Class Preparation Update


Preparation — In anticipation of a future event, preparation helps to make something ready to be utilized."
-Black’s Law Dictionary
In prior posts, I’ve talked a little bit about how I get ready for class.  However, I’ve changed some things that I do before class because some of my classes this semester have necessitated it.  I still keep the same basic routine, but I thought I’d update you on the changes I’ve made.

Book Briefing

Throughout the last two semesters, I’ve learned that book briefing is more efficient both in class and outside of class than writing out briefs.  I found that most of the time I just copied what was already in my book.  This took up time outside of class I could use to do other things, like read for class or start my outlines.  Additionally, a lot of my professors would ask questions regarding information I hadn’t copied into my brief but was highlighted in my book.  For those two reasons, I decided that typing out briefs wasn’t really for me in a majority of my classes, but were more helpful in Constitutional Law, where it’s a little easier to guess what’s important.

Another change I made was actually to my color coded highlighting system.  Last year, I stuck with a five color scheme but realized that I was missing important information in that system.  I found that with cases that have multiple concurrences/dissents, I had a hard time distinguishing where one started and another ended in between all of the yellow.  I introduced a highlighter color for marking the concurrences and dissents, and for important Supreme Court cases, the justices writing each opinion.

Pre-Class Notes

In college, I was very strongly against highlighting my textbooks so I took thorough notes in my notebooks prior to class.  Last year, I ditched that plan for highlighting important information in yellow.  However, when I went back to outline or look at that section in class, my eyes were overwhelmed with how much yellow was on each page.  This semester, I started to take actual notes on the introductory material for each reading, which has helped me retain information more and helped my eyes not glaze over looking at the pages of my textbook.  I probably don’t take as detailed notes as I did in college, but I take enough notes to get the general gist of the intro material so I can quickly see a basic overview of the material.

Statutory Supplements

This semester, three of my classes utilize statutory supplements, which means I have twice as many textbooks as I did before.  I utilized statutory supplements in classes last year, but they weren’t as important as they are this semester.  Every reading I have for Business Organizations and Fed Tax have specific statutes in them, but the casebook only refers to the statutes in the supplement and doesn’t actually write them out.  So, in order to have an idea about what the statutes actually mean, I read them before I start the casebook reading and take notes on the actual statutory language.  I don’t go into all of the minute details of the statute’s subparts unless they’re important exceptions.

How have you guys transformed your class preparation routine over your law school career?  What other things would you recommend I include in my class preparation routine?

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