Do you ever ask yourself “Should I write or type my law school class notes?” As you may have guessed, there isn’t really a “correct” answer to this question. But as a law student your notes are incredibly important, so it’s worthwhile to think about this. Here are some pros of and cons of each.
Should I Write or Type my Law School Class Notes?
Pros of Writing Notes
1. You likely won’t write down every word your professor says. Believe it or not, this is a good thing! Note taking is hard. But if you can’t transcribe the lecture, you will be forced to think about the important concepts worth writing down. This is in opposition to how some students feel when they type. They feel like they are being stenographers rather than actually thinking!
2. You will likely be more engaged. Many professors do not allow students to use computers in their classroom, claiming that their students are too distracted. If you don’t have your computer, you won’t be distracted with social media, online shopping, or other sources. It is much easier to pay attention when the temptation to do something else isn’t right in front of your face!
Cons of Writing Notes
1. It may be harder to stay organized. You might find that you have hand written notes from assignments, class and lecture handouts. It might be harder to keep track of what is what!
2. You might still want to type your outline. Consequently, you may end up doing more work retyping your notes. (However, this can be an advantage too as it is not a good idea to simply type your class notes into an outline. So, the advantage of this can be that it leads to a better, more concise, and organized outline.)
3. You may find that you can’t read your own writing, especially if you are writing quickly. There is nothing worse than not understanding notes you spent hours taking!
Pros of Typing Notes
1. Staying organized should be easy, since there are a lot of programs available that allow you to keep all of your notes and outlines organized without trying.
2. You have the ability to take down more information quickly. This can be very helpful if you are trying to record hypotheticals or the lecture is on a topic that you don’t understand. Rather than trying to remember every detail of what the professor said, you will have it right in front of you!
3. Turning your class notes into an outline is easier since you have all of the information you need in one place. Rather than trying to string several days worth of notes together, you will have them all in one place.
Cons of Typing Notes
1. You may not be as engaged in class. Many students think typing their notes allows them to pay more attention to class. However, your laptop can easily cause you to get caught up in chatting with friends or surfing the internet.
2. You might skip the “thinking” step. You may, for example, find that you simply type every word your professor says without really thinking about the material. This can create more work for you when you go to review. It also might cause you to skip the thinking step completely! Hence, some professors ban it completely – they don’t want all if their students to just be stenographers!
If you are on the fence about the best approach for you—give both a try for a few classes and see how you fare!