Sunday, January 18, 2015

Law School Supplements

So I had read about a billion books about law school before starting and I knew there were these things called supplements that every law student in the history of law students raved about. I am about to be the next one. THESE BOOKS ARE AMAZING AND YOU NEED THEM AND YOU WANT THEM AND YOU'RE GOING TO GO GET THEM!!!!! 

Seriously, I am sure there are very good reasons as to why law school is set up the way it is, but the end result is that you get to the end of the semester and Holy Mother Of God, you know NOTHING. It must be dark magic because I read every page assigned, took notes, went to class, took notes again, reviewed my notes at the end of every week and outlined. So I should have known quite a bit. Only what they teach you in class is only slightly related to what will be on the exam. And the casebook is a gazillion pages of cases with only a few paragraphs here and there that actually explains the connections between the cases. Nobody wants to wade through all of that AGAIN. So we turn to supplements. Beautiful Beautiful Supplements.

Since my exams were mostly multiple choice and short answer, the series that were the most helpful were Examples and Explanations and Questions and Answers.

Examples and Explanations - Oh these are beautiful. They explain in depth, everything important and then give you questions to practice on. When I was going over my outline and felt I was missing something on a topic, I'd head to the E&E first. Multiple choice, short answer or typical essay exams, this is the first book I go to. Depending on the class, you can even buy an old edition for around four dollars on Ebay. For Contracts and Civil Procedure, it's not a good idea. They have both changed too much in the last decade. However, for Criminal Law and Property, go ahead and buy the four dollar version instead of the forty dollar one. And ask your librarians because more than likely they'll have a bunch as well. I preferred my own copy because my school doesn't allow you to take them home but it may work for others.

Question and Answers - An entire book of multiple choice, true/false and short answer questions. This book is fabulous for that moment where you pretty much have your outline down and you just really, really, really, don't want to study anymore but you have to because the exam is in two days. Put your outline down and start working your way through this book. It takes you from the whole memorizing concepts part of studying to the whole actually using them and putting them in practice part. Just don't freak out if you're getting 7 out of 15 right on a section and go read the answers to find out why! I went through the Q&A for each of my classes the two days leading up to the exam and it really helped. If you only have essay exams, I would still say to go through this book but maybe push it forward to about a week before the exam so you can do practice essay questions.

I used other supplements as well, but those two were the most helpful for the majority of my classes. My professors really push the Understanding series but most of the time, they were written by the casebook author and at least for me, were nothing more than a condensed version of my casebook. And there weren't really any practice questions to see if you really understood what was going on. So far, I really like the Acing Property supplement when I don't understand something in my casebook and my 3L mentor gave me the Gilbert Law Summaries but I haven't done more than flip through it yet. We will have to see how it goes this semester.

Final Thoughts - I personally do not think I would have done very well my first semester if I had not bought or used supplements. They teach a subject in basically the same way as an undergrad course. They introduce a new topic and then go deeper in depth until you understand it all. No hiding the ball here!



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