climate. Law Preview spends a lot of time breaking down the mystique of outlining. By outlining when you finish a topic, you begin to see and understand the direction of the course.

Hack #8: Know you’re not alone

Outlining can appear quite daunting at first. Especially if you find completed outlines that are 60-100 pages. Some advice from BARBRI’s Law Preview was to break it down into manageable parts.

For additional information, especially for that Civil Procedure outline, be sure to visit the BARBRI website often. Happy outlining!

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