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In Case You Missed It: What You Need to Know: Surviving Your First Semester of Law School - Law Students News

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Law Student News


Posted on: Sep 27, 2016

Holly Wanzer is a founding attorney of Wanzer Edwards, PC where she practices in the areas of family law, including collaborative law and family mediation. Ms. Wanzer earned her Juris Doctor summa cum laude in 1999 from Indiana University Robert McKinney School of Law. She recently shared her thoughts and insights with students on how to survive the first semester of law school at IndyBar's first "What You Need to Know" event of the year. A few items are noted below.

Why outline at all?

70% of time will be spent on the process of condensing materials into YOUR study guide.
30% in reviewing (the outline) to prepare for the exam.

When to begin outlining?

Holly recommends a few weeks prior to the test. During Thanksgiving break so that when you go into the review sessions you already know what you don’t know.

What are the main topics?

Look at your class syllabus and well as the organization of the textbook.
Both will likely begin with a historical case or a case that lays out multiple prongs. The key is how the elements are present or absent within a case. FIND THE EDGES to determine when something is in or out.

What to include in an outline?

Information for the case briefs such as holdings and the court’s reasoning. In the movie Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Arc, they are digging for the Arc in the wrong location. They move locations and hit a piece of the Arc. In the same manner, remember that the first case hits the surface of the issue/main concept and the rest of the cases you’re digging for the edges/outer limits.

READ EACH CASE WITH PURPOSE. Each case adds a piece of information. As you are reading, ask yourself:

  • Why am I reading this case in this class?
  • Why is this case in this chapter?
  • Why is this case in this part of the chapter?

TIP: EVERYTHING IN THE SYLLABUS IS FAIR GAME. This includes topics that were to be discussed during a cancelled class or if you are to read four cases for tomorrow’s class but during class, your professor has a vibrant discussion on a single case and you never get to the other three. The other three cases are still testable.

If you found this information to be helpful and want to hear, you can view the entire What You Need to Know: Surviving Your First Semester of Law School session here.  

Part 2 of Holly’s presentation, What You Need to Know: Surviving Your First Law School Exam, will take place on Thursday, October 27 at 1pm. To register, go here.

If you would like to submit content or write an article for the Law Student Division page, please email Kara Sikorski at ksikorski@indybar.org.

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