Law School Discussion

commercial outlines - WHICH ONE?!


commercial outlines - WHICH ONE?!
« on: August 05, 2008, 11:03:45 PM »
Hi All,

I've been reading from various sources that commercial outlines are a necessary supplement for most 1L's. I've heard recommendations for 2. The Emanuel outlines and the Gilbert outlines.

So my question is Gilbert or Emanuel? Thanks!

Re: commercial outlines - WHICH ONE?!
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2008, 11:25:24 PM »
Neither.  Use the "Understanding" series from LexisNexis.  To do well, you need to make your own outlines.  Gilbert's and Emanuel's don't give you that opportunity. 

The aforementioned series is a treatise in that area of the law.  The book are excellent.  You can get them cheap on  Here is the link to the official site:

Re: commercial outlines - WHICH ONE?!
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2008, 01:27:17 AM »
To do well, you need to make your own outlines.  Gilbert's and Emanuel's don't give you that opportunity. 

Shenanigans. I didn't make a single outline on my own. I did just fine. It all depends on what is best for you individually.


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Re: commercial outlines - WHICH ONE?!
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2008, 09:42:34 AM »
You can use commercial outlines such as Emmanuels or Gilberts or Crunchtime or whatever, to supplement your outline, but nothing takes the place of doing your own. There are so many study aids out there, you really need to find what works best for you. I used a mixture depending on the class. The only steady one I found that I liked was the Crunchtime series, but by no means is it exhaustive. I found it to be a great and quick review tool. The others you mentioned are more extensive, but you might not need that much.
The Understanding Series and other treatises and hornbooks I found to be more helpful during the semester when I was struggling with a concept. I wouldn't recommend using them as a review tool.
The key is to find what works best for you. Besides your own outline, the next best thing is one from an upperclassmen who had the same prof.

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Re: commercial outlines - WHICH ONE?!
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2008, 09:51:55 AM »
It depends on the class.

I know that Gilberts is great for civ pro.

But dont forget that Google can be your best friend.

Re: commercial outlines - WHICH ONE?!
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2008, 11:41:08 AM »
I prefer Emanuels.  I always made my own outline using my class notes and an emanuels outline.

Re: commercial outlines - WHICH ONE?!
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2008, 04:44:25 PM »
I would also take a look at some really good commercial supplements in addition to commercial outlines (maybe you already know what supplements you want and that's why you limited your question to commercial outlines).  But for what it's worth, here are what I thought were the best supplement/outlines for the core 1L classes:

Civil Procedure:  Glannon's Examples & Explanations, Gilbert's
Constitutional Law:  Chemerinksy's Principles & Policies
Contracts:  Crunchtime series (I think same publisher as Emanuels), Hillman's Concise Hornbook
Criminal Law:  Understanding Criminal Law
Property:  Understanding Property Law, Glannon's Examples & Explanations
Torts:  Emanuels

Also look to see if your professors wrote any of the supplements/outlines.  If they did, I'd go with that.  Overall though, I'd agree with some of the previous posts.  Making your own outlines are generally the best way to go.  If you can find a 2L/3L who had the same professor as you, did well in his/her class, and is willing to share their outline with you, that is probably even better than getting a commercial outline.


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Re: commercial outlines - WHICH ONE?!
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2008, 05:08:29 PM »
Here's my 1L "best of" list.  I definitely preferred hornbooks/treatises to commercial outlines.  Other than the Crunchtime, I would advise reading these throughout the semester, rather than to study for finals.

CivPro: E&E
ConLaw: Chemerinsky
Contracts: Crunchtime
Crim: Understanding Crim Law
Property: Gilberts by Dukeminier (keyed to my textbook)
Torts: The Forms and Functions of Tort Law

I've also heard that Chirelstein's Concepts of Contracts is really good, though I didn't use it.  I didn't make any of my own outlines, but I did modify the outlines of upperclassmen who had the same profs.  If you're gonna use a treaty/hornbook, buy it at the beginning of the semester and read consistently.  You can figure out if you need outlines as you go along, and you can always borrow these from upperclassmen, student groups or the library.
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Re: commercial outlines - WHICH ONE?!
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2008, 05:51:18 PM »
There is no one-fit solution for everyone.  Having said that, I ranked within the top 10% this year and would say that there is definite truth to the advice of "DO YOUR OWN OUTLINES."

You should not be overly concerned with a commercial outline, other than to possible verify what you've already done on your own.  I didn't touch any books outside of what the law school told me to buy, and it worked out.

In law school - especially at a lower-ranked school - you may encounter peer pressure about this and feel like it's a race to accumulate the most outlines / books / CD's / crystal balls / whatever.  But the truth is that there's no substitute for doing and understanding the work the professor assigns.

I would also bear in mind that there's a whole industry out there bent around making law students feel like they need to BUY BUY BUY in order to succeed (cite 'Law School Preview' and other worthless programs).  As I said above, do your own work and relax.
I'll never trust a Klingon.  Klingon bastards killed my son.  -- Captain James T. Kirk, USS Enterprise NCC-1701

Re: commercial outlines - WHICH ONE?!
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2008, 09:33:41 AM »
There's truth in the idea that you have to make your own outlines to really master the material.  On the other hand, commercial (or other people's) outlines can be very helpful in keeping one's head above water during the semester, and ensuring you know & understand the key points from every area of law. 

Even just reviewing a Gilbert's/Emanuelle's capsule summary can be enough to pass a 3-month course, if you're good at issue-spotter exams.  Knowing this can help reduce anxiety, especially first year, and that alone is worth something.  Don't rely on this exclusively, of course, because it's not enough to get an A (or even a B+), which is what you should be shooting for.  They won't give you your profs perspective, which will be part of the exam, or a thorough understanding of how to apply the rule.  But simply knowing the rule is obviously an important part of exams, and commercial outlines can give you a framework to build upon.  Given the stress, anxiety, and uncertainty of first year, that can be extremely helpful.

My advice would be to 1) review the capsule summary each weekend for the area of law about to be covered that week, 2) review the assigned cases, if possible, 3) review the capsule summary again (along with the body of the outline) to see if your interpretation of the rule adds up, 3) Attend class and take good notes.  Rely on your prof's perspective above all. 

Bottom line, the case method basically plays "hide the ball" with the rule.  Cases and profs generally won't spell out the rule, but you'll instead have to interpret/divine it from the cases and the profs' questions, at least until later in the lecture.  This is a good way to learn to think like a lawyer, but it's a terribly inefficient way to learn the actual rules.  You should always attempt to review the cases carefully, see how the rule is applied, etc., but if you get behind, it's important to note that what really matters is that you learn the rule (and place it in your outline) for the end of the semester.