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OT: note-taking tools for law school

Hi everyone,

I'm sorry for taking things slightly off-topic, but I'm hoping that this
group of folks might have some pertinent advice.

I've just started law school (in the midst of week two) and I'm looking
for a better way to take and organize both class notes and case briefs.
I've been using openoffice writer so far, but I'm not very confident
that managing disparate odt files is going to serve me well when finals
crunch-time rolls around.

My primary goal is to facilitate a birds-eye, interconnected view of all
the case law I've read and analyzed over the course of the semester,
without tracking hundreds of odt files.  For example, it would be nice
to be able to pull out just the holdings/rules from all of my briefs
that relate to the consideration doctrine in contracts, without the
distraction of extraneous details, which are needed for class.  A
secondary (and somewhat less important) goal is the ability to
cross-reference class discussion notes with relevant briefs.  I suppose
an XML-based or RDBMS-backed solution could help in this regard.

Other nice-to-have features I've considered: a non-distracting and
simple interface (OOo is horrible in this regard), revision control (svn
compatibility at least), offline accessibility (with online backup),
indexing/search, tagging.

I've seen a couple of instances of docbook briefs and notes online, but
I'm not sure if docbook is sufficient for my needs.  It would certainly
meet some of my goals better than OOo, but I don't really want to be
distracted by markup while I'm trying to brief a case or take notes in
class.  Maybe a good docbook WYSIWYG editor?

So, for any of you who are recent law school grads or students, how
would you keep track of your notes and briefs in a way that allows for
detailed class preparation and easy studying at the end of the

Any ideas?  Should I just suck it up and use a word processor like all
of my classmates?  Is there some hidden magic I can do to leverage open
document's XML format to meet my goals?  Or should I resort to Vim or

I'd love to hear some open source law school success stories!



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