This super-deluxe mega Spotlight is a sequel to our earlier post with guidance on the premier study aids for this semester’s 1L courses. This time, we’re movin’ on up, hitting up some of those current upper-level courses and telling you which study aids are undoubtedly the very best.
As a 2L or 3L, you’ve already endured law school finals, so you basically know what to expect. This increased familiarity may have also given you a better sense of how to prepare. Perhaps you’ve decided to sharpen your outlines into a more exam-ready ‘attack’ format? Maybe you’ve pledged to work more practice exams into your study routine? If you reflect upon your previous exam experiences, you can probably find some ways to ‘level up’ your approach to finals this time around.
But do you know which study aids work well for your upper-level courses? Perhaps you’ve noticed that truly helpful study aids are a bit harder to find for these courses, especially the electives. Fewer students take them, so it’s natural that fewer study aids are published to supplement them. Moreover, quite a few of the upper-level courses are rooted in constitutional jurisprudence, which is less suited to the example-based format of many study aids than the common law courses of your 1L year.
So, if you’ve thoroughly perused the study aid shelves in the back of the library, failed to find Glannon’s trusted name on any of the pertinent spines, and skulked back to your study station empty-handed, this is the post for you. I’m going to help you choose the best study aids for your courses. That is, I’m giving you the inside scoop on which titles are the tip-top, best-in-class study aids to illuminate your courses and position you to triumph over another round of exams. Of course, in the interest of keeping this post of a manageable length, there aren’t selections for every upper-level offering, but most of the required courses (and two important electives) are here.
Constitutional Law I- Constitutional Law: Principles & Policies (Chemerinsky)
This study aid has a well-deserved reputation for being a game-changer for this challenging course. It’s an absolute classic, and we’ve sung its praises before. It offers tight, lucid descriptions of the key cases that nonetheless manage to capture many of their nuances, while also placing them in the context of SCOTUS’s evolving doctrines. I remember finding it to be a huge help when reworking my outline, but it can also work very well as a general refresher when you have trouble recalling the specifics of those early-semester cases. However, its format is designed to serve as a quick reference, not to help you learn to apply these doctrines. ConLaw exams tend to vary quite a bit from professor to professor, so that may be for the best, but that does mean it’s more important than ever be attentive to your professor’s hypotheticals. You should also see if they have any past exams available, in our archive or elsewhere. Note that this one isn’t available in the library’s online collections, so you’ll need to use it in print.
Evidence- Examples & Explanations for Evidence
In contrast to ConLaw, the rule-based structure of this course is particularly well-suited to the E&E format. The short examples allow you to gain some insight into how the FRE actually work, both in the real world and on your exam. This one also has the virtue of a writing style that makes intimidating topics quite approachable. In particular, I could appreciate how it discusses “hearsay’s appearance of difficulty to ‘outsiders’ and its relative simplicity to initiates” before proceeding to swiftly induct you into the ranks of the latter via two succinct chapters demystifying this topic.
Criminal Procedure: Investigations- Examples & Explanations for Criminal Procedure: The Constitution and the Police
It’s tricky to choose the best approach for this course, which combines ConLaw’s policy orientation with the labyrinthine analytical constructs more often associated with courses like Evidence or CivPro. Fortunately, this E&E does a solid job of addressing both of these aspects. This study aid tries to ‘simulate the Socratic classroom at its best’ and it shows. The examples are shorter than what I’ve seen in other E&Es, but they build upon one another in a way that does a good job of illuminating not just the boundaries of the applicable doctrines, but the justifications behind those boundaries.
Criminal Procedure: Adjudication– Principles of Criminal Procedure: Post-Investigation
The Concise Hornbook series is my go-to study aid for if you’re chiefly after a summary of the law. In particular, this one does a great job of tying together the many disparate topics covered in this course. A great example is the early discussion of the CrimPro’s “cornerstone objectives,” which supplies just the type of valuable context that can help make the whole course ‘click.’
Do you like these choices? Do you disagree with them? Which study aids are your top choices? Let us know in the comments!