Simple 2L outlines now, more time to memorize later

We’ve been down this familiar road before: Outlining. While it isn’t all that fun (you don’t say), it is without a doubt important and you need to start now.

We’re approaching that halfway marker for this 2L fall semester (wow, already!) and it’s time to start outlining once again. Yes, you should start now. And by “now,” this actually means you probably should have begun a few weeks ago. That’s okay. You haven’t suddenly reached a state of emergency. … yet. It’s October. But December will be here in the blink of an eye. If you have your second-year course outlines started (or finished within the next month), you’ll be way ahead of the game. That’s exactly where you want to be.

It’s an ambitious effort, considering the hustle-and-bustle of 2L year. Yet it all goes back to paving the way for success on final exams. Always keep that in mind as motivation. With outlines ready by mid-November, you’ll have extra time to learn and memorize everything in those outlines, instead of trying to figure out what you should put in and what you should leave out.

Looking back on 1L year, you probably tried to make your outlines as comprehensive as possible. You were a new law school student: focused, determined and hard-working. That everything -must-go-in (afraid-to-leave-anything-out) approach may have worked well during the fall semester and your first set of final exams, but maybe not as effectively for the spring semester. It’s easy to get bogged down by the details and random facts from cases.

Knowing what you know now, cut back on the minutia this 2L year. Attack the outlining process with the discipline to keep them short, simple and to the point.   

Instead of focusing on all of the details from each case, focus on the important plot pieces from the case. Learn the rules rather than the random details about the opinion. Memorize and understand the black letter law. During finals time, you won’t be rushing to creating outlines; you’ll be able to review them.

Also, when you start outlining early (translation: now), you will have enough time to leverage supplements (don’t hesitate to consult commercial outlines like those available with BARBRI’s 2L/3L Mastery), professors and classmates if you have any questions.