February 17, 2017

The Law School Binder System

how to use a binder system to study in law school | brazenandbrunette.com

Today I'm back with another guest post! I'm especially excited for this one because its actually by my DG little (yes obviously I had to find the pre-law girl lol). I've been bugging her to guest post on here ever since I found out that she was going to be taking a law class and I'm glad she finally caved! If you have a great law school experience you'd like to share, use the contact form (on the bottom right) and let me know!

A little about today's writer Jordin from Petite Thoughts

School: Texas Tech University (Junior)
Major: Public Relations

This is the system I developed (or claim to) for my first ever law school class. I personally believe this to be the most fool-proof way to do well in any law class.
To preface, the Texas Tech Honors College allows their undergraduate students to either enroll in an early acceptance program to Tech Law or allows juniors and seniors to take law classes pass/fail for upper-level seminar credit and the possibility to “test out” of law classes at Tech.
I can honestly say this was one of the most daunting experiences of my life. I took an actual law class (holler at me Torts Section 2) with an actual law prof, for actual law credit. Sitting in a room four days a week with a bunch of actual law students who are actually smart and a retired JAG attorney, made me want to have a nervous breakdown weekly. Also, as an MCOM major, I am not particularly used to classes with heavy reading or that rely on tests- most of my classes are essay and project based so this was a whole new challenge for me.
Even though I only had to make a D in this class, there was still a lot of pressure to do well. For starters, what if I was actually so stupid that I didn’t even make a D? And if I couldn’t do well at Tech, I probably wouldn’t do well anywhere. Honor’s professors talk and my prof was the interim dean, so if I applied some day, he’d probably remember I was an idiot.
I was honestly shooting for that C+ to not have to take Torts at Tech someday, and I would’ve been satisfied with that. However, I received one of the highest grades in that class, with one of the hardest professors, AS AN UNDERGRAD. While I will not disclose my actual grade, I received a glowing commendation from my professor. I can 100% guarantee that my success in this class (and domination of actual law students) was due to my system that I have outlined below:
  1. I started by reading every night, which got me ahead in the early weeks where my prof was going slow and I didn’t have a lot going on. Just keep doing the assigned reading- it’ll pay off.
  2. I read each case all the way through and did nothing
  3. Next, I go back and highlight with a color coded system and read the case notes along with the cases.
  4. Next, I added a sticky note to every case with the issue and conclusion. If your teacher cold calls, the highlight system with a sticky note will be pretty foolproof.
  5. Last, I go through and brief every case. (At this point I’ve read or skimmed each case about 4 times)
  6. Make your outlines as you cover each topic. Not only are your notes fresh, it is a good way to review before moving on to the next section. Also, if you want to wait to make your outlines in November… well good luck figuring that out.
  7. This last step seems excessive, but I found it EXTREMELY effective come finals time: take all of your briefs and your outlines and organize them in a binder as you go through the course. I had my outline, then all of the cases I briefed that related to the outline topic after for reference. Then I added tabs so I could navigate quickly from battery to negligence.
  8. Over Thanksgiving break I went through the binder and highlighted (again by a system) the important info and any cases that would be pertinent to reference on the final.
  9. After this, I flipped through the binders MAYBE twice a week and sort of forgot about Torts since it was pass/fail and I wanted an A in my other classes. By this time I legitimately knew the material, all I had to do was memorize my attack outline and I killed it.
(Side note: I highly recommend Evernote, it made it really easy to organize my notes)
I realize this seems like the most excessive 9-step plan to take a law class, but I barely studied for the final and made one of the highest grades… as an undergrad. I will admit, I probably had more time to read than most law students, but that being said even a modified version of this would probably get you close to where I did.
I’m not here to brag, I just wanted to share the system I thought worked the best for me and hopefully works for you too! If you have any questions, want my notes etc., want to talk about Tech law, or any thing else legal related, feel free to reach out to me!
let's be friends!


  1. What was the color system that you used?

    1. Hey! I don't remember the exact color system I used, but I don't think it really matters. In the front of my book on a blank page I made a "key" of what highlighter was for what and what pens I would use to annotate what material, and followed that. What matters is that you are 100% consistent in your notes, highlighting, binders, etc. Hope that helps!

    2. The color code I use for "briefing" cases via highlighter is: purple = facts/ procedural history; blue = rules (i'll write a note to indicate the starting rule and the new rule the opinion creates); yellow = parties (only if there's a lot and its hard to keep track of); orange = party's arguments (I write a P/D in margin to know who is arguing that point); green = analysis/reasoning/dicta; pink = ruling/ holding (sometimes in very lengthy opinions with multiple points I'll highlight the ruling of each issue, and the main holding at the end)