Note-Taking in Law School

img_8357Taking notes in law school is very fast pace. When I first started law school it was hard to keep up with long PowerPoint slides, while still trying to write everything that the professor says. I take all my notes with pen and paper. For all my classes, I type my class notes at the end of the day when I get home. I do this so when I am in class I can get everything down, but when I get home I can organize my thoughts.

CONTRACT LAW

My professor for this class puts a lot of words on her slides while talking fast. I try to make the most of my time by writing down most if not all that is presented on the slide while also writing on the side what she says out loud. She presents rule elements as they are in the restatements in her slides. After, she explains what each element means in plain English. I always to try write down the elements in plain English, so when I go to study I know what is going on. Sometimes, she will restate an element, but in a more clear way. I try to get all the various wording of elements as presented because each one could has the possibility of helping me in the future.

When we go over the case in class I make sure to get all the background facts and things related to the case because she explicitly stated that we should know the fact patterns because they are likely to come up again. When a professor says something like this, that means that you are probably going to see a similar fact pattern when you go in to take an exam. After class, I go home and type my notes. For her class, I pull up the slides as I go through and type my notes to make sure that I did not miss anything because she goes through her slides fast and sometimes I miss things.

PROPERTY LAW

My professor in this class requests no technology to be used in class, and does not post his slides until he has finished the whole PowerPoint. I try to mostly get what he says. He writes on the board, presents PowerPoint slides, and talks fast. I used to copy everything on the board down at the beginning of class. I have now stopped doing that because he puts up all the information that he hopes he will get to. So, if he doesn’t get to it, then my notes look confusing. Once he points out what he is going through on the board, then I write it down. This is to make sure that my notes are organized. I know I will not miss the information because what he doesn’t get to he will put it back on the board next class.

In this class I mainly follow his voice and not his slides. What I mean by this is that his slides sometimes state things that he hasn’t go to yet. So, I follow along in the book, and hear what he is saying before I write any new information down. I also write out the elements how he says it, as well as write it down from the slide that is the direct language. After class, I type my notes. I follow the book since we do not have access to his slides until after the chapter is finished. I try to fill in any gaps of possible confusion. That allows me to still listen and outline in class, and when I get home I can fill in.

Something that I do different now is to write down policies for each case. I made the mistake of not doing that last semester, and it caused a lot of stress during finals.

CIVIL PROCEDURE

This class is very rule based. My professor teaches directly from the slides that he has presented. He leaves the slides up for a while which allows me to take down all notes. He goes through each element in depth, and I try to get the plain English way to say the rule. This class is straight-forward. I take notes from the slide, and write any addition things that he has to say about the topic out loud. After, I go home and pull up the slides to make sure I didn’t miss anything and type my notes.

TORTS LAW

This professor probably uses slides the least. She has slides, but they are mainly pictures with case names. Since there is not much writing on the slides, it is important that I get down everything she says verbally. I do not write down policy and cases for this class because the rule elements that come from the case are most important. She repeats herself a lot, and I try to get down everything even if she already said. This is helpful to me because it is repetition, so when I am preparing my outline I have multiple way to which I can understand the information to see the big picture. I type my notes from class. My other classes I use their slides, or casebook to help outline my notes, but this class is different.

OVERALL

I draw a lot of arrows on my paper. Sometimes my professors will bring something up that is important, but not related to the current topic and I draw an arrow to where it would go. When I get to typing my notes, then that gives me a chance to organize and recall information. This method is helpful to me because I am writing, typing and recalling things. I am a visual learner, so I learn best from when I write things down. If I was to only take notes by my computer, then I do not believe that I would be as successful as this method. Writing my notes down on paper allows me to get all the information down quickly. Typing my notes allows me to organize and recall information. My notes are sometimes scattered because I am taking as many notes as I can, as fast as I can. So, when I type them it allows me to put everything together in an organized matter.

How I take notes in each class is different. How I take notes in my property class is way different than how I take notes in Torts. It is important to know your professor and what they want because they are the ones creating your final and testing you. That is not as bad as it sounds. My professors’ explicitly say in class what they want and how they want. It is not a secret formula. I make notes of what they say at the top of my paper so I do not forget. Also, all my professors review topics from the previous class. I always write down what they review. You never know what information will be helpful when preparing for finals!

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