I have good news and bad news for all you law students out there. The good news is you still have about 1/3 of your summer break left. The bad news is that means Georgia State College of Law classes start in about a month, with our new students starting orientation August 8 and our returning students beginning classes on August 15. I know, it went by quickly for me too.
So, for this post I wanted to talk about some resources from the library that can help you do better in your law school classes. I know what you’re thinking. “Won’t all of the library resources help me do better in law school?” Short answer: maybe. While I’m sure everyone will need to find a section in the O.C.G.A. or U.S. Code, locating regulations from before the days of the C.F.R probably won’t mean a whole lot. What I’m talking about are resources that will actually help you “do” law school.
Law students often struggle because they do not understand the expectations of their work, their answers, or themselves. What should you be getting out of the cases you read? How do legal rules work together? What does a good law school exam answer look like? What’s the deal with these weird exam hypotheticals and is there a better way to approach them? Luckily, there are a number of books that answer these types of questions. Many students spend so much time making outlines and memorizing that they don’t ever think strategically about how they study and learn the law. Do yourself a favor and take an hour to skim some of these books. At the very least, they will give you some useful suggestions and at most change the way you approach your legal education.
Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams by Jeremy R. Paul and Richard Michael Fischl
Professors Fischl and Paul explain law school exams in ways no one has before, all with an eye toward improving the reader’s performance. The book begins by describing the difference between educational cultures that praise students for ‘right answers,’ and the law school culture that rewards nuanced analysis of ambiguous situations in which more than one approach may be correct. Enormous care is devoted to explaining precisely how and why legal analysis frequently produces such perplexing situations
The ability to read law well is a critical, indispensable skill that can make or break the academic career of any aspiring lawyer. Fortunately, the ability to read law well (quickly and accurately) is a skill that can be acquired through knowledge and practice. The sooner the student masters these skills, the greater the rewards. Using seven specific reading strategies, reinforced with hands-on exercises at the end of each chapter, this book shows students how they can read law efficiently, effectively, powerfully, and confidently.
Cracking the Case Method: Legal Analysis for Law School Success by Paul Bergman
Cracking the Case Method is a concise and down-to-earth guide to the intellectual content of law school instruction, particularly in the first year. Readers will discover why and how law school instructors use appellate court cases as vehicles for teaching legal analysis. This book explains that legal analysis is a process by which judges and lawyers use argument (or rhetoric) to connect stories to legal conclusions, and reveals how to read judges’ appellate court opinions as arguments rather than merely as sources of rules. To succeed in law school, students have to apply analytical skills to novel stories by crafting arguments of their own, both in class meetings and when answering final examination essay questions. This book promotes readers’ ability to apply analytical skills by: Demonstrating how to “brief” cases in a way that captures both arguments and rules; Explaining and illustrating common types of arguments; Using actual law school classroom dialogues annotated by the authors to explain how instructors use classes to further law schools’ goal of teaching argument skills.