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We asked two attorneys and two law students the following question: “Why do law students joke about highlighters?” This question stems from the fact that many students rely on multiple highlighters of different colors in order to be organized when reading cases throughout their law school careers. We hope you enjoy their responses.
That’s a rather enigmatic tease for an article. I think the short answer is that for your first year, some law students grow connected to their highlighters. Some people work up a complex system where every color in the pack is used for a specific dimension of an opinion (blue for holding, green for dicta, etc.).
I remember one classmate who was really stressed out during 1L finals. He had all of his colors arranged in ROY G. BIV order on his table at the library. As I walked past him, I knocked them all over, which actually got him to smile for the first time in 2 weeks.
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I’m a rising 2L at the University of Maine at Orono, and I am very particular about my highlighters, as are many of my classmates. We often say “don’t mess with my highlighters,” which is only a partial joke, as we tend to take our highlighters very seriously. Many law students have a different color for each heading in their case briefs, so that after reading a case, they’ll be able to cross reference very quickly to draft their brief in order to prepare for class.
Additionally, highlighters are often the “swag” that law students receive from companies like Bloomberg, WestLaw, and LexisNexis, so we all tend to have a ridiculous amount of highlighters. (I probably have 50+).
I joke often because I end up with the color wheel on the sleeves of my jacket and my outlines look like I didn’t get enough practice during preschool art projects. Every color of the rainbow a person can think of that ends up being a mess often. They also tend to be totally gone by the end of one hour of study or lecture. A law student literally highlights their way through school. I probably won't want to see one when I am done LMAO!
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