How to Take Great Law School Lecture Notes
Taking great lecture notes is one part science, one part art, and one part effort. You’ve got to know how to best structure them so you can use them to prepare for the exam which is often months away. You’ve got to know how to identify the information that is most important to your professor, which can often get buried deep beneath the Socratic method. And you’ve got to commit to taking great notes.
Here’s a five-step process to help you take great law school lecture notes:
Focus on black-letter law. The Socratic method might lead you to believe that everything is open to debate. This isn’t the case; some rules are absolute or black letter. Make sure these rules are always in your notes.
Be clear about areas of ambiguity. Of course there is also a lot of ambiguity in the law, and ambiguity can be as important as black-letter law. Include variations of interpretations–include traditional rule and modern rule and understand how they lead to different outcomes.
Don’t overlook applications of the law. Having the black-letter law and areas of ambiguity in your notes won’t help you unless you also have a very clear understanding of how to apply the law. Make sure you capture all the hypos your professor talks too much about because they will help you understand how to deal with ambiguity in the law.
Understand policy arguments. Most laws derive from policy which changes all the time. In your notes, highlight the policy decisions that have led to law evolution over the years. Highlight the differences in jurisdictions and why different jurisdictions have or have not adopted similar laws. Understanding the policy arguments will help you better understand the law.
Pay attention to your professor. Your professors are always the X-factor when it comes to taking great law school notes. No two are alike, so you will have to pay close attention to each professor’s individual interests and quirks. If phrases keep coming up or he or she keeps coming back to a particular topic, make sure you write it down and understand what it has to do with the subject matter you are studying. More often than not, these topics will appear on the exam.
This article was written by FindMyLawTutor.com.
Visit us at www.findmylawtutor.com for Help with LSAT Practice Problems and Tutoring, Law School Admissions and Assistance, and Bar Exam Preparation. Our website matches LSAT, Law School, and Bar Tutors with students and legal study materials– Providing Law Students with Help with Legal Exams.