Your note-taking should focus on the reasoning and insight gained in the class, instead of every detail that arises during class, especially unproductive details of the Socratic dialogue. Spend more of your time trying to understand where the professor is trying to take you, especially how it all fits into the big picture of the law.
In particular, you should understand where the assigned cases fit into the overall body of law. Like any good journalist, remember always to ask “Who, What, and Why?” Asking “why” is a particularly useful skill in law school and law practice. As you read each case, you should always ask questions such as:
- Why is this case important?
- Why are the parties before the court?
- What is the issue in dispute?
- Why did the court reach the conclusion it did?
- Is the case about the interpretation of a particular element of a rule?
- Is the case included to show how the common law has changed over time?
- Why did the professor assign this case? What was the point or points he was trying to illustrate?