Law School Supplements

Many 1Ls have heard about law school supplements, but don't quite know what they are. For the next post in my 1L Prep Series, I want to cover most, if not all, of the types of supplements you will come across while in law school.

Outlines- Outlines are something that almost every law student will use for finals. In my opinion, the best ones are the ones you make yourself- either throughout the semester or before finals. However, there can be some good commercial outlines that you can get to help clarify difficult topics. Barbri, Themis, and some other Bar Prep companies may distribute free (!!!) outlines for all of the 1L courses. There are also ones you can purchase for specific classes. I recommend trying to find ones that are written for the specific casebook for your class. If not, general outlines work well too.

Like mentioned, I believe the outlines you make are the best outlines. They are made for you, by you, and for the class you are in. Commercial outlines can't provide that. However, they can provide a helpful explanation, definition, or re-wording of something you may not understand.

Flashcards- It is easy to find Flashcards for specific law school courses. These are helpful because they are comprehensive, but like outlines, I think making your own is the best way to go.

Nutshells- Nutshells are short study guides. They emphasize important aspects of a subject, including cases and statutes. They are typically written by leading experts in the subject, so you can be sure the information is correct. I don't recommend these for learning material, but for final review or for clarification.

Hornbooks/Treatises- These are much longer study aids. Hornbooks are typically one volume treatises, while treatises can have multiple volumes. These are very detailed sources covering law subjects. A good treatise can make the difference between not understanding a topic and completely understanding it. I recommend using hornbooks and treatises to prepare for finals, as well as reading it during the semester, in tandem with your casebook. They can explain topics in an easier way to understand than casebooks do. They are good to keep for once you are practicing and need information on something you may not remember from law school.

Example & Explanations- These books are super popular among law students. Shorter than treatises and longer than nutshells, they provide clear explanations of law and hypothetical questions to help you further your understanding of law school subjects. These are great for preparing for finals.

Restatements- Available by subject, Restatements contain general about common law principles. Depending on your professors, you may or may not use Restatements. I recommend following your professor's instructions on whether or not to use a restatement.

Online Resources- There are plenty of online resources available to law students: some good, some not so good. If your casebook is has an online aspect, there may be outlines, study questions (both multiple choice and essay), and other study tools. Since these come from the editors of casebooks, they are generally a good resource. Another good online resource is CALI, which offers online lessons in almost every topic of law you can think of. Quimbee is my favorite online resource, but you do have to pay for a subscription. It has case briefs from most major casebooks, tons of multiple choice questions, video lessons, flashcards, and outlines (for sale). I use Quimbee when reading cases, reviewing cases, and preparing for finals. Barbri also has a program specifically for 1Ls to help master first year curriculum.

There are a LOT of law school supplements, but don't rush out and buy them all. I would wait until you get a class syllabus because of lot of professors have certain supplements that they recommend. Your law school library is very likely to have nutshells, hornbooks, and treatises to check out. Also, you may find that certain supplements are more helpful to you than others. It is better to save your money until you know exactly what helps you. What supplements are you thinking about getting? Leave a note in the comments!


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