Study Aid Spotlight- selections for the current 1L courses

Call it Study Aid Spotlight, tripartite edition. We’re going to take a look at not just one, but three study aids, specially chosen for the Fall 2021 1L courses.

As a 1L staring down your first finals, it pays to study up on studying. And while it’s great to have an entire publishing subcategory dedicated to aiding you in this process of studying for law school exams, it can result in a rather paralyzing proliferation of study aid options.

Fortunately, the library’s got your back. We’ve been toiling away to formulate this list of what are unquestionably the very best study aids for your fall courses, as determined by facts & logic.

Civil Procedure- Examples & Explanations

Choices don’t come easier than this. Not only does Professor Glannon (don’t worry: he’ll come up again) communicate the niceties of CivPro with clarity and wit, the example-based format keeps the focus squarely on the all-important skill of applying the law. We have an entire post extolling the virtues of this legendary study aid, so I’m not going to belabor this E&E’s exemplary qualities. Suffice it to say, this one’s a must-have.

Sum and Substance- Contracts (Audio)

More than the other 1L subjects, Contracts is starved for truly great study aids. There are plenty of solid hornbooks, but my usual application-focused standbys—E&Es and Glannon Guides—are a bit underwhelming when it comes to Contracts.

That helps Sum & Substance- Contracts stand out. Audio study aids like this one can improve your studying efficiency, since the format encourages multitasking. Here, Professor Brain does a good job of unpacking the major doctrines in a conversational style.

However, what really sets this apart from other audio study aids is the focus on applying the law. After discussing and summarizing each topic, Professor Brain includes a brief section on answering related questions on a law school exam, going over typical fact pattern and explaining how to analyze them.  

Torts- Examples & Explanations

Another Glannon classic! This one features the same mix of right-to-the-point explication and irreverent humor that made its CivPro counterpart so useful. Standout chapters include “That Odious Character: The Reasonable Person,” whose examples employ Falstaff, Dogberry, and other Shakespearean characters to memorably illustrate concepts like reasonable care and the Hand formula. I can’t recommend this one strongly enough.

Do you like these choices? Do you disagree with them? Which study aids are your top choices? Let us know in the comments!

Dear My 1L Self- this is going to change your life.

This week, we’ve got a very special “Dear My 1L Self.” You know, the classic series where Law Librarians, Upper-class Law Students, and other former 1Ls write actual, time-traveling letters to their 1L selves, giving them that priceless quality of advice that can only result from hindsight. Of course, our one true hope is that some of this advice will also helpful in the here and now, for current 1Ls. In today’s installment, we also get some fond nostalgic insights into everyone’s favorite law school from Leila Lawlor, Director of the Academic Success and LL.M. programs (and GSU J.D. holder)…

Dear 1L Leila, 


I have so much to tell you, but I will try to make this somewhat quick because I know you have a lot going on—fulltime job, family, and LAW SCHOOL AT NIGHT! I know you love it at the College of Law. It may seem kind of uncool to love law school, but it’s okay by me. Here’s a secret for you, 1L Leila. You are going to end up working at the COL someday!! It really is your happy place, isn’t it? 


So, 1L Leila, continue to work as hard as you feasibly can, but remember to keep life balanced! The hard work really will pay off. The COL is going to change your life. After law school graduation, you can quit your current job (the one that is not a great fit for you). You are going to be challenged intellectually in ways you can’t imagine. Here’s something that will blow you away: some of your professors will become LIFELONG friends! You didn’t see that one coming, did you? And here’s another piece of wonderful news: someday, when you work at the COL, some of your students will also become enduring friends, long past their graduation. 

So, 1L self, enjoy the 1L experience. Enjoy the classmates around you. See the picture below? Several of your classmates in that picture from 1993 will still be your best friends in the whole world 28 years later! That photo was taken in the old law school building (the COL will get a new building in 2015). You are in the middle of the photo, standing up, and yep, you are pregnant. I know you think you have a lot going on in your 1L year, but you have no idea how much you will have going on when that baby arrives in your 2L year. Trust me, 1L Leila, you will get through it. You will thrive because of support you have at the College of Law. You have my word. 

Note: There are NO laptop computers in the room! That’ll change soon. And the soft drink in the pink can (Tab) will soon be replaced with something called Diet Coke!


And here you are at your hooding in a couple of years, 1L Leila! See, you are going to make it through this!

Best wishes,

Leila

Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Bee .. Haunted House Disclosure Law!

For this Halloween season, the Blackacre Times is resurrecting this frightful classic from Professor Parsons…

The Blackacre Times

Copyright © 2015 Roger H. Goun. Available at http://www.virtualnexus.com/images/beetlejuicegroup2015small.jpg

Imagine this.  You’re a New York City real estate developer.  You just married your second wife, an interior designer, and are looking to get out of the big city and experience some country life.  Your real estate agent finds exactly the perfect house in Wind River, Connecticut (not a real place upon further inspection.) However, the current owners have no interest in selling.  Strangely the day after throwing your agent out of the house, the current owners drove off of a bridge and died.  You immediately swipe in and buy the Connecticut property, and move your daughter, wife, and wife’s interior designer friend Otho into the house.  Your wife immediately starts to remodel the home to give it a more modern esthetic, because, that’s what she does.

However, weird things start happening. One day while eating lunch, everyone present, as if…

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Study Aid Spotlight- Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams

Welcome to Study Aid Spotlight! This is a new, semi-regular series that will pop up at the Blackacre Times from time to time, especially as we near exam season. As the name suggests, each installment of Study Aid Spotlight will take an in-depth look at one particular study aid, discussing what it covers and why its useful. Go here if you want some study aid-related tips (alongside some choice iambs), or check out our Study Aid Finder for an easy entryway to the library’s collection. In this first installment of Study Aid Spotlight, Digital Services Librarian Gerard Fowke takes a closer look at Fischl & Paul’s classic Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams.

Here at the Blackacre Times, our ‘all-time’ most popular post is ’14 grad Hanish Patel’s convincing case for Glannon’s CivPro E&E as the ‘all-time’ #1 study aid. And it’s easy to see why the CivPro E&E might warrant such effusive praise: Professor Glannon’s masterful hypos force students to think critically about these storied doctrines, and his witty presentation makes this rather dry material quite memorable.

But I’m here to tell you that Richard Michael Fischl & Jeremy Paul’s Getting to Maybe 1 gives Glannon a run for its money.

Why? Well, it’s right there in the subtitle. ‘Law Schools Exams’ can seem awfully important, and G2M is all about ‘How to Excel ’ on these challenging and mysterious assessments. And unlike Glannon, which will only help in CivPro, G2M’s focus on exam-related skills will help you in all of your classes. Every. Single. One.

Notably, this helpfulness even encompasses those classes without a traditional law school exam. That’s because this study aid’s exam-oriented focus is really just the tip of the iceberg. Although its strategies will undoubtedly prove helpful when untangling an end-of-semester issue-spotter, that’s only because everything about law school revolves around G2M’s true topic: legal analysis.

For example, take Chapter 6, titled “Forks in the Facts.” Here, Fischl & Paul start by telling us they plan to look at a “variety of ways in which laws are structured by category” and explain the challenges of categorizing “a particular set of facts.” Then they proceed to do just that, with subchapters on oft-seen iterations of this analytical concept, such as “Rule vs. Exception,” “Categories as Elements of Legal Rules,” and “Facts on Both Sides.” For each, the authors illustrate their ideas with clear examples drawn from the casebook canon (some even involving everyone’s favorite fictional estate).

But this “categorical” habit of thought will only help you succeed on an exam because it’s an important aspect of legal analysis. And it has rarely (if ever) been given this straightforward of a treatment: the authors have cleared away the jurisprudential rabbit-holes and distilled the essence of “categorical reasoning about the law” into fewer than 20 pages.

In Maybe‘s remainder, they work similar wonders with kindred concepts like “Forks in the Law” and “Patterns of Ambiguity.” Students will walk away wishing they could stop thinking like a lawyer.

Of course, this approach means that Getting to Maybe is less of a reference work than something like the Glannon E&E. It’s not the study aid you’ll grab from the nightstand for that day-before-the-exam Erie refresher.  Instead, most students will want to read G2M once or twice (preferably before the exam ‘crunch’ begins), absorb its analytical framework, and move on. This quality alone probably makes it a perpetual underdog in the study aid “World Series.” Still, few books so effectively capture the essence of what law school seeks to impart and assess. The E&Es and Nutshells of the world would do well to watch out for the weird, scrappy study aid known as Getting to Maybe.

1 I couldn’t help but to completely and utterly geek out when I noticed that Professor Paul’s faculty profile mentions that a new edition of Getting to Maybe is expected for 2021. The first (and only) edition has been out for 22 years. UPDATE: According to Carolina Academic Press (by the way of the Jones School of Law Library’s Gigi Panagotacos) the new edition won’t be out until Fall 2022. Can I even wait that long?

Welcome Dean Reed

Dean LaVonda Reed is taking the helm at the College of Law.

Earlier this month, GSU Law welcomed aboard LaVonda Reed as our new dean. As the former Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs at Syracuse University, our new dean is an experienced leader and administrator. But did you know that Dean Reed is also an accomplished scholar?

One of Dean Reed’s research interests is Communications Law, especially as it relates to broadcast regulations. In Radio Regulation: The Effect of a Pro-Localism Agenda on Black Radio, she examines the effect of the FCC’s ownership regulations on radio stations serving the African-American community. Although Reed sees potential negative effects from deregulatory moves allowing for greater concentration of radio ownership, she simultaneously questions whether a pro-localism agenda limiting that concentration would, in and of itself, promote minority ownership. Instead, Reed argues that the FCC should explicitly pursue a goal of greater racial diversity in broadcast ownership alongside any such a pro-localism agenda, seeking “diversity in ownership, a diversity of sources, and ultimately, diversity in programming choices.”

Dean Reed has also written about the effect of FCC indecency regulations on political speech. In a 2010 article, she looked at the dilemma posed by “truly indecent” political advertisements, examining a potential conflict between statutes requiring broadcasters to give reasonable access to candidates for federal elective office and statutes prohibiting them from broadcasting indecent materials.

Another scholarly interest of Dean Reed’s relates to the regulation of clean energy. In Dirty Dishes, Dirty Laundry, and Windy Mills: A Framework for Regulation of Clean Energy Devices, she uses her familiarity with the telecommunications regulations to suggest that the FCC rule protecting a homeowner’s right to install satellite dishes might serve as a useful blueprint for a similar rule protecting the right to install solar panels, windmills, and other clean energy devices.

Here at the law library, we’re excited about Dean Reed’s leadership and scholarship. What about her deanship excites you? Would you like to see more blog posts discussing our faculty amazing’s scholarship? Let us know in the comments!

GSU Law Scholarship Achieves Records Downloads

All the scholarship in the world doesn’t mean a thing if no one reads it or knows about it. Our institutional repository is designed to help get the word out about the exciting and innovative work of GSU Law’s faculty.

To do that, we’ve collected nearly 10,000 works, many of them made even more accessible by the inclusion of full text. And these works do reach people all over, with readers from over 200 countries downloading them 1.1 million+ times since the repository’s inception in 2010. Our most popular publication is Professor Emeritus Paul S. Milich’s definitive overview of the 2011 overhaul of Georgia’s Evidence Code.

But this may change soon, with our repository recently attracting record-breaking traffic. For example, in March alone, we had over 33,000 downloads, almost double the previous record. During that month, Professor Todres’s Human Trafficking and Film: How Popular Portrayals Influence Law and Public Perception found an especially wide readership, with 268 downloads.

As you can see, the repository is growing in importance as a vehicle for promoting our faculty’s impressive scholarship within the broader public conversation while also ensuring that it remains easy to find and accessible. Have you used this valuable resource or its counterparts at other universities and law schools? If so, what did you think? Let us know in the comments!

Helpful Study Aids for Spring Courses

As finals approach, study aids are again in high demand. It’s easy to see why. Although study aids make a poor replacement for casebooks and other required materials, they can be a tremendously helpful tool for exam-prep purposes. They provide concise and highly organized reviews of topics covered in the typical law school course on the subject. The best ones also give students some valuable practice for their analytical skills. But with so many study aids out there, featuring differing formats and uses and often featuring very stark differences in quality, how can you know you’re choosing the best one?

Let’s try to answer this question while looking at a few of the best study aids for this semester’s 1L offerings. We’ll talk about what makes them worthy and how you might use them. This will also give us a nice opportunity to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the various study aid formats and series you’ll encounter.

Examples & Explanations for Property (online/physical)

The E&E series provides an accessible course overview while also foregrounding the important skill of legal analysis. It does this by structuring the entire discussion around the titular examples, a format that proves to be especially well-suited for explaining future estates and other similarly knotty concepts from Property Law. Indeed, this title’s analysis of these hypotheticals evokes the common law methods of legal analysis at the heart of this core doctrinal course. This helps to make the supplement truly feel like an extension of the classroom discussion.

The Glannon Guide to Civil Procedure (online/physical)

The author’s CivPro E&E (online/physical) is an absolute classic, but don’t sleep on this one either. Glannon Guides have a similar focus on analysis and application, but here it’s in the form of multiple-choice questions. After each one, Professor Glannon patiently explains the right (and wrong) answers in conversational prose that helps demystify this oft-convoluted area of law. The overall format works especially well for the more FRCP-driven aspects of Civil Procedure.

Principles of Contract Law (Concise Hornbook Series) (online/physical)

If you’re chiefly after a bird’s eye view of the course, there are many study aids designed with just that in mind. However, in my experience, NutshellsShort & Happy Guides, and the like don’t provide enough detail or nuance to be truly useful. They can help you learn basic concepts and doctrines quickly, but that’s about it.

The Concise Hornbook Series provides a nice (if less concise) alternative. Like other titles in the series, Principles of Contract Law provides an overview of the major course topics. However, it keeps many of the doctrinal subtleties intact. Believe me, those subtleties will come in quite handy when asked to apply those doctrines to a novel fact pattern on an exam.  

Sum & Substance: Criminal Law (online)

Audio study aids like the Sum & Substance series are a convenient resource for busy law students. It’s easy to multitask with these, to simply put them on in the background during a commute or while housekeeping, and efficiently absorb a tidy little overview of one of your law school courses.

Here, Professor Dressler endeavors to be your “tour guide” for Criminal Law, splitting the lectures into a series of audio tracks that are mostly quite short and easy to digest. His overall presentation is a bit dry but always very clear. This study aid is also a solid choice because it makes a great companion for Dressler’s well-regarded hornbook, Understanding Criminal Law (physical).

Summing It Up

My overall advice is to choose study aids that emphasize analysis and application, such as the E&E series and the Glannon Guides. This ensures that you’re practicing the skills that you will be tested on in your exams. Even if you end up opting for a hornbook-style overview, consider supplementing it with some CALI lessons since the included quizzes provide a nice opportunity to test your grasp on the material. There are high-quality lessons covering many of the topics taught in CivProContractsCriminal Law, and Property.

Thanks to your tech fee funds, Study Aids are more accessible than ever, with most of the major series available for use online through the Wolters Kluwer and West Academic platforms. These resources try to recreate the format and the feel of their print counterparts, making them a breeze to use.

What are your favorite study aids? What do you look for when you’re trying to choose one to prep for an exam? Let us know in the comments!

Racial Justice Resources Guide: Incorporating Race Into The Classroom

Law schools across the country have responded to the mass protests of the past year with renewed efforts to better integrate issues of race and racism into the law school curriculum.  To this end, the GSU College of Law Library has published Racial Justice Resources, a new research guide dedicated to furthering discussions of race in the law school classroom.

GSU Law’s Center for Access to Justice worked with the law library to create this valuable resource. It is meant to help law faculty incorporate race into their teaching, filling a major gap in legal education. As A2J Assistant Director Darcy Meals explained, “law faculty are often race-avoidant in teaching, despite the role race has played in the construction and maintenance of the legal system in the United States.” By placing materials that highlight this critical role at their fingertips, the guide encourages faculty to engage students in conversations about race across the law school curriculum.

So far, it appears to be succeeding in this endeavor. In a short period of time, Racial Justice Resources has become one of the law library’s most frequently used research guides. Law faculty across the country have also praised the guide. Writing for the Best Practices for Legal Education blog, Penn State Professor of Clinical Law Jill Engle called it “a true gem” and described how the guide introduced her to materials that facilitated the creation of a popular new course.  

The guide collects a wide range of resources that address race and legal pedagogy. They fit into two overarching categories, one focused on specific courses and the other on anti-racism materials with more general applicability. Within each category, the guide offers a curated list of teaching guides, podcasts, legal scholarship, and more.   And whether it’s a scholarly article that develops a pedagogical framework, an assessment tool that gauges implicit bias, or a seminal essay that shaped the zeitgeist, each resource was specifically chosen for its capacity to help law faculty incorporate issues of race and racism into their courses.

While the guide is primarily designed for law teachers, other audiences will also find that it contains much that is of interest. For some researchers, the guide’s practical orientation will complement other resources dedicated to specific schools, theories, and ideas. For law students, in particular, the materials could broaden their understanding of how race has shaped the legal doctrines they are learning, preparing them for their role in these important classroom conversations.

Productivity Tips for the Upcoming Academic Year

office-work-1149087_1920 Although studying from home has its advantages, it also presents its challenges. The potential lack of structure, combined with the absence of social reinforcement and the presence of myriad distractions, can exacerbate the already-acute anxieties associated with law school’s heavy workload. Learning how to efficiently manage that workload should be part of any strategy to mitigate that stress. If harnessing the power of your smartphone to get organized sounds appealing, you may want to try productivity apps (all of the ones described here come in free and paid versions, and are available for iOS and Android.)

The first app to check off your list is a to-do list. The purpose is easy to understand for anyone who’s ever composed a grocery list: it helps you organize your most immediate tasks for action. As you complete action items, you virtually “check” them off, and they disappear from your list, giving you a nice little rush of positive reinforcement. My go-to to-do is Todoist. Its intuitive interface makes it easy to create tasks, break them into subtasks, and of course, check them off. In addition, the combo of voice integration and natural-language processing allows you to speak your tasks into your phone as they occur to you, which is valuable when you inevitably recall a critical but heretofore forgotten task while knocking out your household chores.

Next, you’ll want a dedicated note-taking app for creating and organizing notes and materials that won’t fit into a list format, such as class notes. In this category, I’m a fan of Evernote. It has excellent optical character recognition, allowing you to, say, take a picture of that maddening Pennoyer v. Neff case, annotate it during your WebEx lecture, and then search it all by keyword later in the semester when you’re pulling all of that personal jurisdiction material together for your Civ Pro outline.

habitica screenshot

The final element in your productivity suite should be a habit tracker. Habit trackers, which are designed to directly incentivize your healthiest and most productive behaviors, really help to keep you on track in a world full of distractions and diversions. For its considerable fun factor, I like Habitica here, which gamifies your habitual behaviors and presents them as a SNES-style RPG. So, yeah, you can totally earn experience points, find some sweet magical armor, and slay dragons just by washing your dishes, wrapping up those Con Law readings, and getting your steps in.  It also allows you to create even more accountability by questing with your real-life friends (while maintaining social distance) in a party of habit-forming adventurers.

Are there any other productivity apps you find to be especially helpful in organizing your law-school life at home? Let us know in the comments.

True Crime at the Law Library

Looking for a frightful distraction from the stress of law school? Perhaps you should investigate the law library’s true crime collection, currently on display. But don’t forget to think critically about the power of these depictions to shape perceptions of the law.

For the increasing numbers of readers, viewers, and listeners who have fallen victim to the thrills of true crime, the genre is an important source of exposure to criminal justice. So it’s no surprise that many scholars have explored the relationship between the consumption of true crime media, fear of crime, and attitudes towards the legal system.

Some have bemoaned the purported link between the public demand for punitive criminal laws in the late 80s/early 90s and the increased popularity of true crime books. More recently, however, commentators are encouraged by the genre’s capacity for informing the public about our system’s shortcomings (such as the prevalence of wrongful convictions), but wary of risks that that same informative quality could also misinform the public. But those risks might be overstated: when it comes to legal concepts like the insanity defense, true crime addicts are no less informed than the general public.

Others have focused on the genre’s effects on the fear of crime. Compared to viewers of fictional crime dramas, true crime viewers are more fearful of crime, and that fear even appears to undermine their confidence in the criminal justice system. That lack of confidence might even mean that true crime viewers are more likely to acquit criminal defendants. And these effects can vary depending on viewers’ race and ethnicity, perhaps due to the genre’s overrepresentation of white female victims.

As an important actor within the legal system, these intriguing findings should give you something to ponder as you probe our ref-section ‘crime scene’ (pictured). Our display includes some of the genre’s most notorious works, while also highlighting accounts of crimes that occurred here in Georgia, such as the infamous Atlanta Child Murders (depicted in the most recent season of Netflix’s Mindhunter). Check them out!