How to Make a Law School Outline



Learn how to make a law school outline. In this episode I explain what should go into your outline and what should not.

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Your outline is, nothing more and nothing less, than your blueprint for doing well on your exam. This means understanding law school exam grading, which I cover in detail in the episode called “Law School Exam Grading.”

Learn Law Better is designed to help law students in law school and those preparing for the bar exam. These videos can help you learn how to retain more information, and are better than your typical law school study aid. Also, by following our law school essay and law school exam tips you will get better law school grades.

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19 comments

  1. So don’t put case briefs in your outline? I’m debating whether or not I should add it in or just have it separate from my outline and refer to that if needed.

  2. Hello. If possible, I would like to get some clarification on outlines, please. In one of your videos on outlines, you mentioned that an outline is a summary of your notes written before class and notes written in class. In another video, you mention that we should include rule statements (only?). So, does an outline include only rule statements or notes or both? Thanks!

  3. Your videos are always helpful, especially now.

    I just started law school on the 17th.
    It’s on a block schedule, so torts is only 1 month, then we swap to another class.

    It’s been an experience!

  4. Is it true that law students should focus most of their study attention on outlines and rules? I seen a video talking about not engaging in futile efforts in law school. Some people place a heavy value on doing well on case briefing and cold calls while the smart students focus on what will be on the exams ie outlines & rules.

  5. Some time ago, one of our Professors advised in a newsletter that a good way to revise for an exam is to outline the exam and study the outline not the answer you come up with using your outline in as much as the text of the current [the exam you're taking in real time limited to 3 hours 15 minutes] exam will have the same theme but different wording.

    Taking her advice to heart, I've outlined a question from Part B of the 2016 exam and present the fruits of my efforts below for your revision consideration:

    Vanessa has been working for the Ace taxi company as a driver for six months. Ace pay Vanessa’s national insurance and tax but she has to purchase her own car and insurance. She works according to very strict protocols governing how clients must be treated (this includes a script telling her how to greet clients and how her job of taxi driving must be done). On the day in question, Vanessa had collected Ian, a long term client of Ace, who had arranged to be driven to the airport to catch an urgent flight. Whilst in the car Ian began to choke on some nuts that he was eating. Vanessa panicked and diverted the car from the usual route to the airport into a quiet area – with the intention of providing first aid. Unfortunately, she collided with another car whilst doing so. Ian had begun to recover on his own, but Vanessa was having a serious argument with the other driver, Sally, when she lost her temper and violently attacked Sally, rendering her unconscious. Ian, now very alarmed, tried to leave the taxi but Vanessa slammed the door and insisted (against Ian’s protests) on driving him to the airport. Ian’s hand was caught in the car door and he suffered a bad injury.

    Advise Ace as to their rights and liabilities in respect of Ian’s and Sally’s injuries.
    General remarks:
    The question concerns vicarious liability, trespass to the person, false imprisonment and negligence.
    Some of the cases, reports and other references the examiners would expect you to use include:
    Nettleship v Weston [1971] 2 QB 691
    Facts
    A driving instructor was injured by his pupil when the pupil negligently crashed.
    Issue
    Could the learner driver (pupil) be liable?
    Decision
    Yes.
    Reasoning
    By being on the road, the learner driver is expected to behave as a reasonable driver.

    Mattis v Pollock [2003] 1 WLR 2158.

    An English tort law case, establishing an employer's vicarious liability for assault, even where it may be intentional or pre-meditated. Previously, judges had been unwilling to impose liability where assaults were motivated by revenge or vengeance; it was established however that following the decision of Lister v Hesley Hall Ltd, that where an assault is closely linked to the duties of an employee, the employer should be held vicariously liable.

    Judge LJ did not look to establish that the stabbing had occurred in the course of Cranston's employment, but whether the stabbing was closely connected to his work, and instruction. It was of particular importance that Mr Cranston had been instructed by Mr Pollock, and was known to be, violent and intimidating toward customers:

    “Mr Pollock chose to employ Cranston, knowing and approving of his aggressive tendencies, which he encouraged rather than curbed, and the assault on Mr Mattis represented the culmination of an incident which began in Mr Pollock's premises and involved his customers, in which his employee behaved in the violent and aggressive manner which Mr Pollock expected of him.”

    Rose v Plenty [1976] 1 WLR 14

    An English tort law case, on the issue of where an employee is acting within the course of their employment. Vicarious liability was tenuously found under John William Salmond's test for course of employment, which states that an employer will be held liable for either a wrongful act they have authorised, or a wrongful and unauthorised mode of an act that was authorised.

    Mohamud v WM Morrison Supermarkets plc [2016] UKSC 11.

    JUDGMENT

    The Supreme Court unanimously allows the Claimant’s appeal and holds the Respondent vicariously liable for the actions of its employee, Mr Khan, in attacking the Claimant. Lord Toulson gives the lead judgment.

    REASONS FOR THE JUDGMENT

    The court has to consider two matters. First, the court must ask what function or field of activities has been entrusted by the employer to the employee (i.e. what was the nature of his job). This is to be viewed broadly. Second, the court must decide whether there was a sufficient connection between the position in which he was employed and his wrongful conduct to make it right for the employer to be held liable.

    Applying that test here, it was Mr Khan’s job to attend to customers and respond to their inquiries. His conduct in responding to the Claimant’s request with abuse was inexcusable, but interacting with customers was within the field of activities assigned to him by his employer. What happened thereafter was an unbroken sequence of events. The connection between the field of activities assigned to Mr Khan and his employment did not cease at the moment when he came out from behind the counter and followed the Claimant onto the forecourt. There are two reasons to draw this conclusion. First, it is not correct to regard Mr Khan as having metaphorically taken off his uniform the moment he stepped out from behind the counter – he was following up on what he said to the Claimant. Secondly, when Mr Khan followed the Claimant to his car and told him not to come back to the petrol station, that there was not something personal between them, but an order to keep away from his employer’s premises. In giving the order he was purporting to act about his employer’s business.

    Mr Khan’s motive in the attack is irrelevant. It does not matter whether he was motivated by personal racism rather than a desire to benefit his employer’s business.

    Lord Dyson agrees with the reasons given by Lord Toulson and emphasises that the close connection test is the correct test to apply.

    A good answer to this question would…

    1. Explore the question of employee status and note that the facts tending to indicate a quite significant degree of control over how the role of taxi driver is performed.

    2. Argue that this case can be distinguished from others where a deviation in the standard route has proved fatal.

    3. Argue that Nettleship will apply to any assessment of Vanessa’s liability and her employer’s vicarious liability.

    By outlining – not answering – past exam questions you can apply the outline to any vicarious liability question on the exam. For example:
    "Angela was visiting her friend Betsy. She complained of a severe headache and Betsy gave her a box of painkillers that had been prescribed by her (Betsy’s) doctor. On the outside of the box and on a leaflet inside, there was a note reading: “Do not consume with alcohol. May, cause severe nausea and diarrhoea.” Angela had drunk two small glasses of wine. She took two of the painkillers (the recommended dose for an adult). An hour later she became violently ill and was admitted to the Downbeat Hospital. She was examined by Conrad, a doctor, and told him about the pills she had taken. Conrad arranged for her to be admitted and prescribed a drug to treat her condition. Daphne, the nurse on duty, misread the doctor’s notes and gave her only 10 per cent of the dosage that Conrad prescribed. Angela became more seriously ill and required painful and debilitating abdominal surgery. There is a strong possibility that, if she had been given the correct dosage, she would have recovered after a few days.

    It has now been established that Angela suffered from an extremely rare allergy to one of the ingredients of the painkillers. No other case has been identified where a person taking one of these painkillers suffered a comparable reaction. It cannot be established whether the wine had contributed to the reaction."

    "Advise Angela as to any claims in negligence against the Downbeat Hospital.
    "(Students are not required to discuss the area of Product Liability.)"
    The template I use in answering problem questions is: Introduction – Legal issues? – Conclusion so my Introduction might look like this:

    In this question we are asked to advise Claimant Angela regarding possible claims against Defendant Downbeat Hospital. While the history prior to Angela’s admission to hospital is certainly pertinent it has no bearing upon the hospital’s ultimate liability for the damage sustained by Angela while an inpatient there.

  6. Excellent suggestions. Outlining each class was the single most helpful thing I did to learn law and prepare for the finals. For most topics I had separate sub paragraphs for rule statements and elements. I did not have time to do every assignment and case brief, but i did finish a good outline for every class.

  7. People, listen to this carefully and do it. Don't wait until the last minute, it can hurt you're exam finals. This is a key area in my studies I learned from this video that are so important and very brilliantly stated. Thank you for all you do.
    Tina

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