Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Law School Lingo
Before I started law school, I heard all of these different terms get thrown around and I had no idea what they meant. So I thought I would devote this post to de-mystifying some of the terms you may hear before you begin your 1L year.
Case Briefs or “Briefing a Case”: Some professors may require that you “brief” every case you read before coming into class. This means writing out a short synopsis of the case, broken down into segments such as facts, procedural posture (which court we are in and how it got there), the issue, the court’s analysis, the holding, and any concurring/dissenting opinions. Case briefs are helpful in figuring out what is important to know for class, and there are many case briefs floating around online that can be helpful to look at if your head is still spinning after you first read a case. That being said, briefing is always best if you do it yourself. I like to “book brief” – meaning I don’t prepare a separate document, instead I highlight directly in my textbook, using a different color for the facts, procedural posture, issue, analysis, and holding. I have found this helpful when I get cold-called -- I know what to look for in my textbook.
Outlines: You will hear a lot about outlines and when to outline. Outlines are essentially a comprehensive study guide of everything from an entire course, written in a bullet-point style to aid in memorization prior to exams. Outlines are available online, but as I mentioned earlier, since ultimately you are responsible for the information, it is just better if you make your own.
Commercial Supplements: These are books available for purchase from companies like Emanuel Law Outlines, Gilbert Law Summaries, and Examples and Explanations. These are broad explanations tailored to each class, and can be helpful in reinforcing concepts or explaining something differently from how your professor conveyed it. These are helpful to make sure you understand things, but again, your professor will be writing your exam so it is most crucial that you understand what is covered in class.
Bar Review: This is another one that can cause some 0L confusion. Bar review has nothing to do with studying for the bar – instead it is the term for law school events at various bars or clubs throughout Los Angeles. Get it?… “Bar” review… I have no idea who coined that term, but I bet they were pretty proud of themselves.
Law school can be its own little world sometimes with its own unique language. Now you can feel a little bit more informed when people start saying things like “Oh, I have a really great contracts outline I can send you.”