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First-Year (“1L”) Outlines

Originally posted: August 16th, 2011

First-Year Outline Obsession

First year of law school offers some significant challenges. Many students find this year to be one of the most difficult years of their academic lives. One common—if not near-universal—response is that of outline obsession: first-year (1L) students tend to get lured into a never-ending attempt to create the perfect outline. This obsession gets fueled by several different players in the first-year scene, including:

  • —well-meaning law professors who remember obsessing over their own outlines and reason that, since they did it, it must be the thing to do
  • —commercial publishers of law outlines (e.g., Gilbert’s, Emmanuel’s) who have a profit motive for fueling the frenzy
  • —second-year (2L) and third-year (3L) law students who, like their professors, subscribe to the it’s-right-because-I-did-it theory
  • —other first-year students who are daunted by the amount of material they need to know and grasp onto the notion of outline omnipotence as a way to manage the stress and anxiety of first year of law school

Benefits and Drawbacks

Not surprisingly, there are both benefits and drawbacks relating to obsessing over one’s outline. More to come on both the good and the bad of first-year outlines. . . .