Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Casebriefs, Outlines, Old Exams

One way to make it through law school is by using all of the help you can get. I'm a fan of the best kind of help -- free online help, that is.

If you haven't already discovered, the best place to start with is 4LawSchool. Complete with casebriefs, outlines, and old exams. Another decent one-site stop for outlines, exams and other resources is Hieros Gamos's Law Student Center.

Your school should have a subscription to When you get your password be sure to check the site out. Cali can be helpful if you're more of an interactive learner -- there are exercises, outlines, and podcasts available for most subjects.

Case Briefs/Class Notes
A lot of students who run sites will post their class notes. While these are specific to the professor, sometimes they can be helpful in explaining particular rules of law of cases or clarifying general concepts. Just remember that for these sites the find feature on your browser (recommend Mozilla's Firefox) is your best friend.
  • 1L Law Source
    • Former student from U of MN shares a plethora of information including case briefs, outlines, checklists and stuff from Emanuel's. He also has information available for upperlevel courses.
  • Mike Shecket's Extravaganza!
    • Mike quit law school to become a teacher, but while he was in law school he did quite well and was more then willing to share notes, outlines and case summaries. He has not linked everything on the front page, so select the class name first and you can see what materials are available for each subject. His notes are easy to read and they came in handy for several subjects.
A lot of these links are specific to certain schools, but keep in mind that the law from most of the 1L core classes doesn't change from school to school so a lot of general information can be gleamed from outlines. If you want just general tips on how to outline check out Just remember that outlining is really a personal style -- don't feel like you have to create an 80-page outline with 14 different sublevels and a table of contents.
  • U of Chicago
    • I find the case summaries and checklists particularly helpful. Also has links to someone's notes from Barbri prep course. One of the best outline banks on the net per Namby.
  • UW - Madison
    • Run by their SBA. The other best outline bank on the net per Namby.
  • Northeastern University
    • Most of the links at the top are dead, but the links to the actual outlines below are decent. Includes some general material
  • U of Miami
    • Limited list; primarily first year classes.
  • Internet Legal Research Group
    • By book author - if your book is there, these can be a goldmine. Site also has other legal links.
  • Boalt (UC Berkeley)
    • Site maintained by a student, so not a lot of variety, but he also has class notes.
  • More Boalt
    • Site run by student orgs at Boalt. Much more comprehensive list of outlines.
  • Brian Pedigo
    • 3L at Whittier Law. Check out the "cram plans" for summaries.
  • HL Central
    • Harvard keeps a collection of student submitted outlines. Best bet is to do a search by course name/topic.
  • NYU
    • This link is specific to the first year outlines. For upperlevel courses go here.
  • Penn Law
    • Their SBA runs a collection of student outlines. Again, unless you go to school there check out the outlines by course, not professor.
For general tips on exam taking, checkout The Jurist's Tips , LawNerd's Exam Taking or this article which has a nice little sample outline exam answer. Also helpful is Charles Whitebread's The Eight Secrets of Top Exam Performance in Law School. He actually came to present at my school, and while he wasn't that interesting, we got a free copy of the book. It's not too thick so it is a quick read. Best piece of advice from the book: create checklists. (Happy I spent the time reading the book; I credit my checklists as a large part of my success in law school thus far.)

Your best bet when studying for exams is to try to get an old exam from your specific prof. Even though most subjects only have a limited combination/type of questions that can be asked, professors have their own special way of putting twists on things. Short of availability of specific professors' exams or if you just want to practice issue spotting, then other professors' old exams can be helpful. This listing of old exams are sites that have exams available for all subjects. I'll be posting specific links for each first-year class, and I'll include more specific exam links for those classes.

If anyone has more helpful links to online casebriefs, outlines or old exams please feel free to drop me a line or a comment.


Lance Ito said...

This is why I was friends with Calculating...she also was a large part of me surviving the first year of lawschool.

One additional add: it is useless to do casebreifs for class; its a total waste of time. Try to find a free casebrief online to give you the basics in case you need to answer a factual question in class. If the case is famous enough it will be explained in detail on Wikipedia (you'll be surprised how many cases are there). Its almost worthwhile to buy canned casebriefs, the lawbitches group bought canned casebriefs and it saved us a lot of time the second semester because first semester all of us were doing our own case briefs. Maybe Calculating will put up the website for the canned casebriefs? If you need to save some $, split up the cost between friends (that is what we did).

Brian Pedigo said...

Brian Pedigo is a CURRENT student at Whittier Law (3L).

Calculating Bitch said...

Sorry, Brian. Fixed. Something made me think you had graduated. BTW, love the cram plans!

Brian Pedigo said...

Thank you! I'm glad you like them. More are on the way. I'm currently working on a CA Community Property Cram Plan.

Lucas said...

While I recognize Judge Ito's preeminence in all legal areas, I humbly propose that you try to learn to brief cases quickly. I think that is a skill that takes some practice to learn for many people that you don't want to be learning at a firm.

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