University of Louisville Law Faculty Blog

Do Successful Students Take Notes by Transcription?


Today some of my colleagues were discussing potential drawbacks of students using computers in the classroom.  Some felt that one of the major drawbacks is that students simply "transcribe" everything that is said rather than engaging in selective-note-taking, and the class.

I am interested in learning more about this because I talk often with my students about note-taking, learning styles, and study habits.  I am wondering what your thoughts about this are.  Please share them with me by commenting or clicking here

If you are a professor, do you agree that transcribing is a poor way of learning?  Have you noticed that students who transcribe tend to do less well?   Is transcribing on a computer different than taking comprehensive handwritten notes that extensively cover almost every word that is said in class?  Does the effectiveness of transcribing differ from person to person, depending on the student's learning style and what else the student is doing to engage with the material?

Does anyone know of any research on this topic?  I can imagine that those that study academic support principles, learning theory, or learning styles might have information about the differences between handwriting notes and typing notes, as well as the differences between selective note-taking and comprehensive note-taking.

If you are a student, do you tend to type everything that is said?  If so, do you do well in your classes?  Poorly?  Are you also following along, thinking, and answering questions raised by the professor to yourself at the same time you are transcribing?  Do you review the transcript later to correct mistakes, clarify statements, and write down your questions about the material?  Do you review it again when you are outlining to prepare for the paper or exam?

In the interest of full-disclosure, while I attended law school before the dawn of the computer-in-the class era, I was notorious for taking comprehensive notes.  Many of my peers, should they need to miss a class, would rather have had anyone else than me take notes for them.  They would elect to use selective notes that doubtless missed more than one key idea over near verbatim notes that did not differentiate between important and less important ideas.

That said, I realize that multi-tasking is not typically as successful as focusing on one task.  I am open to the idea that focusing on transcribing may detract from a student's ability to focus on engaging with the class.

Current Abortion Standards

The standards in Casey still apply.  When the fetus reaches viability, the state has a greater interest and may impose regulations that do not unduely burden a woman's choice.  Gonzales v. Carhart does not change this standard, but allows that the ban of a particular procedure (intact D & E) does not constitute such a burden even though there is no exception for the life and/or health of the woman.

Exam4 update required

Jim Becker wanted to remind you that there is a new version of Exam4 since the mid-term exam. You will have to download to current version for the final exam. The version of Exam4 that you used for the mid-term has expired and cannot be used for end of semester finals.

If you need the finals version, you may download it here:

Final Exam Content

The following is "fair game" for the final exam:

 The first introductory lecture plus anything from medical staff structure (Feb. 14) through tax exemption (April 8) including "Sicko."  You will not be tested on antitrust.

Tips for a Successful Student Oral Argument

My students put together a very helpful list of tips for other students engaging in their first appellate oral argument.  (Students doing their second or third one might also find it helpful, as might practitioners doing their first.)  Their google document can be linked to here

Equal Pay Day


Did you know women in the United States are still paid only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men? For women of color, the numbers are even worse - African American women earn 63 cents and Latinas earn 52 cents for every dollar paid to white men.

To commemorate Equal Pay Day, which will be recognized on Tuesday, April 22, the US Senate is expected to vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (HR 2831) soon. The bill will amend Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (Pub. L. 90-202), and reverse the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (No. 05-1074) to restore adequate protection against pay discrimination.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was passed by the House in July 2007 and is now on the Senate’s calendar. Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are among the bill’s cosponsors.

Take Action & Get Informed

Blog for Fair Pay

  • Use this online form to contact your Senators and tell them you support the Fair Pay Restoration Act (S 1843).
  • Compare your salary to that of your coworkers with the Courier-Journal’s Government Salary Database.


Pay Equity Fact Sheet

Supreme Court Ruling & Fair Pay Restoration Act Fact Sheet

Corporate Practice of Medicine

The question asked was how to distinguish between Bartron V. Codington County and Berlin v. Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center.  There are 2 factors that make a difference between these 2 cases.
The first is that this is governed by state law and there is still a lot of variation from state to state.  The cases come from 2 different jurisdictions.  

The second factor is that this is an old doctrine that is now going out of favor.  The Bartron case is 1942 and the Berlin case is 1997.  I don't know if the Bartron case would still be good law today in most states.  The reason to study this is just to have an awareness that employment contracts with physicians and physician groups may be treated differently from state to state depending on whether that state has a corporate practice of medicine doctrine.

Flavor Flav for Kentucky State Senate!


As the train wreck that was the 2008 session of the Kentucky General Assembly screeched and clanked to the constitutionally mandated deadline of midnight April 15, it suddenly became clear that it needed more time. Drawing on the omnipotent power conveyed upon them by the citizens of Kentucky, Senate leader David Williams and House leader Jody Richards raised their hands high and commanded time to stand still!

OK, actually they unplugged the clocks and went on to pass at least five bills after the day of April 16th had dawned, if WHAS' Mark Hebert and the Lexington Herald-Leader's Ryan Alessi are counting correctly. There is talk of someone asking Attorney General Jack Conway to write an opinion as to whether this is legal. (This could be the oddest OAG since Attorney General Squire Boone opined on whether the 1826 legislature could repeal the law of gravity).*

"And yet it moves." Or so muttered Galileo after recanting his daft idea that the sun did not revolve around the earth. However, no timid Tuscan can teach the legislature the lesson it truly needs. No, they need someone to tell them (straight up, boyee) what time it is. Flavor Flav is the man for the job.** First, he brings his own personal clock (like to see someone get up in his grill to silence that time-piece). Second, he has the resume that indicates he will stand up to the legislative leaders to end pork-barrel politics and support state priorities. Let his friend, Chuck D explain:

Gettin' small makin' room for it all
Flavors on the phone so he can...
Make the call
I know you're clockin' the enemy
You should be clockin' the time
Checkin' records I'm wreckin' you
For defecting my rhyme
No provokin', no jokin', you know the stage is set
If you're thinkin' I'm breakin'
He ain't rocked it yet
My education is takin' you for a long ride
I'll have you brain slip and do the slide
Glide into infinity, it's infinite
With your hands in your pockets
I know your money is spent
Like this, like that, butter for the fat
If you kill my dog, I'ma slay your cat
It's like that y'all, can you handle it son
I'm public enemy number one

From "Terminator X To The Edge Of Panic"

Under Sen. Flav, fat (as well as butter) will be cut and education will supported (from the two infinity references, I assume that science education is a priority). And finally, somebody to put David Williams' tabby on notice!


* Not actually true.

** Once he establishes residency--how hard could that be? Stephenson v. Woodward, 182 S.W.3d 162 (Ky., 2005).

Another Approach to Constitutional Issues


Unlike the United States, South Africa has a special Constitutional Court devoted solely to hearing matters arising under the constitution.  The Constitutional Court opened on February 14, 1995 and has 11 members.  These members are appointed by the President after consultation with the Chief Justice and leaders of the political parties in Parliament.  The Justices who serve nonrenewable 12 to 15 year terms are a mix of academics, advocates and lower court judges.  The Judges sit in Braamfontein and wear distinctive green robes.


Americans may be interested in knowing about some of the landmark cases this court has already addressed in its short history.  I mention just two here.


The Death Penalty:  Although much debate ensued when drafting the constitution about the death penalty, the drafters chose not to decide whether it would be permitted in South Africa.  The Constitutional Court abolished the death penalty during one of the first cases heard by it in 1995.  The decision can be found at


Gay Marriage: The common law definition and section 30(1) of the Marriage Act of 1961 were ruled unconstitutional because they did not permit same-sex couples to enjoy the same status, entitlements and responsibilities accorded to married heterosexual couples.  To learn more about the case go to


Many more interesting cases can be found at  Some of the issues addressed involve the right to housing, right to health care and access to HIV/Aids treatment, and the right of prisoners to vote.  For those of you interested, this website also gives an excellent history and overview of the South African Constitutional Court.  I found it fascinating as the Court is dealing with many issues and topics currently raging in the United States.  Seeing another nation’s perspectives on these topics may make our debates more meaningful.

A Plea to South Africa and the World


The words may not be identical but the plea is always the same:


“Please South Africa, we are crying unto you and hoping that you will follow your God-given instinct and bring to an end all this chaos in Zimbawe.  I am a Zimbabwean person, and I know that we are rather fearful, we are not as brave as you are.  We are too scared to go to the streets.  Please we need your help, intervene on our behalf and the Lord will bless you.
Thank you South Africa, please help!” posted on


Yet President Thabo Mbeki’s response remains inexplicable.  After meeting with Mugabe this past weekend, President Mbeki reported to the world that there was no crisis and the world should be patient for the results.  And yet I hope every morning that The United Nations or other world powers will do something to help.  Normally, I would probably barely notice what is happening but being right next door to Zimbabwe has made it all too real for me.  Seeing this tragedy unfold in front of me is so heartbreaking as you read the desperation in the voices of the Zimbabweans.  The world can wait no longer.  Already retired military have terrorized the farmers and more violence is promised.  How can South Africa, the United States and the rest of the world do nothing?  We must answer these pleas before it is too late.  Africa, please do not abandon this country which once was the bread basket of the continent.  It makes one seriously question what we would do if there was oil under the ground.