How to Choose the Best Law School Study Aids
What are Law School Study Aids and Outlines?
In most law school classes, you can expect 20 or more pages of reading for each class and it doesn't all make sense. So most students need a little help to understand the material and study for exams. Many law students choose to supplement their reading with study guides. And, quite honestly, by the end of the semester many law students replace their reading with these aids. So how do you choose the best ones for you?
Everyone has a different favorite set of study guides. It depends largely on what type of learner you are and what materials will be the most useful for your class. If your professor has a particular commercial outline or legal study aid that he recommends, check that out first. However, there are several major guides that you will find at most law schools. Emanuel Outlines, Law in a Flash, and Crunchtime are a few of those popular titles.
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Find a study aid keyed to your textbook
Emanuel Law Outlines are one of the most comprehensive law school study aids available and are the most useful when you work with them throughout the course of the semester. There is so much information in each book that they are a little too much for last-minute cramming before exams!
Each study guide contains a capsule summary of the subject, a longer outline detailing each section, and practice exam questions with model answers. If you are working with the Emanuel Law Outline early, take the practice questions and then compare your answers to the model to give yourself more preparation for the test.
When to use Emanuel's Outlines?
Do a quick search and see if there is an edition available that is specifically keyed to your textbook. This means that the outline will follow the exact subjects that your homework did, and it will cover the same cases. I had trouble understanding everything in my Trusts & Estates class, but there was an Emanuel Outline designed for the edition of our casebook that we were using. I read the outline before I did my homework every week and things started making so much more sense.
(And I passed the class with a great grade, so I'm especially happy with that guide!)
Find the Emanuel Law Outline for Your Class
Law in a Flash Law School Study Aids
Law in a Flash provides what the title promises - flash cards so you can quiz yourself on the black letter law in a wide range of subjects. Each set contains hundreds (typically 600 to 700) of flash cards. The first year subjects are all covered, and you can even purchase a set containing them all. There are also plenty of sets designed for 2Ls and 3Ls, including important subjects like Professional Responsibility, Evidence, and Con Law II.
While multiple choice law school exams are rare, you probably will encounter some of them. Law in a Flash is particularly helpful for those types of subjects because it is so focused on the black letter law. The cards aren't issue-spotters.
When to Use Law in a Flash?
Flash cards are especially useful for code classes, where you are required to do a lot of memorization from a particular group of laws. Professional responsibility (or legal ethics) is one code class that every law student will have to deal with. Flash cards are a great solution for passing your exam or preparing for the MPRE. Flash cards are also a great way to memorize the hearsay exceptions before taking your Evidence final.
Law in a Flash is also the best study aid for law students who like to work in groups. After all, they are the most interactive. You can take turns quizzing the other members of your study group and going over the correct answers.
Find Law in a Flash Cards Now
CrunchTime is created by the same people that produce the Emanuel Law Outlines, only they are a shorter and more digestable format. The summaries on each point of law are specifically written with law school exams in mind. This series isn't trying to teach you everything about the black letter law, but only help you synthesize the semester and get through finals.
The CrunchTime guides are my favorite because they typically contain a section of flowcharts at the beginning of each book. Many subjects in law school can be explained with a good flowchart! For my learning style, having a more visual explanation of the issue makes things much more clear.
When to use the CrunchTime series?
If your time is running too short to read through an entire law outline, consider the Emanuel CrunchTime book. These are perfect for law exam preparation. There is still enough information on each subject to get you through the test. They can also be convenient for the budget because you may be able to study for multiple exams from one book. I picked up CrunchTime: Intellectual Property, which covered material from my patents, trademarks, and copyrights classes.
Also consider them if you are like me and love a good flowchart!
Many CrunchTime Study Guides are Cheaper than Emanuels
Examples & Explanations
If you hear law students referring to the "E&E," they are talking about the Examples & Explanatios line of study guides. When I was a 1L, the E&E was most often used to study for the Property exam. With such a massive, complicated subect, finding the best law school study aid was an important part of getting a good grade.
Like with the other study guides, the title sums up what you will find in the book (law students can be a pretty literal bunch). Examples & Explanations will cover each area of a subject in detail, explaining the black letter law and providing key definitions, and then give examples and practice questions for you to work through to improve your comprehension.
When to Use E&Es?
The Examples & Explanations are pretty hefty books. While you can use them at the last minute, they are more like the Emanuel Law Outlines in that they are a study aid meant to be used throughout the semester.
Find an E&E on Amazon
Study Aids on eBay
Keep your eyes on eBay for good deals on the best law school study aids. If you can, try to plan ahead of time. There is more competition at the beginning of the semester and around finals, so you may not be able to score as great of a price.