Few things are more helpful in a law school class than a good outline. Good outlines can bail you out of a difficult cold call, speed up your casebook reading, and improve your exam preparation. And by “good outline” I mean one made by a former student for your professor’s class. Generic bar prep outlines just don’t cut it, and outlines for other professors aren’t any better. You want outlines made for the exact class you are being taught, and the more good outlines you can get your hands on, the better.
So how can you find these outlines? Just follow my tips below.
Outline banks are by far the easiest way to get your hands on good outlines. You can pay for outlines on OutlineDepot.com, but there are a lot of outline banks that offer outlines for free. I usually can find outlines without ever having to purchase any.
I generally start by looking at my school’s bar association outline bank. Most law school bar associations have outline banks either on their website or on TWEN. These are generally open to the public, so you likely won’t even need to be a member of the bar association to grab the outlines you want. Plus, if you look for your school’s bar association on a search engine, you might be able to find an old website for the association with even more outlines.
Next, I suggest making a list of all the major student organizations at your law school. For example, if your school has a really active criminal law society, it would go on the list. Then find the website or TWEN site for each of these organizations. You will probably find that many have outline banks, some of which require no login information to access.
Finally, go to large outline banks that are meant to be used by students at all law schools. For example, you can use https://www.reddit.com/r/LawSchoolOutlines. But the key is to look only for outlines from your professor. It’s unlikely that you’ll find many here, but it’s worth taking a look.
Take a look at your professor’s bio page on your school’s website. Here you can find out if your professor taught at another school. If so, look for outline banks from that school to find outlines for your professor, assuming your professor taught the same class at both schools.
You can also look for terms specific to your professor’s class on a search engine and see what comes up. For example, I had an idiosyncratic Torts professor that said a lot of unique phrases. I searched for each of them to see if any of his former students had posted an outline somewhere. You can also search for phrases used in the commentary portions of your casebook if your professor happens to be the author of it.
Talk to other students on campus and ask for outlines. Most people know this an option but feel awkward actually making the ask. However, I am a firm believer that this is a something all law students should get used to doing. You plan to be a lawyer, right? Then you need to get used to socializing with your peers, asking for help, and having slightly uncomfortable conversations. In other words, treat this an opportunity to grow. And the payoff great; almost everyone is willing to share outlines for classes they already finished.