A primer on outlines, maps and canns

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An outline, map or cann are different names for what is essentially the same thing. Each is meant to be a condensed and potent dissemination of all of the relevant case law that students are instructed to read each week. Often the IRAC (Issues, Ratio Decidendi, Application, Conclusion) method will be used to break down a case. This means that when you read a case, you determine what the relevant issue is in the case, which rule of law the judicial decision is based on, how that rule was applied to the facts of the case, and the conclusion that can be drawn from that application. Becoming proficient at this skill will help you when it comes time to prepare for exams. Whether you create these is up to you, but I highly recommend that you begin creating them as soon as you are assigned cases to read. You should create your own, but should reference others from previous years to ensure you are on the right track. Some schools offer outline banks, or upper year students may share their outlines with you. BLSA Canada has a bank of outlines that you can reference to help you determine if you are on the right track with a case. You can access BLSA’s outline repository on our website. The outline bank is a great resource. Remember that there is a lot of value in reading cases yourself, but start with looking at the notes and outlines of upper year students. Creating your own outline is a great way to familiarize yourself with the law and to develop the ability to determine what is relevant and what is not. A skill that will be invaluable in law school and in your legal career.   Shequille Rollocks, National Director of Advocacy
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