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Creating a Course Outline Jeffrey Minneti Associate Professor of Legal Skills and Director of Academic Success Stetson University College of Law

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Presentation on theme: "Creating a Course Outline Jeffrey Minneti Associate Professor of Legal Skills and Director of Academic Success Stetson University College of Law"— Presentation transcript:

1 Creating a Course Outline Jeffrey Minneti Associate Professor of Legal Skills and Director of Academic Success Stetson University College of Law

2 Presentation Objectives Explain the purpose of a course outline Discuss the content of a course outline Suggest a process for creating a course outline Suggest forms for course outlines

3 Course Outline Purposes Learning theory perspective Building schema Creating a tool to facilitate problem solving Pragmatic perspective Structure major premise of syllogism Consolidate information in one place Capture the structure of the law Macro level Micro level Template for memorization of law

4 Course Outline Content Vocabulary Concepts Rules Policy Examples and non examples of law in factual contexts

5 Course Outline Content Vocabulary Latin phrases Stare decisis In rem Mens Rea Language of the law Remand Appellee Cause of action Service of process

6 Course Outline Content Concepts Ideas Contract formation Terms of art Meeting of the minds Offer Acceptance Consideration Promissory Estoppel

7 Course Outline Content Rules Sources Primary Constitution Statutes Court decisions Administrative Regulation Secondary Restatements Treatis/hornbook

8 Course Outline Content Synthesized Rules Types If, then Elements Disjunctive Factors General Rule + Exceptions Hybrid

9 Course Outline Content If, then rule If you capture or mortally wound a wild animal on public lands, you have a property right in the wild animal. If you engage in an act, knowing with substantial certainty the consequences of the act, for the purpose of tort liability, you have acted with intent.

10 Content of Course Outline Elements Law broken into discrete units each has its own test or definition each must be proven for the rule to apply Example An actor batters another when he intends to cause harmful or offensive contact with the person of another and such contact actually occurs Elements Intent Causation Harm or offense Another person Actual contact

11 Course Outline Content Elements Example Contract formation Offer Acceptance Consideration

12 Course Outline Content Disjunctive rules Battery includes harmful OR offensive contact Damages for breach of contract may include money damages OR specific performance Delivery of a gift can be actual OR constructive

13 Course Outline Content Factors Personal jurisdiction analysis Several layers to the test Minimum contacts Purposefully direct actions to forum? Product placed in stream of commerce? Business relationship with forum state business? If internet contact, how interactive is the web business with the forum state? Reasonableness Burden on the defendant Burden on the plaintiff Interest of the forum state

14 Course Outline Content General Rule + Exceptions Murder is the unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought, unless, the actor acted in self defense

15 Course Outline Content Hybrid rules Contract formation Subject Matter Jurisdiction

16 Course Outline Content Review rule structures: If, then Elements Disjunctive Factors General Rule + Exceptions Hybrid

17 Course Outline Content Policy The ideas that animate the law, give it purpose, guide its evolution Judicial process Firm v. flexible rules Slippery slope Flood of litigation Normative Freedom of contract Individual v. Altruism Economic Cost-benefit analysis

18 Example of Policy Adverse possession forces real property owners to pay attention to uses of their property and benefits those who put real property to productive use.

19 Course Outline Content Examples and non-examples of rules in factual context Cases (including note cases) Holding Rule + dispositive facts Hypotheticals that professors present in class

20 Course Outline Process Starting point Utilize your case books table of contents and/or course syllabus as templates for the major topics covered during the class Next Step For each topic, pool together pre-class notes, during class notes, post class notes, and readings from supplemental sources Final Step For each topic, synthesize rule structures

21 Starting Point: Table of Contents and/or Syllabus If your professor proceeds sequentially through the case book, utilize the case books table of contents to structure your outline If your professor jumps around sections of the case book, utilize the professors syllabus to structure your outline

22 Next step: Pool information For each topic, pre-class, gather information from assigned and supplemental reading relevant to the topic you are studying For each topic, during class, edit and add to the information you gathered pre-class For each topic, post class, review the information gathered pre and during class: Identify patterns and structures in the information Identify gaps in the information List questions about the information and create a plan for addressing them

23 Final Step: Synthesize Rule Structures Generally legal synthesis requires inductive thought Discern rule structures from a number of sources, each of which individually reveals only a portion of the rules structure Inductive thinking derives general principles from specific cases and materials covered in case book and in class

24 Course Outline Process Suggestions to improve your inductive thinking about cases Know the purpose for reading the case Reduce the case to 1-2 sentences that explain the law of the case in light of the facts and the purpose Gather the 1-2 sentences from the cases together and make a cumulative list of the legal principles and policies related to the purpose for which you read the case Discern form, structure, hierarchy among the principles and policies

25 Final Step: Synthesize Rule Structures On occasion, information is delivered in a structured form Need only record the structure of the rules, noting their development from general idea to more specific

26 Course Outline Forms Traditional outline Concept map Timeline Comparison chart Comparison diagram Flow chart

27 Review Presentation Objectives Explain the purpose of a course outline Discuss the content of a course outline Suggest a process for creating a course outline Suggest forms for course outlines


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