Remembering things for any test is hard, but keeping track of all the cases you’ll learn in torts is going to be one of the toughest tests of your memory you face in law school. How do you memorize torts cases in a way so that you don’t forget that key case come exam day? Because torts was my best subject 1L year, I wanted to share with you my strategy for getting a great grade. Here’s what I found to be the best way to memorize torts cases:
Step 1: Outline
You have to outline for every subject and torts is no exception… Do it using whatever strategy you’ve developed in your other courses. If you are clueless as to how to outline, use this book:
This books, like all law school preparation guides, recommends that you work yourself half to death. Even if you don’t follow it’s advice to the letter, it’s a great guide for essential exam strategies.
Outlining is useful (essential) because you marshal what you know about each case and topic on to paper in an organized fashion so you be able to order your answers come the exam. However, it probably most useful as a tool to help you memorizes. It’s not the final step, it’s the ground-work.
Step 2: Prepare A Case List
This is the critical step that I really think made a difference for me. Prepare a case list with the case name and just one or two shorts sentences about each case.
The key is to make sure that the short sentence contain only the important information that helps you remember what the case is about. Here’s an example for the case Foster v. Preston Mill Co., which is about Defendants blasting that was causing the mother minks at a nearby mink farm to freak out and eat their young. Plaintiff had notified defendants that blasting would have this effect, yet they continued anyway, thinking that the damage (minks eating their young) was so extraordinary they wouldn’t have to pay for it. Here’s the summary for the case list:
Foster v. Preston Mill Co: Minks. Defendant Pays for even very extraordinary damages caused if they are on notice that they will occur.
Why is it that short? That’s all I needed (and likely all you will need) to remember the details of that case. Really, just the key word “Minks” is going to bring that case rushing back to the front of your mind (unless you have two cases about minks eating their young, which I doubt you will).
Keep this case list with you when you take the exam and you won’t have to look hard to find cases even if you are forgetting the name at first. I suggest making key words like ‘Minks’ another color, probably red. To organize the list, group the cases by topic, such as per se, res ipsa, etc. (don’t worry, your professor will present the material in an organized fashion. You will know where cases belong).
While this case list strategy can be helpful in any class, it’s particularly important for torts class. There are just so many cases that it can get out of hand. Prepare the case list and read it over many times. You likely won’t have to look at it much on the exam, but having it there will make you feel comfortable knowing you can jog your memory on any case without flipping through your larger outline.