The Law School Binder System: UPDATED

My most poplar post ever, what inspired me to write this blog, has received an update! I initially created the binder system while taking classes at a law school during undergrad.  However, I was only taking one class at a time, and the curriculum was slightly easier, so I have tweaked my system to work a little better. Hopefully my study system helps as much as it helps me!
  • I still read every day and never skipped a reading. However, I got a week ahead in the readings at the beginning of the semester. Some people advise against this, but I was finished with my class readings a week early, which I meant I had a huge jumpstart on finals.


  • I still read each case without taking notes, then highlighting on a second read, then a third read to write my brief, and then adding a sticky note with the issue and holding. However, when we went over the case in class, anything my professor mentioned that was either (A) important and I had left out or (B) wrong, I added to my brief in red ink.
    • Note: I also never made reading notes. I didn’t feel like I had a very deep understanding of the material until after class. Also, class emphasized what the professor thought was important, which meant it was more likely to be on the final, whereas my notes were just what I thought was interesting/important.


  • I still made my outlines throughout the semester. However, at the end of the semester I made a condensed outline based on my larger topic specific outlines. (This was not the same as an attack outline)


  • I still made use of my binders. I printed every brief and filed them in order. At the beginning of every section I put in my topic specific outline and any flowcharts/ extra notes I wanted to add. Then I tabbed it by section. At the beginning of my binder I had: a table of contents, a condensed outline, a rules sheet, and a case list.
    • Note: not 100% sure what the point of printing out my briefs is. I love having everything printed out and organized but the briefs serve little purpose.
    • UPDATE: Having all my briefs came in handy twice. It wasn’t a huge part of either exam, but it was a nice safety blanket.


  • I personally didn’t make an attack outline because all of my classes were open note and I had unlimited pages. I made a good table of contents to find the material I wanted. Even though I was able to take my entire binder into the final at ASU, I mainly used a condensed outline and my rules list.


  • Something I didn’t do the first time, but wish I had, was make a rules list. Some people call these “canned answers”. Basically, it was a list, separate from my outline, that contained the rule for each topic in my own language. For essay exams I would copy this down quickly, which saved me a lot of time. It also was a really good way to teach myself rules.


  • Another thing new I tried was a case list. This seems silly, but it was super helpful when I had a professor that required me to cite in my essay. It had every case in order of when we learned it and a concise rule for that case.


  • The last new thing I tried was making flow charts. I didn’t have too many of these, but for some issues where there is really heavy analysis, walking through the flow  was really helpful. For example, I had flowcharts to walk through all the points of Eerie or the elements of an intentional tort.


Hope these study tips help you! You may want to check out my previous post because I think I explained some of those steps in a little more detail. Please reach out to me if you have any questions about particular things I did to study! (Note: this does not include what I did specifically to study for finals, but that post is coming soon!) Thanks y’all!

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