law talk tuesday: law school lingo.

12 Nov

This blog is mostly a healthy living/running blog, but I can’t entirely ignore the professional/academic side of my life (which takes up almost as much of my time and energy as fitness does…but seriously).

Anyway, since this blog is partially about balance, I thought I would try and devote a weekly post to all things law/law school/etc.  Variety is the spice of life, right?

Before I started law school, I heard all of these different terms get thrown around and I had no idea what they meant. So I thought I would devote this post to de-mystifying some of the terms you may hear before you begin your 1L year  — if you’re  thinking about going to law school, have applied and are waiting to hear back from schools, or are just generally curious.  So let’s get to it:

  • Case Briefs or “Briefing a Case”:  Some professors may require that you “brief” every case you read before coming into class.  This means writing out a short synopsis of the case, broken down into segments such as facts, procedural posture (which court we are in and how it got there), the issue, the court’s analysis, the holding, and any concurring/dissenting opinions.  Case briefs are helpful in figuring out what is important to know for class, and there are many case briefs floating around online that can be helpful to look at if your head is still spinning after you first read a case.  That being said, briefing is always best if you do it yourself. I like to “book brief” – meaning I don’t prepare a separate document, instead I highlight directly in my textbook, using a different color for the facts, procedural posture, issue, analysis, and holding. I have found this helpful when I get cold-called — I know what to look for in my textbook.
my book, briefed.

my book, briefed.

  • Outlines: You will hear a lot about outlines and when to outline. Outlines are essentially a comprehensive study guide of everything from an entire course, written in a bullet-point style to aid in memorization prior to exams. Outlines are available online, but as I mentioned earlier, since ultimately you are responsible for the information, it is just better if you make your own.
torts outline. good memories.

torts outline. good memories.

  • Commercial Supplements: These are books available for purchase from companies like Emanuel Law Outlines, Gilbert Law Summaries, and Examples and Explanations.  These are broad explanations tailored to each class, and can be helpful in reinforcing concepts or explaining something differently from how your professor conveyed it. These are helpful to make sure you understand things, but again, your professor will be writing your exam so it is most crucial that you understand what is covered in class.

The necessities of life: water, iced coffee, and an Evidence E&E.

  • Bar Review: This is another one that can cause some 0L confusion.  Bar review has nothing to do with studying for the bar – instead it is the term for law school events at various bars or clubs throughout Los Angeles. Get it?… “Bar” review… I have no idea who coined that term, but I bet they were pretty proud of themselves.
law school bests celebrating the end of the year.

law school BFFs at the End of 1L Bar Review.

Law school can be its own little world sometimes with its own unique language. Now you can feel a little bit more informed when people start saying things like “my contracts outline is SO long I have no idea how I’m ever going to memorize it.”

Like this post? It was adapted from one I wrote for the Loyola Law school  “Jury of Peers” student blogs. Go check them out!

P.S. My law school helped a wrongly convicted man go free last week — read about that awesome story here.

Have any law school myths you need de-bunked? 

6 Responses to “law talk tuesday: law school lingo.”

  1. GiGi Eats Celebrities November 12, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

    My bestie went to Law School and now she is a law clerk. I remember her throwing around all this jargon and I would just smile and nod… OH yes, yes, I know exactly what you mean! Totally… BAHHH HA HA HA AH! Um no. I also know that this friend of mine… Didn’t even have to open a book and she would get straight As. Yes, she is one of those! BLAHHHH!

    • gillian November 13, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

      Hahaha yeah. I was annoying my first year dropping in all sorts of legalese into conversation. But then that gets old, and you realize how annoying you sound, haha!

  2. Whitney @ To Live & Diet in L.A. November 13, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    My bf is a lawyer and I’ve heard some epic stories of his bar review days. Funny I used to think that meant studying!

    • gillian November 13, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

      Hahaha LOVE that!!

      On Wed, Nov 13, 2013 at 2:09 PM, That's G

  3. whitney November 19, 2013 at 6:25 am #

    i just found your blog via your comment on mine. so excited to read!! 🙂

    • gillian November 19, 2013 at 8:13 am #

      Thanks!! that’s so awesome — I seriously loved that post about 10 things I can tell you about your husband!

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