Academics News

Weekly Academic Success Tip - Have YOU Started Outlining Yet?

When created correctly, an outline will become your primary, and possibly only, study aid for exams.  While law students create outlines in order to have an aid from which to study, it is through the process of creating an outline that you actually learn the law.  Because outlining is a process that continues throughout the year, you need to begin at some point during the first month of classes.  Why?  If you wait to work on your outlines until the end of the semester, it is unlikely that you will have enough time to complete them prior to exams. Listen to your professors and to your colleagues that received A’s and B’s last semester - start your outlines now!  Here are some tips to keep in mind as you work on your outlines for each course.

  • View your outline as your master document for studying.  Your notes and briefs go “on the shelf” once you have outlined a section.  Your casebook is no longer your focus for completed sections.
  • Make sure your outline takes a “top down” approach.  The outline should encompass the overview of the course rather than “everything said or read” during the semester.  Main essentials include:  rules, definitions of elements, hypos of when the rule/element is met and not met, policy, arguments that can be used, and/or reasoning that courts use. 
  • Cases are usually mere vehicles for information unless they are “big” cases.  Cases generally convey the main essentials that you need for your outline and are not the focus. 
  • Condense before you outline.  If you include “everything said or read” in your outline, you will need to condense in stages to get to the main essentials that you actually need for the exam.  If you condense before you outline a section, you will save time later.
  • Use visuals when appropriate.  If you learn visually, then avoid a thousand words by using a diagram, table, flowchart, or other visual presentation for the same information. 
  • Review your outline regularly.  You want to be learning your outline as well as writing it.  The world’s best outline will not help you if you do not have time to learn it before the exam.
  • Condense your outline to one piece of paper as a checklist.  A checklist includes only the topics and sub-topics.  Use acronyms tied to funny stories to help you remember the checklist.  Write the checklist on scrap paper once the exam begins.  For an open-book exam, the checklist should start your outline.
  • If you read and prepare for your classes one or two days in advance, your Thursdays and Fridays should be open to work on your outlines – no excuses!

Interested in publishing a short article?

Professor Levinson is seeking students who have written on alternative dispute resolution (such as negotiation, mediation, and arbitration) or are interested in writing a short piece regarding alternative dispute resolution for the LBA’s Bar Briefs.  Ideally the piece will involve one of the following substantive subject areas:  Technology/IP, Litigation, Family Law (including Trusts and Estates), Law Schools, Elder Law, Ethics, Healthcare Law (including FMLA) or Tax, but any piece on ADR will be considered.  Please contact Professor Levinson if you are interested.

Weekly Academic Success Tip - Staying Organized

Being organized is essential to being a good attorney.  Law school is a great place to learn better organizational skills.  Here are some tips that can improve your organization:

  • Keep all of your law school study materials in one place in your home rather than scattered in many areas.  When you have finished with study materials, return them immediately to that designated place.
  • Before you go to bed at night, sort out the materials you need to take to school the next day and put them together.
  • Keep student organization materials in folders or notebooks separate from your course materials.
  • Keep materials for your part-time work in folders or notebooks separate from your course materials.
  • Keep the syllabus, case briefs, class notes, and handouts for a course together in a 3-ring binder.  Designate a separate 3-ring binder for each of your classes.
  • If color helps you organize, use different colored folders or binders for school courses, work, student organizations, etc.
  • Read your syllabus carefully; highlight due dates and transfer them immediately to your calendar.
  • Always date your class notes.
  • Have as many consistent abbreviations as possible to use in your notes and outlines for all classes.  For each new subject, decide on special abbreviations for that class to use in your notes and outlines and stay consistent.
  • If bold, italics, underlining, all capitals and/or font changes help you learn, use them consistently in your outlines.
  • Have a consistent system to indicate material that your professor emphasized in class.  For example:  insert a star, underline the material, highlight the material in a different color, etc.
  • Have a consistent system to indicate material that you have questions about.  For example:  “Q”, “?”, red asterisk, red ink, etc.
  • If flow charts help you, use a large dry erase board for formulating a flow chart before you finalize it on paper or on your computer.
  • Regularly back-up your computer files on a thumb drive or CD.

First Structured Study Groups - Today

Structured Study Groups meet today from 1:00 to 2:00.  Room numbers are listed below:

Elisabeth Fitzpatrick Room 075

John Friend Room 080

Samantha Hupman Room 171

Ross Jordan Room 079/071

Vince Kline Room 275

Greg Mayes Room 270

Brittany McKenna Room 077

Thomas Stevens Room 060

Amanda Warford Room 177

Weekly Academic Success Tip - Time Management

Time is a commodity that most law students lament during law school.  However, there are some time management techniques that can really improve your control over your learning and your quality of life.  Here are some suggestions on how to make time your friend instead of your enemy.

You should manage your time on three levels:  monthly, weekly and daily.  Each of these three levels complements the other two so that you work effectively and efficiently rather than haphazardly. 

You can use paper templates to manage your monthly and weekly calendars or you can use Outlook or your own electronic templates.  In addition, you can use a paper “to do” list for daily management.  Weekly templates are posted on the Academic Success webpage http://www.law.louisville.edu/academics/academic-success.

For weekly time management, here are the steps you should take:

  • You will get more out of your reading if you do not do it the day before class or the day of class.  Instead, read for a class two days before you have class.  For example, read on Saturday for Monday; on Sunday for Tuesday; on Monday for Wednesday; etc.  This schedule allows you to read more carefully and to reflect on the material while reading; allows you time to review before class; and allows you to have Thursdays and Fridays for outlining, practice questions, time for papers or projects, review of your outlines, etc.
  • Put your commitments in first:  class attendance; structured study group sessions; work hours; study group times; sleep; meals; exercise; student organization meetings; non-law reward time, etc. 
  • Then, fill in your reading/briefing, review before class, review of class notes within 24 hours, outlining, practice questions, project time, review time.  If you overdid it on reward time, you will have to designate additional study time. 
  • For most law students, 40-45 hours per week outside of class throughout the entire semester will mean reviewing near exam time instead of learning it for the first time. 
  •  Include some blocks of “flex” time in case an assignment takes longer than usual or you were ill and needed to alter your schedule as a result.  You then have additional times set aside when you can study and will not panic if you are surprised by an assignment or life event in a particular week.
  • It will take 2-3 weeks to get a weekly schedule that feels comfortable and works consistently.  As you evaluate what worked and did not work each week, alter the schedule to make better use of your “alert” time and your ability to concentrate in blocks.  Include short breaks within longer blocks of studying so that you are able to focus and concentrate.
  • The rewards for good time management are that your stress goes down, you are better prepared for studying for the bar, and you are better equipped as a new lawyer to manage a client load and work tasks.

Law School Weather-Related Late Start and Early Dismissal Policies

Please see below the Law School policy about weather delays and early cancellations of classes:

  • If the University has a delayed start, any class that normally ends before 10:25 a.m. should be considered canceled.
  • If the University cancels evening classes, any class that normally begins at 4:15 p.m. or later should be considered canceled.

Thank you.  Associate Deans Arnold and Bean

Weekly Academic Success Tip - New Study Techniques

There is always a buzz around the law school when a new semester begins.  Students are enthusiastic about starting new courses, and some students have decided new study strategies are in order.  Here is some information that will help you to be successful in implementing any new strategies:

  • Research shows that it takes 21 days to implement a new habit fully.  Do not expect overnight success with new study techniques.  It will take several weeks before the new technique “feels part of you” and is more natural. 
  • Do not expect to change “everything” at once.  If you expect yourself to lose 20 pounds, quit smoking, cut out all caffeine, cut out all sugar, call your parents every Sunday, learn Spanish, find true love, write the great American novel, get straight “A’s” instead of “C’s” …  Well, you get the picture.  You need to make realistic changes in several areas rather than try for the impossible and set yourself up for defeat.
  • Be very reasoned in your selection of new study techniques.  Ask the following questions:

Is the new study technique compatible with my learning preferences?

Is the new study technique part of “law school mythology” or does it make sense for me?

Is the new study technique compatible with necessary areas of improvement that my professors have mentioned during evaluations of my exams?

If the new study technique is touted by other students who use it, do I know if they are “A” or “B” students so that I know it has a record of success?

Does the new study technique help me learn material throughout the entire semester rather than in the last few weeks?

Does the new study technique boost memory or work against memory?

Will the new study technique work for all courses or is it more specific to a certain subject matter?

Does the new study technique help me to be more efficient and effective in my studying?

Is the new study technique tied to learning or just to avoiding doing the work myself?

Do I know someone who uses the new study technique so that I can discuss the pros and cons before I invest the time?

What do I see as the pluses and pitfalls of implementing this new study technique?

  • Very structured time management helps to curb procrastination.  Working on curbing procrastination helps you have better time management.  It is a “hand in glove” relationship.  If you need help with these two aspects, work individually with Ms. Kimberly Ballard.
  • If you are unsure about a new study technique even after evaluating it, consider whether it has enough positive potential that you want to try it out for one week to decide whether to implement it permanently.

Kentucky Bar Exam Presentation Next Tuesday

Students planning to take the July 2011 or February 2012 Kentucky Bar Exam should plan to attend the January 11 bar program.  Guest speakers, Eric Ison, Chair of the Kentucky Board of Bar Examiners, and Bonnie Kittinger, Director and General Counsel of the Kentucky Office of Bar Admissions,  will discuss the following important information and answer your questions:

  • Most common mistakes students make on their bar applications
  • Most common questions received by the Kentucky Office of Bar Admissions
  • Statistics for bar passage
  • Essay component of the Kentucky Bar Exam – what subjects are covered; how questions are drafted; how answers are graded
  • Do's and Don'ts when answering essay questions on the Kentucky Bar Exam

The program will begin at 12:15, in Room 275.  Pizza will be provided.

 

Weekly Academic Success Tip - Tips for a New Semester

Here are some things to consider at the start of this new semester.  The Academic Success Office is available to help you with any of the areas for which you want to make an appointment.

  • Remember that a grade measured your knowledge and application on one set of questions at one point in time on one day.  If you did well, congratulations.  But do not slack off because you think you will do that well again without working hard.  If you did not do as well as you wanted, realize that changes in study habits can make a world of difference.  Some people catch on to law school faster than others.
  • Study smarter not harder.  There are many strategies and techniques that can make you more efficient and effective.  Law school success is not only about knowing the law and applying it.  Law school success is also about knowing how to study the law.  Even 2L and 3L students can benefit from new study habits. 
  • Ask for assistance if you are not happy with your grades.  You are not destined to be the “great middle” of your class if you are willing to take control of the situation and seek help.  Make an appointment with the Director of Academic Success.  Ask questions regularly of your professors.  Find a good study partner or study group.  If you are a 1L, participate in the Structured Study Group program. 
  • Use study aids wisely.  Study aids are supplements to your own work and processing of the material.  Study aids are not shortcuts.  You must do the struggling with the material to understand it deeply and be able to apply it.  Use study aids to assist in your understanding.
  • Remember that memorization of the law takes time.  You must know your “black letter” law as a foundation.  You must know the main rules, the exceptions to the rules, the variations on the rules, and the exact elements/factors of the rules.  Drill.  Drill.  Drill.
  • Outline regularly for every course.  By staying on top of your outlining, you give yourself a master document from which to study for exams.  You need to understand the overview, the relationship among concepts, the methodologies (steps of analysis and tests), and enough detail to flesh all of it out.  By condensing material each week, you begin to master these four levels of knowledge.
  • Review regularly throughout the semester.  Study for exams all semester long.  If you distribute your learning, you will have deeper understanding of the law, retain information better, recall information better, recognize issues more easily, and be able to answer questions more effectively.  You forget 80% of what you learn within two weeks without regular review.  If you wait until the last six weeks to study for exams, you will be re-learning nine weeks of material while you are learning six weeks of material for the first time. 
  • Practice applying the law.  It is essential to know the law, but you MUST be able to apply the law to new fact scenarios.  The more practice questions you do, the better you will be at spotting issues, understanding nuances in the law, and using proper test-taking techniques.
  • Use time management techniques to your advantage.  You can get all of your tasks done every week and still have time to enjoy life!  If you will work with the Director of Academic Success on how to structure your time, you can read/brief, review before class, outline, review for exams, write papers, and complete practice questions each week with time left over.

Overloads, Skills Competitions, and Journal Hours

In December 2010, the Faculty adopted a new rule concerning overloads and journal and skills competition credits.  The new rule allows students to take additional hours in certain circumstances.  Permission from the Associate Dean for Student Life, however, is still required.  The rule follows:


A part-time student who works more than 20 hours per week and is enrolled in 11 or 12 credit-hours in a given semester, or a full-time student who is enrolled in 17 or 18 credit-hours in a given semester may add up to two credits of skills competition and/or journal membership/editorship during the semester, notwithstanding the fact that the added credits will put the student over the respective limit on credit hours, provided that the student otherwise qualifies for such credit.