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Even More about First-Year Law Outlines

The Upside

While there is a great deal of downside to the “outline obsession” that tends to overtake first-year (1L) law school students, outlining one’s first-year topics—property, constitutional law, civil procedure, and the lot—can be beneficial.  Potential benefits from first-year law outlines include:

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 — enhanced memorization / recall of the law:  the outline can be used to help students memorize rule statements; this possibility is, of course, the main theoretical justification for making an outline at all
— increased understanding of the law:  the outline—specifically, the process of making an outline—can facilitate a person’s delving deeper into the subject matter; this possibility represents the best opportunity of all to make outlining worthwhile
— it’s something to do:  the outline can become a sort of “lightning rod” that attracts the attention of a student who would otherwise have difficulty concentrating / studying
— anxiety reduction:  some students find that, by working on their outlines, they feel more “in control” of there first-year of law school and therefore less anxious about it

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Effective Engagement—Not the Outline Itself—Is the Real Reason to Outline

Notice that all of the above possible benefits to law outlining pertain to the effect of the outline on the student, not the value of the finished product itself.  After all, as previously discussed, law students are not in the law publishing business, so a student’s outline will probably never be used again once the final exam ends.

But achieving these desirable effects does not necessarily follow from merely doing an outline.  These effects flow from effectively engaging in the process of outlining.

This effective engagement is, in short, the key to making one’s outline efforts worthwhile. Effectively engaging in the outlining process—and the learning process generally—will be the topic of upcoming articles.

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Law Reviews and Law Journals | Law School Insights

Making the Most of One’s Time in Law School

Many students have heard about “making law review” without really knowing what that means.  Some insights ahead of time may help one make better decisions before and during law school about this topic.

What Is Law Review?

Law reviews may be described as sort of the academic equivalent of a magazine.  Most law schools publish their magazine—their “law review”— between four and eight times per year. The magazine is edited by students.  This editing process includes both article selection (i.e., deciding what articles to publish in the magazine) and article proofreading, fact-checking, and polishing.

The authors of the articles in the magazine are usually law professors, but the authors are not necessarily from the school that publishes the magazine in which the articles run.  In other words, UCLA Law Review may publish articles that are by UCLA professors, but they may also publish articles from law professionals who have no formal tie to UCLA.

What Does It Mean to “Make Law Review”?

When a student “makes law review,” he or she is invited to be part of the magazine’s staff.

How Does One Make Law Review?

The process of being selected to join a given school’s law review staff depends on the institution.  One can typically be accepted by achieving a certain academic standing during one’s first year of law school, by being in the top 10% of one’s first year class, for instance.  One can also “write on” to law review at many schools by prevailing in a writing competition.

Check this blog again soon for more discussion of law reviews and law journals.

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The Importance of First Year (1L)

Performing well during your first year of law school can have some pretty interesting consequences.  Law reviews and other journals typically make their membership decisions based on first-year grades and tryouts.  Law firms generally only have your grades from first semester upon which to base their decisions in offering summer associate positions.  Even one’s peers and family members can get pretty serious about comparing grades.

Meanwhile, these outside decision-makers are, in turn, shaping your job prospects after law school.  For instance, making law review may have a lasting effect on your competitive standing in the job market.

Finally, the first-year experience can impact your own attitude toward law and a legal career, perhaps leaving you feeling confident and excited or frustrated and self-doubting.

For all of these reasons, getting off to a good start is crucial.  That’s one reason why LEX academic director Shelton Harrison created the LSAPP Law School Bootcamp.

 

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