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Welcome, folks, to another exciting edition of #DearFindLaw Fridays. Today's topic? Attack outlines.
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My dear brother, a 1L at Louisiana State University, has a professor that keeps mentioning attack outlines. He wants to know: What are they and should he be making one?
For the next few months, you'll be working on your main outline -- the big, rambling review of everything you learned this semester. However, a 58-page list of notes isn't going to help you actually answer test questions (at least, not efficiently). An attack outline will.
An attack outline is a condensed version of your outline -- one or two pages -- that acts as a sort of checklist or decision tree on issues that you'll need to consider on an exam. For example, in a contracts hypo, you'll want to consider (amongst other things -- it's been awhile since I've taken a Contracts final):
You get the point. You can go bullet-style, checklist-style, or create a decision tree -- whatever works for you.
When to Make Attack Outlines
Worrying about an attack outline now is like worrying about whom the Kansas City Royals will start in the playoffs: There are three weeks left and the Royals only have a half-game lead on the Tigers after blowing it against the moribund Red Sox last night -- it's far too soon to even be thinking about playoffs. And it's far too soon to be thinking about attack outlines.
However, you don't want to wait too long. Creating an attack outline early, perhaps with a month left before exams, will give you time to take practice exams with the attack outline, then wean yourself off of it (assuming your exam is closed book). By the time you take your exams, the "checklist" of issues will be second nature.