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)

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 

Dear My 1L Self- Enjoy Life!

The GSU College of Law Library is excited to post this 4th 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) 3L (and Law Library GRA) Ross Crowell…

Dear My 1L Self, 

This is going to sound crazy, but you do not have to be the last person at the Law Library every night. I know you have always been told by everyone your entire life that you can succeed by outworking everyone else, but here that ideology does not work. By mid-December, you will be completely burned out and your brain will barely be able to function. Work hard, but do not make law school the only thing in your life. 

While you are studying, do not worry about day-to-day issues. If you cannot figure out a case on a random Tuesday in October, odds are it will have no impact on your grade. If you get called on and are not sure of the answer, it is not the end of the world. Everyone else is in the same boat as you, just trying their best to get by. 

Once you start studying for exams, do not just focus on memorizing information, as that will not benefit you on the exam. Get your outlines completed during Thanksgiving break, then spend the next week before finals working on practice problems. Do not just read a problem and casually jot down your thoughts. You need to get in the habit of writing out full answers under a time limit. Once you practice writing out these answers several times, you will have a better feel for timing on the exam. 

Two days after your last final you’ll be much happier with your family in Rome.

Additionally, over Thanksgiving break (and the rest of the semester), do not spend a disproportionate amount of your time on Lawyering Foundations. While the class is important, do not waste your entire Thanksgiving break reading over your final memo 100 times. Make time for your other classes as well. Further, do not worry about the abundance of negative feedback you get on your papers; your bosses the next two summers will let you know that your writing is just fine. 

Finally, it is important to remember to enjoy life. Watch Sunday Night Football instead of stressing over the case you just read but do not understand. Go for runs and bike rides during the week. Play Xbox and let your brain turn off for an hour or two. Also, eat some salads and do not just heat up frozen pasta dishes when you get home at 8:00 every night; your brain and body will feel much better. I know this goes against everything you have heard in life up to this point, but working harder and longer than everyone does not guarantee you success. Work hard, but do not make school the only focus in your life. It might sound crazy now, but your brain will be fresh and ready to go in December for Finals. 

Best of luck, 

Future Ross Crowell

Dear My 1L Self – DO NOT ‘Fake it Till You Make IT’

The GSU College of Law Library is excited to announce an all new Blackacre Times Series – “Dear My 1L Self.”  In this series, Librarians, Law Library GRAs, Students, and maybe even alumni will write 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. So, without further ado… 

Dear 1L Patrick, 

DO NOT fake it till you make it.  You are starting law school and are so much less prepared than you actually think.  The things that made you good at high school and college, mainly being really good at remembering lots of information,  are NO LONGER USEFUL. I mean, they’ll always be useful, but if you don’t strip down your intellectual process and rework your approach from the ground up you’re not going to do very well.  Read books about how to succeed in law school and do a ton of practice problems.  Having a really well put together outline will not matter if you don’t spend some time learning how to take law school exams.  In fact, you’ll end up getting a C+ in contracts, the class you basically explained to everyone all semester, because you didn’t really get what the professor wanted in the exam.   

This “clever slacker” persona that you’ve whole heartedly accepted for yourself will no longer work.  You’ll need to learn to ask for help, and give things enough time so asking for help is an option.  Remember when you were an undergrad and took symbolic logic and were terrified you’d fail, so you went to every office hour and ended up getting the best grade in the class?  You need to be that engaged for every. single. class.  I know you are very confident about your ability to do this.  That’s great, but it’s basically unfounded.  Innate ability alone is not going to be enough to do well.  You have a lot of work to do, and it’s better that this gut check comes from me (us?) now than after a whole semester of very inefficient work.  Go see your professors now.  Be engaged in class. Stop asking other 1L’s for advice – they’re more clueless than you.  Instead, bite the bullet and utilize your professors and academic success department.  Do things the right way.  This is the only way you’re going to do as well as you want.   

Also, stop going to chicken wing night every Tuesday at the William Penn Tavern.  If you can’t stay in, at least go late and leave early.  You can watch the Pittsburgh Penguins by yourself at home. 

Warmest regards, 

Future Patrick 

1L Patrick in the wild

Get rid of the distractions and make the most of your study time

Sign that says Social Distraction

by Daniel Lobo

As we get closer to exams you may be wondering how to make the most of your study time. One of the biggest distractions can be the constant barrage of new text messages, emails, and social media posts. Studies have shown that every time you check email or look at social media you lose 23 minutes. However, there are some things you can do to create a distraction free study space.

  1. Turn off the notifications on your phone, tablet, laptop, etc. You can control when you take a break from studying instead of being at the mercy of notifications.
  2. Install an anti-distraction app. See some suggestions below.
  3. If your phone is the problem, set it on airplane mode while you are studying

Anti-distraction apps:

Freedom – Mac, iOS, Windows – You can use Freedom on your devices, computer, iPhone, and iPad. An Android subscription to (OFFTIME) Pro (see below) is included with purchase. Freedom allows you to block specific websites and apps or the entire internet. You can schedule specific times for the blocking to start and even put your device in locked mode. However, Freedom is not free. (See what I did there?) You can get unlimited access on a month by month basis for $6.99/month. If you commit to a year, it is $29/year.

(OFFTIME) – Android and iOS ((OFFTIME) Light) phones – (OFFTIME) allows you to block apps, calls, text, and notifications. The Android version allows you to select people who can still get through. The app has some other interesting features such as analytics of your phone usage and the ability to invite others to a shared (OFFTIME). The less robust (OFFTIME) Light is $2.99 for iOS devices. The Android pricing is somewhat unclear. It appears that you can download the app for free and upgrade to (OFFTIME) Pro for a suggested payment of 3 Euro.

SelfControl – OS X – SelfControl allows you to block email and websites for a period of time that you choose. Caution: Once it is started you can not turn it off until the timer runs out. It is Free Software under the GNU General Public License (GPL). If you know how to code, you can make changes to the sourcecode posted on Github.

Focus Lock – Android – Lock out selected apps for a set period of time. The default setting is for 25 minutes of work and a 5 minute break. Free.

Focus – Mac – Block websites and apps for a set period of time. Focus also allows you to schedule blocked times. A license for one Mac is $19.99.

Looking for other options? Try search anti-distraction apps to find what works best for you.

Now, stop being distracted and get back to studying. Good luck on exams!