Study Aid Spotlight: Acing Evidence

by Ralaya Evans, 2L

As 1Ls, we are often guided on which study aids are good to use to help us prepare for some of the hardest exams we will ever have to take. Once we enter into 2L year, we are aware that study aids are helpful, but not always sure where to find them. I talked with a few friends, and we all are of the opinion that Evidence, during 2L year, is one of the courses in a study aid that could be most helpful. Evidence is such a dense and rule-intensive course. During the semester, we review and learn the rules separately, which is not so bad. However, when it is time for the final exam, we quickly realize we will have to be able to identify which rule applies to each problem and this is not always so easy.

Study Aids for Evidence are important for so many reasons. This area of law is important for litigators and transactional attorneys, and studying it gives us all practice for the bar.

Knowing this, I searched for several Evidence study aids and came across Acing Evidence by Aviva Orenstein. I worked with this guide to study for my upcoming final exam and can honestly say that my confidence greatly increased as a result. The “Acing Evidence” study aid has been extremely helpful for a few reasons:

  • Practice Problems: This study aid provides examples and practice at the end of every lesson. For example, the first chapter discusses Relevance, which is a big part of Evidence. At the end, there is a page titled “Illustrative Problems.” Here, you will find questions and answers to practice. The majority, if not all, Evidence professors will tell you that one of the best ways to get great at Evidence and prepare for exams is to practice.
  • Checklists: There are checklists for the majority of the rules. In Evidence, checklists are your absolute best friend. You can virtually get every question correct if you find/develop the correct check list for that rule and apply it to the question. Character is one of the best parts of Evidence to have a checklist for and Chapter 2 of the study aid provides this checklist. Try it out next time you are practicing evidence
  • Reminders: Another great aspect of this study aid is the Points to Remember after each chapter. This provides a quick highlight of the important parts of the chapter and sometimes acronyms to remember points about Evidence during an exam.

As far as study aids go, I give this one two thumbs up. If you need help finding a study aid for another course, don’t forget that the reference librarians are always here to assist. Good luck with exams!

4 Tips for In-Person Exams

by Alison Guffey, 3L

For many law students, this semester marks the first time you will be taking a law school examination in-person, either because you are a finals novice altogether (welcome 1Ls!) or because you have been a faithful student of the Zoom School of Law. In either case, as you sit for your first in-person exam, here are four tips to prepare you.

Tip 1: Study on campus.

Carve out some time to study on campus before your exam date. Though it is often more comfortable and convenient to study at home, studying at least once in the same environment you will be taking the exam will help improve your overall performance.

Tip 2. Noise is inevitable.

You never realize just how loud someone can type until you’re an hour into an in-person final, reading the same multiple choice question for the third time in a row while the sound of tiny, tap-dancing mice fills the room. Typing, pencils scratching, chairs moving and creaking – these sounds can be distracting during an exam. Unfortunately, there really isn’t a way to avoid this one. The best tool you have is to mentally prepare yourself that noise will happen, and try not to be caught off guard by it.

Tip 3: Arrive an hour early.

The trek to your in-person final will likely be longer than that from your bed to your laptop. Thus, in addition to triple-checking the start time, plan to be at the COL at least an hour before your final exam begins. You will be grateful for the extra time if Atlanta traffic rears its ugly head or T-deck is inexplicably full. Plus, you will never regret reading through your outline one last time before the exam starts.

Tip 4: Think through what materials you can bring.

The days of sprawling notebooks on your kitchen table are over. In-person exams limit the space you have available to reference other sources, and your professor might further limit those resources. Review what is and is not allowed in your exam and plan accordingly.

Taking exams in person might seem daunting or even scary. Just remember – you are now one in a long line of law students who have taken in-person final examinations. Welcome to the club, and best of luck!

GSU Law Pets- Far Too Adorable or The Perfect Amount of Cute?

With Finals right around the corner, the library has shifted into full-on “Pet Picture” mode. That’s right, instead of informing you about library events and services, the library signs will now beguile you with extremely cute pictures of your own pets! That way, as you pause to to catch your breath before running through the Rule Against Perpetuities one more time, you can look up and see the relaxing, inspiring visage of one of our faithful furry friends. In order to really bring home the sheer cuteness on display, we’ll use this blog post to get to know a few of GSU Law’s pets a little bit better.

Some pets go beyond inspiration and comfort to actually study law right alongside you. That’s the case with the impeccably-named Princess Vanilla Pudding, pictured here helping 2L Nicole Walker Smith get ready for her CivPro exam.

Next up, we have another pet with an amazing name, Kahlua Romeo. She’s also an enthusiastic learner of the law, who likes to jump up and participate during Zoom classes, although 3L Sonny Romeo warns that “Professor Stephens scares her a bit.”

If pets can effectively study law, perhaps they can also execute key governmental functions. As you can see from this picture of 3L Alex Beato’s pup Reagan, our pets have already gotten pretty close to the White House! Alex adopted Reagan from a shelter, and reports that “she has never met a person, squirrel, or really any other living creature she doesn’t love and lives for all the pets and attention she can get.”

Clearly, if the U.S. News & World Report’s rankings included “cuteness of student pets” as a criteria, GSU Law would mount a challenge to Yale and Harvard. Be on the look out for a sequel to this post featuring more of these highly-ranked pets. Until then, if you want to see more of these astoundingly cute animals, you’ll have to make it in to the library. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check out some of our amazing exam-related resources, like our study aid collections and the exam archive. Good luck!

Study Aid Spotlight- Examples & Explanations for Criminal Law

by Ross Crowell, 3L & Law Library GRA

For all of you 1Ls, I am sure you are busy studying for your Criminal Law final. When I took it, the world was turning upside down as COVID-19 had just hit and our classes were going entirely online. Luckily, I had a lot of time on my hands for studying, since there was little else to do in the world. During my Finals prep, I found Examples & Explanations for Criminal Law to be very helpful.

This study aid is immediately useful for its easy-to-understand definitions for key criminal law terms. It does an especially good job of distinguishing the many closely-related terms and concepts studied in the course, such as first-degree murder, second-degree murder, felony murder, and manslaughter. It also explains the often-confusing distinctions between the differing approaches to defining crimes like these, including thorough coverage of the Model Penal Code.

Like others in the E&E series, this study aid also includes a variety of illustrative practice problems, each coupled with a thorough explanation of its answer. This format helps you to become more familiar with applying the law to a variety of hypotheticals. The practice problems in the Criminal Law E&E were also shorter than others I’ve encountered, which makes them easier to incorporate into your study routine. You are able to practice issue-spotting and analysis without being forced to read through a hypo that drags on for multiple pages. While it is important to do full-length practice problems and write out full answers, the shorter hypos in this study aid are a great resource for quick analysis, and a good way to quickly see whether you are on the right track.

Whether you just need to brush up on some key concepts or run through some questions in an exam-like format, Examples & Explanations for Criminal Law is a good choice. You can find the most up-to-date version of this study aid in print. We also have the previous edition available online through the Aspen Learning Library, where it can be used in your browser, or with the associated app.

Introducing Aspen Learning Library (formerly known as Wolters Kluwer Online Study Aid Library) & its Companion App

In this post, Law Library GRA Ross Crowell takes a closer look at a resource with a fancy new name but lots of familiar (and very helpful) content.

If you’re a regular user of the law library’s online study aid collection, you’ve probably noticed the recent change in nomenclature: what was formerly known as the Wolters Kluwer Online Study Aid Library is now called Aspen Learning Library. It’s got all of the same study aids, and you can still find it in the same place on the library’s database list, but it now features a new interface and a new app (rather sensibly called the Aspen Learning Library App), which you can find on the App Store, Google Play, and for desktops. I downloaded it on my MacBook and have enjoyed the ease of being able to access all of these great study aids in just a few clicks. Instead of having to log onto the GSU Law Library website and then log in again to access these study aids, they are now accessible simply by opening an app. In addition, unlike the generic IPC Reader app that some students used for these study aids, this one is designed specifically for these resources.

Here is a look at the desktop app’s interface. As of now, there are 211 different study aids that are accessible through the app. 

You’re sure to see some familiar titles. All 1L course study aids are available here, along with study aids for many other courses such as Admin Law, Corporations, Wills Trusts & Estates, and Constitutional Law. One favorite I accessed via the app are the Casenote Legal Briefs, which provide detailed briefs for many cases. Personally, I wish I would have used this study aid for Con Law during my 2L year, as it would have made my life a lot easier by simplifying the long cases that I struggled to understand. These briefs can be great when you are struggling with a case, as they provide condensed and simplified explanations. 

In addition to the Legal Briefs, the app also has Examples & Explanations for many popular electives and core classes. I enjoy using these study aids around finals time, as they can be a good way to do practice problems and then check your answers. There are several other types of study aids available in the app, but these two are the ones that I use the most. 

Feel free to download the app, get logged in, and access all of these great study aids to get you through the semester. To get started, I downloaded the app here. After starting the app, I signed in through “OpenAthens”, searched Georgia State University, then logged in with my GSU credentials. Hopefully, you find that this app will be beneficial to you for the semester and the rest of your time in law school.

Study Aid Spotlight- Select Upper-level Selections

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: AdjudicationPrinciples 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!

Study Aid Spotlight- Acing Contracts

By Ross Crowell

In today’s Study Aid Spotlight, Law Library GRA Ross Crowell looks at a concise, popular study aid for your Contracts course. To make sure you’ve got all of your 1L bases covered, check out our recent post with librarian-curated study aid selections for all of them.

To me, the first semester of Contracts was a complete blur. From the big picture, everything seemed so simple. Offer, acceptance, consideration. Easy enough. However, once we got into the details of cases, things got quite confusing. As a 1L, Acing Contracts helped clear up a lot of these issues as I was cramming for the final exam. 

You can access Acing Contracts very easily: in addition to the library’s print copy, a digital version of the text is available through West Academic’s online study aid collection. Before getting into the nitty gritty details of your Contracts course, check out the Table of Contents for a solid foundation of topics (Offer and Acceptance, Consideration, Statute of Frauds, Defenses, Parol Evidence, etc.), that will help you organize your outline headings. 

Getting into the details, Acing Contracts does a good job of putting the course’s rules and explanations into plain English. As a 1L, so many times I would read some case from the early 1900s and, due to the language and writing style used at the time, it would be tough for me to follow along. Acing Contracts breaks down all of that legal jargon, explaining what you need to know in more modern terms.

It also does a good job of giving relevant examples. There are tons of practice problems that are useful for exam practice, and each comes with an in-depth answer. (Side note – I highly recommend writing out several practice problems for each class. That is probably the biggest thing I realized that I needed to change about my exam preparation after my first semester of law school.) 

Moreover, Acing Contracts provides rule statements from the almighty Restatement Second of Contracts and the UCC. Additionally, it provides checklists for some concepts you might come across (a great example I took advantage of is the in-depth Statute of Frauds checklist).

This study aid will definitely help you write your Contracts outline and study for your final. Most of all, I appreciated the way it put complicated concepts into easy-to-read language. While it is probably best to focus your outlining and studying around your class’s lectures and textbook, Acing Contracts is a great study tool for filling in the gaps and clearing up some of the more complicated concepts.

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!

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- 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)