Bricks on the Brain

UM Law

Friday, November 18, 2005

PAD and other UM Outline Nonsense

In the preamble to the ABA's Model Rules of Professional Responsiblility:

As a public citizen, a lawyer should seek improvement of the law, access to the legal system, the administration of justice and the quality of service rendered by the legal profession. As a member of a learned profession, a lawyer should cultivate knowledge of the law beyond its use for clients, employ that knowledge in reform of the law and work to strengthen legal education. In addition, a lawyer should further the public's understanding of and confidence in the rule of law and the justice system because legal institutions in a constitutional democracy depend on popular participation and support to maintain their authority. A lawyer should be mindful of deficiencies in the administration of justice and of the fact that the poor, and sometimes persons who are not poor, cannot afford adequate legal assistance. Therefore, all lawyers should devote professional time and resources and use civic influence to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all those who because of economic or social barriers cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel. A lawyer should aid the legal profession in pursuing these objectives and should help the bar regulate itself in the public interest.

I don't know what PAD charges for its outlines (the email we all received today is silent on price) and whether or not their outline bank is profitable. But it seems to me that charging anything more than a nominal fee for archiving outlines is not keeping within the spirit of a lawyer's ethical obligations. Other law schools have online outline banks (Harvard's being one of the best and open to the public) and charge no fees. I have noted in the past my distaste for organizations that horde outlines, and how doing so ought to be a violation of the honor code. (and here) Outlines should be a way of enhancing the sense of community among UM Law students, not as a way of profiting off of nervous 1L's or of protecting the ranked elites.

Although I personally do not create outlines, I freely share the ones I find with classmates. I do not accept outlines from others if they insist I share it with no one else.

Law school is competitive, and I suppose the moral code I propose should leave some room for the maker of an outline to keep it private up until the point he finishes a course. After that, he ought to give it away freely with no restrictions so that for better or worse he adds to the advancement of the legal profession. Under no circumstances should an organization, particularly the law reviews, exclude non-members from their outline banks.

To my knowledge, professors who write law review articles do not pay to get them published ("payola") and the law reviews certainly don't pay for contributed articles. So why don't law students hold themselves to similar ideals of intellectual community? Perhaps the more opportunist among us can answer this.


  • At 3:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "...profiting off of nervous 1L's or of protecting the ranked elites." - you hit it right on the nose. This is exactly what these outline banks are for.

    Noah has a great (free) one on his website:

    Sadly, I only found it midway through my second semester exams! For all the talk about hoarding outlines - honestly, I did it alot myself as a 1L. I made some outlines too, and only shared any of these things with my study group.

  • At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said… is under development. currently it mirrors the former porkandbeans site run by noah.


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