Law School Foundations III focuses on the legal synthesis. Legal synthesis is the process by which a legal rule is developed. This rule can be influenced by circumstances and events surrounding the case in question. Therefore, you should always use a legal synthesis when developing your notes for final exams. In other words, your synthesis is your law school outline.


This lecture is a continuation of Law School Foundations I and II and will continue to review Brown and Kessler. Using this, we are going to spend the time now learning how to outline.

An outline is a document that keeps all your case notes organized for you to use for law school exams.

Before you begin any class, you should review your reading notes and the lecture from the previous class because they always build on one another.

What is Synthesis?

Legal synthesis is the process used by lawyers to find collective meaning in cases. So, you want to use multiple cases to define the legal ruling. Many professors have different ways of asking for the rule of law. They could call it the rule, the test, the legal test, etc. but it all means the same thing.

Law School Exams

A law school exam does not comprise of short answer questions. They don’t ask for lists such as “list the elements of burglary.” Instead, you are given a hypothetical fact pattern. In your test you will use these facts to analyze if it meets the elements of burglary.

During your exam, you should create an argument for a defense and an argument as a plaintiff. Then you will create a conclusion, pointing to what you feel is correct.


Using context, including a timeline of general and legal history, may help you understand the reasoning why cases are ruled in a certain way.

For example, we had a ruling in Brown which was changed in Kessler. Then in 2010, Landon changed the definition of child. Finally, in 2012 legislature changed the rule back to 18 and younger.

Using an outline

The outline creates the complete history of the case. For instance, you would state that the rule was first adopted in Brown, then the current rule was written in Kessler. Finally, you would make any notes necessary for the development of the case. You will repeat this process for every legal principle.

IRAC – Using an outline to create a law answer

I – Issue

What legal questions are involved? You can interpret this broadly or keep it narrow.

R – Rule

The rule is the principle of which a case must follow. In other words, the rule is the law. Here you will want to state all elements of the rule and provide any legal definitions.

A – Analysis

Here is the “meat” of your argument. The analysis identifies which facts are meaningful. You will determine the “how” and the “why” of the rule. Meaning, “how does this rule apply?” or “why did we decide that this is the rule?”

C – Counterargument

You can only have a court case if there is a counterargument. Therefore, you will need to outline why both sides have a potential way of winning the case.

C – Conclusion

Tie it all up and tell the professor if you believe the requirement has been met. If so, conclude by stating which way the court would rule (win your opinion).

It can follow this format for each paragraph

  • The issue is…
  • The rule/element is…
  • Here we have…
  • Therefore,…
  • Next,…


I have three main takeaways from this lecture.

  1. Each legal principle is shaped by the synthesis of surrounding events and circumstances. You use this synthesis to develop your law school outlines.
  2. Your outline is vast, and is essential for law school success.
  3. Finally, when taking law school exams use IRAC, in paragraph form (meaning one full IRAC for each paragraph). This is so you can state what is important for each principle.

The content contained in this article may contain inaccuracies and is not intended to reflect the opinions, views, beliefs, or practices of any academic professor or publication. Instead, this content is a reflection on the author’s understanding of the law and legal practices.

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Categories: Orientation

Will Laursen

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