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School of Law


Note taking in law school is a unique art form. It is important to be aware of the kind of learner you are, and to take notes with that knowledge in mind. Are you a listener who needs to sit down each week to summarize? Do you prefer to take notes daily in class, then summarize? Or do you outline as you go along?

Listed below are some basics tips for general note taking and summarizing. Keep these tips in mind as you create your study plan.


Reasons given not to take notes:Reasons to take notes
  1. Conflict between taking notes and listening with full attention
  2. Not knowing what to take notes on
  3. Confusion
  4. Other...
  1. Learn from your professor!
  2. Make a record of class discussions.
  3. Recreate the questions for analysis.
  4. Identify terms of art and how your professor uses them.
  5. Know what you missed by comparing with others.
  6. Get multiple reviews for effective learning.
  7. Use as resource for practice questions.


How to take notes:

  1. The best way you can! Something is better than nothing!
  2. Questions + summary of responses and hypotheticals are especially helpful.
  3. Review after class and add to notes while you still remember important concepts covered in class.
  4. Make later additions in a different color.

Weekly Summary


General Themes:

What is the big picture (main topic areas) for the week?

Class discussions addressed what general issues?

How do the cases relate to each other?

    • Do they represent a progression or evolution of the law? Do they show variations?
    • How are these cases alike? How are they different?

Steps of analysis

What legal tests might you need to make for new problems in this topic area?

    • Is there a sequence you need to follow?
    • Create a fact pattern that illustrates a legal principle and analysis

Public Policy Arguments