The random thoughts of an architect-turned- lawyer from the deep south living in Washington, DC...

Saturday, November 27, 2004


Prelude to my non-law school friends: For my exams (which start in 11 days). We are allowed to bring in any notes/books we want. The tests are from 3-4 hours and it is my understanding that this will be in 5 or so discussion questions. I have seen exams where the QUESTIONS are one page typed out. That is one hell of an answer. In answering, one really does not have the luxury of going back through the books/notes/handouts to formulate a consise, thoughtful answer. It's more like "hurry, get started". So, it is of the utmost importance to have an outline of everything from the entire semester that may provide a quick reference in the exam. Plus, the act of putting together this outline is supposed to help sort things out in your head. HA!

There are a few huge problems with me and "outlining" my notes. It's really easy when the prof. has put a power point slide in bulleted format and I just put that into my outline. It's a little less easy when I have notes in the computer, in the book, on paper, on napkins, etc. Furthermore, if I am having a non-organized day, I apparently just start writing. I don't put a date or a topic. So, here I am weeks later trying to figure out where those notes fit in. This becomes really hard when I see places in my notes that I have actually typed "blah blah blah". I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure CivPro Prof. did not say that. So, does blah refer to quasi-in-rem personal jurisdiction, or perhaps a duces tecum subpoena...no no no, it must be the 2004 amendments to Rule 11 that eliminate the safe harbour provision of sanctions. (Don't worry if you don't understand any of that...neither do I!)

The second problem is that I am already a pack rat! I keep every single thing pertaining to anything about my classes. Now, in trying to sum things up, I am supposed to choose what is the important information. Ummm, I would have to say all of it. However, it will not do me much good to try to flip through a 100+ page "summary" during the test. I have limited myself to a # of pages in the mid to low 20's. Contracts, I am good.

CivPro...another story. There are so many cases. In the beginning, I had such motivation. I would read a case, then brief it. (Break the case down into important elements - easily recognized.) Most of my briefs are about a page typed in bulleted format. I would print that out, bring it into class, and jot notes on it. I have a whole section in my notebook of case briefs that I can refer to if necessary. That way, I can use BRIEF synopses in the outline for the exam. This was all in the interests of "future" efficiency. Then one day, "present" efficiency won out. After about case #41 I got sick of doing that. In fact, I was lucky if I had time to read the case brief online, much less read/outline/brief the entire case. So, now I sit at the dining room table that I have confiscated finding myself pretty much going back to brief 20+ cases. Good thinking, LB. I must say, I am definitely better off than some people in class. One guy thinks it is wise not to do an outline; says he doesn't need it. YAY...that's two people I am sure I will do better than. If I can pick them off one at a time, I'll be okay:-)