Strong outlines are an essential tool in law school. Being able to condense concepts into an effective outline is not only important to survival as a student, it is also paramount to conquering the bar exam. In this interview, we spoke with Chance Reynolds of Law-SchoolOutlines.com
Chance Reynolds, a Fort-Worth based attorney, is passionate about helping students achieve law school success. He’s put that into practice as a law tutor and founder of Law-Schooloutlines. Reynolds gave us some insight on why his program works and provided some great tips on how to come out on top in law school.
NE: Thank you so much for speaking with us today. Let’s jump right in. What is the most common misconception about getting through law school?
CR: It’s hard to say. I’ve talked with so many law students at this point that I think I’ve seen the full spectrum of mindsets. Many students go through a lot of unnecessary suffering because they think they have to. Will it be hard? Yes. Should you have to feel miserable and depressed? No.
I’m not the first to say it, but going through law school feels a bit like an initiation. Some things are harder than they have to be, but everything doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re struggling every single day to get everything done, you should step back and see if you’re working hard and smart, not just hard.
NE: Can you explain how your experience as a law student inspired you to create Law-Studentoutlines.com?
CR: I decided to start Law School Outlines during my first week of bar prep. Like a lot of students, I was scrambling to figure out some way to learn all of the material for the bar, and during my digging, I discovered all of these tools and methods for learning the bar material that I hadn’t fully thought to use during law school.
The bar exam moves so fast that most of the time is spent just trying to memorize rules and work practice questions. I thought that if I could tweak these principles and create some tools to help law students learn the rules a bit quicker, it would allow them to work way more practice exams during the semester. And the practice exams are really what make all the difference and take students to a new level.
That’s a bit long-winded, but the short answer is that my experience with the bar exam gave me perspective on some easy tweaks that I could have made during law school that would have saved me time and heartache.
NE: Where do you think most students go wrong in outlining for their law school courses?
CR: Oh yeah, this is a huge problem for students, and it’s completely unnecessary. The main benefit of the outline is that it provides a roadmap of the entire course. It shows the road you’ve traveled to get to the exam, and for essay exams, it provides a decent structure for how to format an answer. That’s it. There is no magical power to the outline.
If you are the type of student that likes to work with flash cards instead of outlines, I say skip the outline and do what you know how to do. A lot of students don’t like to have all of the course info in one long document because it’s discouraging. If that’s the case, I say skip it and break it down into smaller components like flash cards. Outlining is just a tool. There are plenty of other tools to choose from.
NE: How do study aids enhance the learning process?
CR: When you start law school, you’re thrown into the deep end of the pool before you know how to swim. On the first day of class, you’re expected to have read cases, briefed them, understood the analysis, and if you’re extremely unlucky, to actually do some public speaking about these things.
Having a good study aid is like having arm floaties. Like the kind babies wear in a swimming pool. They won’t help you become an Olympic swimmer, but a good study aid can keep you afloat so you survive to swim another day.
NE: How do your outlines differ from other products?
CR: Our outlines and tools are designed to keep students from falling behind. The nature of law school prevents students from even realizing that they are behind until it’s too late. They’ve read the cases, and maybe they’ve built an outline, but they haven’t learned the rules. That is a key step in filling out your exam analysis, and it’s the most common mistake that students make.
We’ve isolated the legal rules by specific legal issues so students can easily find the area they are working on in class and hopefully learn the rules before they even read the cases. Taking this approach allows students to start working hypos and practice exams much earlier in the semester.
NE: Besides outlines, are there any other recommendations you have for law student must-haves?
CR: I suggest that every law student has an Exam Prep Calendar and a Rule Notebook. The Exam Prep Calendar is just a way to create daily tasks that step you closer to your exam everyday. Case reading and briefing cannot go on this calendar. That’s classroom prep, and it is vital, but exam prep is something else completely.
Also, I suggest that every student creates a Rule Notebook. This is a notebook that has every legal rule that the student could not recall during a practice exam, or multiple-choice question. Create one for each subject and fill it with the rules from questions you’ve missed. It’s a simple task that highlights your weak areas and simultaneously gives you a tool to improve them.
NE: In addition to founding Law-Student Outlines, you are a practicing attorney and law tutor in TX. Can you tell us more about that?
CR: Absolutely. I’m currently launching a project to help educate entrepreneurs about the importance of incorporating their businesses, and how to make sure their assets are fully protected. One of the common questions I’ve gotten since becoming an attorney is, “Should I be filing something with the state for my business?” Yes. Yes, you should.
Working with law students is a deep passion of mine because I suffered from a lot of anxiety during the first year of law school, and I just bottled it all up. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to my professors, and I didn’t know where to turn to get an understanding of what I should be doing and how to do it. My goal is to help other students avoid this pain. Yes, I sell products and tools, but I also give away tons of stuff on the blog and podcast that I wish I would’ve known when I was struggling.
Law-schooloutlines.com is a way for me to reach way more law students than I could doing one-on-ones.
Thanks to Chance Reynolds, Esq. for giving this interview. For tons more great tips and resources
Chance Reynolds is an entrepreneur, attorney and law school tutor in Fort Worth, TX. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and find him on Twitter @bestlawoutlines.