Study Aid Spotlight- Constitutional Law: Principles and Policies (Chemerinsky)

by Meri Elkin

In this second-ever Study Aid Spotlight, 3LP Meri Elkin takes a look at Erwin Chemerinsky’s celebrated Con Law hornbook.

Hanish Patel boasts that the #1 study aid of all time is CivPro E&E, and it very well may be … if you are a 1L. But tell me 2L’s and 3L’s, how frequently are you picking up CivPro supplements these days? And although Prof. Fowke recently made a case for Getting to Maybe—a study aid focused on exam skills rather than any one subject area—he was too quick to dismiss the the depth and versatility that comes with taking a single-subject focus.

So, I am here to make my case that the all-time best study aid is actually Erwin Chemerinsky’s Constitutional Law: Principles and Policies. Beyond Con Law I and II, there are so many electives that touch on constitutional law. So. Many. Electives.

Don’t let the size of this 1,439-page supplement scare you. With a table of contents and a case index, this study aid is easy to navigate. More than that, it breaks down constitutional law into twelve chapters and easily digestible subsections.

For example, §5.3 tackles the Dormant Commerce Clause in 36 pages, starting with a brief definition, and then covering everything from policy justifications to an in-depth analysis of the modern approach to exceptions. Throughout, the author guides us along with incredibly useful headers, making it easy to get to the relevant sections for your classes.

Professor Chemerinsky’s goal was to write “the most thorough” 1,400-page constitutional law supplement possible. Although it does not cover the entirety of constitutional law, this amazing study aid provides some essential clarity for most of the topics students will encounter in their courses. And it’s these clear explanations that will ultimately keep students coming back, class after class.

For a panoply of study aid-related pro-tips (w/ a side of well-crafted verse), check out this classic post. And if you need to efficiently locate the perfect study aid in the perfect format, the library’s got you covered.

Dear My 1L Self- Shheeeeeesh

Hello, reader. You’ve happened upon “Dear My 1L Self.” Have you heard of this epic library blog series? Wherein law librarians, 2Ls/3Ls, and other intriguing interlocutors engage in anachronistic correspondence w/ their 1L selves? Wherein said correspondence dispenses sage advice that readers would do well to take under advisement? In today’s wise & witty epistle, Reference GRA Colin Daniels addresses his 1L self…

Dear 1L Colin,

I’ve got good news and sad news from the future. First the bad. By your 2L year, law school professors acquire technology that enables them to target a live cold call at any student anywhere on earth—Zoom. On the bright side, I can help you get by as a 1L.

Let’s start with suggestions. The Library’s VIP study rooms have outlets and beautiful marble-white whiteboard walls. Fill a study room with reliable people who keep motivate each other. Take notes and stick to a consistent study plan. There’s a lot of information to track over a semester. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Because law school is a marathon, you need to remember you’re a human being with physical limitations. Go through the syllabi at the beginning of the year and stick deadlines into a calendar. Then schedule time well in advance of due dates to work on projects. While you can spend a forty-eight hour period furiously writing a 1L foundations paper, you never want to turn in the first draft of anything you’ve written.

More importantly, you’re going to miss a lot of mistakes if you’re sleep deprived. Just schedule your time instead so you can make slow and steady progress on assignments. Your body and your GPA will thank you.

You’re going to make mistakes. Your biggest is not writing practice exams. Yes, they’re exhausting when many things demand your time. Don’t wait to start writing practice exams until you have a perfect outline (because it’ll never be perfect). Ultimately, 1L Colin, because you don’t take any practice contracts exams, your final exam reads like the next paragraph.

Buy a printer. Take half-days on Friday. Meet other students. It’s not a competition. Watch trashy reality TV occasionally (or frequently). Learn about bird law. Go meet a professor during office hours. Use a watch and a calendar. Get a free lunch (and learn something) at meetings and events. Take a mindfulness seminar. Read the career services emails. Borrow whiteboard markers from the library. Look into GRA positions for experience and a tuition discount. Interviewers care about personality, so don’t forget about the hobbies and interests that make you an interesting person.

Good luck, and don’t worry too much. You can always try for Tik Tok fame.

Shheeeeeesh,

3L Colin

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?

Dear My 1L Self- You Are in the Right Place

The GSU College of Law Library is excited to post another exciting installment of “Dear My 1L Self.” In this series, Librarians, Law Library GRAs, Law Students, and other interesting folks write actual, time-traveling letters to their 1L selves, giving them advice and telling them what to expect from law school and the practice of law. We hope that some of this advice will be helpful for our readers. Today, we get to hear from Terrance Manion, our Discovery & Research Services Librarian and a GSU Law graduate…

Dear 1L Terrance,

I want to offer you a couple of words of encouragement and reassurance as you begin your law school career.

Law school is a challenge, yes, and attending the part-time evening program at Georgia State Law while working full time is a truly unique challenge. The program is a marathon that runs for four to five years, depending on whether you take your summers off. Pace yourself and do not count the hours until nearing the end (particularly after that second calendar year). Take comfort in the following:

First, Georgia State Law is dedicated to the part-time evening program being as academically rigorous and meaningful as its full-time day program. It is not a satellite program taught by adjuncts or a less ambitious program as some part-time law programs seem to be. It will be the same curriculum. All Georgia State Law faculty will teach in the evening program. All of the college’s educational opportunities (Law Review, Moot Court, experiential learning, study abroad, etc.) are accessible to evening students, albeit you may need to prioritize which opportunities are most important to you. Take confidence that you will be on equal footing at graduation with your full-time counterparts, if not better because you have actual life and work experience, right?

Second, in the part-time evening program, you will not find professional students but student professionals, each facing the same challenges you are facing. They are juggling jobs, classes, personal lives, and copious amounts of reading and outlining. Their days start when they get to their jobs in the morning and do not end until classes wrap up around 9 PM (and 10 PM when you take evidence). They commute home (sometimes making a stop at a bar) knowing they will do it all over again tomorrow. They have the same anxieties about managing their time and energy. They have the same questions about whether they still have the intellectual stamina and aptitude for learning. They, too, have been out of school for a couple of years, if not longer. Because of this shared starting point (and the fact they will be in all your classes for two years), there is an inherent camaraderie in the part-time evening program. You will learn soon enough that your fellow students are not your competition. They are your safety net. They are your foundation. You will look after each other. They will become some of your closest friends and remain a resource and support network for the rest of your career.

Former GSU Law Library Director (& Associate Dean) Nancy P. Johnson

Third, you are incredibly fortunate, and I am not talking about having the most manageable commute from your office in the law library to the classroom. You have a mentor and boss in Nancy Johnson that also navigated the part-time evening program at Georgia State Law. At the very least, she will offer a little misery-loves-company, but you know she never does the very least. She will be your advisor, cheerleader, coach, sounding board, counselor, and yes, teacher. You will take her class, and you will not get the highest grade in that class. It will haunt you the rest of your days; however, knowing your study partner, good friend, and fellow part-time evening student got the highest grade makes it a little more bearable. She’ll have you teaching the class in the a year or so anyway.

Nancy will provide the space and support foundation for you to be successful, both in the part-time evening program and at your day job. While not all of our part-time evening students are fortunate enough to have a mentor of Nancy’s caliber, I’m nonetheless confident that the support of their friends, colleagues, teachers, and librarians will be a defining feature of their success.

In short, you are part of this community, you can do this, and you found the right place to do it.


Librarian Manion

P.S. While in law school keep a list of the books you want to read for your own enjoyment. You do not get much time to read recreationally in law school but when you graduate, you will go on a reading binge like at no other point in your life. Have the list ready.

It’s National Mental Health Day!

Check out these resources for law students

The ABA Law Student Division, like other groups around the United States, is observing National Mental Health Day. How do we celebrate—or participate in the celebration? In addition to the stress associated with our everyday lives, we often start thinking about the end of the semester around now. And that ramps up the stress for students and faculty alike!

The ABA’s Mental Health Day programming includes sessions on depression, suicide prevention, and emerging from the pandemic. Check it out! You might even be inspired to break out the hashtags and take part in the ABA’s social media campaign: #LawStudentWellness and #ABAMentalHealth.

Maybe you would like to extend your knowledge about mental health resources available on campus? The obvious place to start is with the resources available through the Counseling & Testing Center. The Center offers, in addition to counseling appointments, Be Well Panthers includes short articles about mindfulness, adulting, exercise, relationships, and more.

As you might expect, the Law Library also has some incredible resources for you. It may be that you can minimize your stress by consulting tools like those found in our online study aids collection. But, you will be happy to learn that we have other books that might be of interest.

We have books on mindfulness, such as The Anxious Lawyer: An 8-Week Guide to a Joyful and Satisfying Law Practice Through Mindfulness and Meditation, program materials from a continuing legal education session about applying mindfulness meditation in law practice, or Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment—And Your Life.

If mindfulness or meditation are not your jam, maybe you would find something like A Lawyer’s Guide to Wellbeing and Managing Stress of interest.  Stress Management for Lawyers: How to Increase Personal & Professional Satisfaction in the Law might offer tools and strategies you would find useful.

We have online access to some other titles that might be of interest. For example, Stress at Work: Management and Prevention is easily available and offers an overview of stress and how it functions as well as coping strategies. There are a bunch of online books about mindfulness, and you can review the results of this library search to pick the book of your choice. If you’d prefer to change the focus and search for lawyer and anxiety or depression, there are also some books you might find of interest.

If you haven’t heard it before, you can remember that you heard it here: taking care of your mental health will only help you as you work your way through law school and your future career path.

Dear My 1L Self- Do Not Believe Them.

The GSU College of Law Library is excited to post another exciting installment of “Dear My 1L Self.” In this series, Librarians, Law Library GRAs, Law Students, and other interesting folks write actual, time-traveling letters to their 1L selves, giving them advice and telling them what to expect from law school and the practice of law. We hope that some of this advice will be helpful for our readers. Today, we’ve got an inspiring message from Class of ’19 Grad (and Seyfarth Shaw Associate) Zain Haq…

Dear 1L Zain:

Don’t believe everything law school tells you. Well…okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it is still generally pretty good advice. Throughout your three years in law school, a big to-do will be made about the “right” or “proper” path to take in order to end up where you want to be. Your future self is here to remind you about the old cliché: There is no one path to success.

Not that your future self is per se successful yet (sorry to disappoint). BUT, you are striving for it. And, if I may be so bold, you’re well on your way. But you’ll realize throughout your journey that despite what you hear in law school, there are SO MANY ways to get to where you want to go.

Over the next three years, you’ll probably hear that in order to work for certain firms, you’ll have to participate in specific law school activities. Wrong. You’ll also probably hear that, in order to prepare yourself well for your first year of practice, you’ll have to summer at certain places. Also wrong. While the traditional paths law school talks about may work well for some people, it is not the only way to get to where you want to go. And, let’s face it, doing things the old-fashioned way has never really been your style.

Here’s my advice to you, young grasshopper: keep an open mind and listen to the advice law school gives you. It is good advice. But, spoiler alert, there is more than one right way of doing things, and you won’t follow the route law school lays out for you. And that is okay. Try new things, be open minded, and go after new experiences because they sound interesting and will make you happy, not because they promise a certain end result. At the end of the day, do it your way (cue Frank Sinatra).

Zain

Dear My 1L Self- You Earned Your Spot!

The GSU College of Law Library is excited to post another exciting installment of “Dear My 1L Self.” In this series, Librarians, Law Library GRAs, Law Students, and other interesting folks write actual, time-traveling letters to their 1L selves, giving them advice and telling them what to expect from law school and the practice of law. We hope that some of this advice will be helpful for our readers. Today, we’ve got an uplifting missive from 2L (and Urban Fellow) Liliana Esquivel…

Dear 1L Liliana:

First, be confident and don’t overthink things. The more you second guess yourself, the harder this journey will be. You made it in, you earned your spot! So, speak up when you know the answer or don’t understand something. You assume everyone else knows what’s going on, but the opposite is true: no one knows what’s going on. So, breathe and be open to talk more to the people around you; they know what you are going through.

When it comes to those really difficult cases, read them three times. Look for the arguments when you read a case, and always, always, always outline. You will find that what works best for you is handwriting your outline and then typing it up before class, so that it’s fresh in your mind. It’s also important to stick to your schedule and tell people no when you need those days to yourself. It’s ok to need alone time.

Later in your law school career, you’ll discover that the entire GSU Law community is extremely proud of you! But it might help to know now that you really do have a group of people who support you and root for you, so that you don’t feel alone. When you are overwhelmed, take it one task at a time, and little by little, you’ll get through it. I believe in you.

Best wishes,

Liliana Esquivel (2L version)

Ode to Study Aids

How do I study, let me count the ways?

I review my notes, summarize, restate

My future self I picture, earning As

How long to study, I can’t estimate!

Why are civil procedure, contracts, torts

So hard to wrap my tired brain around?

I ‘m desperate, overwhelm’d, out of sorts

I’m dragging, I’m flagging, in highlights drowned.

Stumped by lecture, black letter, check my text,

Questions, no answers! Help I cannot find?

Colleagues struggle too—we are all vexed

How to embed these concepts in my mind?

Law Library’s got my back, study aids

Connect, clarify, lifting up my grades

Seriously folks, we in the Law Library realizes that study aids are a useful tool in the effort to understand material that is presented through your textbook, lectures, and other assignments in your doctrinal courses.

To that end, we have an excellent collection of study aids that you can turn to if you need assistance or clarity as you seek to understand—or check your understanding—of concepts from class. Students often ask how to choose a good study aid.

Of course, in law school, the answer is usually “It depends.” It depends on what you’re looking for—do you need just a statement of the law? Do you want something that you can quiz yourself with? Are you looking to confirm that you’re outline structure of the relationship between concepts makes sense? Different study aids have different strengths. Many are based on books, but they also may be videos or even lessons like those CALI lessons you’ve heard so much about in class!

If you want help figuring out what options exist for a class you’re in, you can check out our Study Aid Finder. It’s organized so that study aids for required courses in your 1L or 2Lyears are pulled out separately, and study aids for other bar classes are included under recommended electives.

Remember that there are a variety of formats available to assist you. Have long drives in Atlanta and prefer to listen to an audio version? You can! Want to check a study aid at 3 in the morning without leaving the comfort of your home? You can!

If you’re looking for study aids for classes that fall out of the scope of regularly recommended bar classes, you will also find some study aid recommendations on the research guides for those subjects. Check out our federal tax research guide for an example! If you have questions about how to access study aids, our Introductory Guide for First Year Students is an excellent resource.

Dear My 1L Self- Find your Formula for Success

The GSU College of Law Library is excited to post this 5th installment of “Dear My 1L Self.” In this series, Librarians, Law Library GRAs, Law Students, and other interesting folks write actual letters to their 1L selves giving them advice and telling them what to expect from law school and the practice of law. We hope that some of this advice will be transferable to our readers, and show that even the most experienced of us have made a lot of mistakes. Today, we’ve got a dispatch from (and to) 3LP (and Law Library GRA) T.C. Deveau…

Dear My 1L Self,

Work smarter, not harder.

Your 3LP self recently read a twitter feed proffering advice to 1L’s and rising 1L’s that went something along the lines of “you should be working every minute you’re not in class, sleeping, or eating.”  This is terrible advice.

Do not put in work simply for the sake of putting in work.  This is especially true if you are a non-traditional student with other obligations outside of the classroom.  Just like sleeping with a book next to your head won’t help you learn, grinding for the sake of grinding won’t help you in the long run. Law School is a marathon, and you don’t want to burn out by sprinting from the starting line.

Every student is different and there is no “catch all” approach to being successful.  Everyone has their own formula for success.  Don’t forget to take a step back and figure out what is working for you and what isn’t.  Figure out your formula. 

Take those casebooks outdoors!

If you grasp a topic easily, think about why that might be – was it simple, or was there some way you learned or approached the material that aided your understanding?  Was there a teaching style the professor or course material used that helped you out?  When you run up against a weakness, how will you address it?  Should you read an additional 20 cases on the same topic with different fact patterns, or can you apply the approaches you took to subject matter you mastered to your weak spots and get there quicker?  Is there a resource at GSU that may aid your understanding without hitting your head against the wall too many times?

Don’t reinvent the wheel.  Take advantage of the resources GSU has to offer.  Professors and GRAs always make themselves available.  Campus organizations maintain wonderful outline banks for the benefit of younger students to supplement their own notes and outlines.  The Law Library maintains an extensive study aid collection that is freely available to existing GSU students (can be found here: https://libguides.law.gsu.edu/studyaidfinder).  Alumni are plentiful in the Atlanta law community and almost always willing and available to help mentor.  Finally, your peers are always there to help out, and the GSU COL student body is widely supportive of one another.  Study groups are your friend. 

You made it to law school.  You are driven.  You are bright.  You are insightful.  Use that insight and be introspective.  Take note of your strengths.  Take note of your weaknesses and come up with a plan to tackle them.  You will finish law school and pass the bar.  You got this.

-Todd (a.k.a. “T.C.”) Deveau, Ph.D.

GSU COL 3LP