Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: Study Aids/Commercial Outlines/Hornbooks/etc.  (Read 2826 times)

Blue08

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 32
    • View Profile
Study Aids/Commercial Outlines/Hornbooks/etc.
« on: May 05, 2009, 06:36:21 PM »
I'm super curious about this stuff.

Does it matter much what brand/type of supplement you buy? I know sometimes profs will tell you which hornbook goes best with the assigned casebook, but what about when then don't provide such a reco?

Like, for example, I know the Examples and Explanations series is popular. But there are other publishers that produce similar products. Is it just personal preference?

Finally, let's say you've got a schedule like mine for the summer - I'm a summer starter at Michigan. I'll be taking Torts and Civ Pro. Do I need/should I get an EE-type guide, a commercial outline AND a hornbook for each class? Or is all of this, again, a matter of preference? I could afford all of these things if they're really, truly helpful. But I'd rather not break the bank for a false sense of security.

I've never even so much as flipped through any of these materials and don't know exactly how they function in terms of usefulness.

Thanks.

UnbiasedObserver

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 2014
    • View Profile
Re: Study Aids/Commercial Outlines/Hornbooks/etc.
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2009, 10:44:20 PM »
I'm super curious about this stuff.

Does it matter much what brand/type of supplement you buy? I know sometimes profs will tell you which hornbook goes best with the assigned casebook, but what about when then don't provide such a reco?

Like, for example, I know the Examples and Explanations series is popular. But there are other publishers that produce similar products. Is it just personal preference?

Finally, let's say you've got a schedule like mine for the summer - I'm a summer starter at Michigan. I'll be taking Torts and Civ Pro. Do I need/should I get an EE-type guide, a commercial outline AND a hornbook for each class? Or is all of this, again, a matter of preference? I could afford all of these things if they're really, truly helpful. But I'd rather not break the bank for a false sense of security.

I've never even so much as flipped through any of these materials and don't know exactly how they function in terms of usefulness.

Thanks.

While I can't talk about other schools, it's best at my school to wait until the first day/week of classes to decide which supplements you want to buy.  (Also, note that most law schools have the "good" supplements so you won't have to buy them often.) Many teachers at my school will recommend certain supplements, and some of them actually warn you NOT to read certain ones (because it's too simplistic, the teacher disagrees with certain topics, etc.).

E&E's are great to get a grasp of the terminology of a subject, but they can be fairly simplistic.  Many prefer other sources.  If your teachers don't talk about supplements, it's best to talk to 2L's and 3L's and: 1) get their outlines and see which topics are covered in which supplements, which will help you choose, and/or 2) ask 2L's and 3L's what they used.  Most law students are actually VERY nice and helpful if you're not afraid to ask.

Good luck!

jsb221

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 159
    • View Profile
Re: Study Aids/Commercial Outlines/Hornbooks/etc.
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2009, 09:45:42 AM »
I agree with Unbiased. Some profs will recommend one while others will recommend against one.
Also, I don't think you'll an E&E, commercial outline and hornbook for every class. You'll find some classes easier than others and might not need any. Others you might need and E&E and an outline just to supplement your own.
Also, some of these can become quite expensive so wait, talk to other students at your school who had the class with the same prof and see what they used, and check out your library. They probably have some on hand for you to flip thru to see which you might prefer and works best for you before you invest a ton in everything.
that said, if you are looking for a quick review right before finals, I always liked the Crunchtime series. It was very short and to the point, gave helpful exam tips, and had practice Q&A's.

Slumdog Lovebutton

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 3082
    • View Profile
Re: Study Aids/Commercial Outlines/Hornbooks/etc.
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2009, 08:11:35 PM »
A hornbook is like a casebook, except distilled and in summary form.  There is less hiding-the-ball going on in a hornbook, and more "here, catch this ball I'm throwing."

I definitely second the recommendations to wait until you get to class and then you can get recommendations from the professor and upper year students.  One of my professors once strongly recommended a particular hornbook, and it turned out that most of his exam questions came directly from the hornbook.

E&Es are extremely helpful in general.  I've never heard of a professor recommending them since E&Es are very focused on how to understand the material so that you can succeed on the exam, whereas profs like to think that you will understand the heady academic nature of the material and not even think about the exam until shortly before.  But if you really work through the examples instead of just skimming the book, you'll get a lot out of it.  I think the Civ Pro E&E was largely responsible for my good grade at the end of that course.
* Columbia Law, Class of 2011 *

LSN

UnbiasedObserver

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 2014
    • View Profile
Re: Study Aids/Commercial Outlines/Hornbooks/etc.
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2009, 08:14:25 PM »
But if you really work through the examples instead of just skimming the book, you'll get a lot out of it. 

Exactly.  The chapters can be fairly simplistic, but the examples help bring out the subtleties nicely. 

jsb221

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 159
    • View Profile
Re: Study Aids/Commercial Outlines/Hornbooks/etc.
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2009, 11:20:39 AM »
I agree. The Civ Pro E&E by Glannon is very good. My prof actually recommended it. I didn't use it for the entire class, just areas where I was struggling. It spelled things out very clearly.

likeitmatters

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 28
    • View Profile
Re: Study Aids/Commercial Outlines/Hornbooks/etc.
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2009, 01:33:58 PM »
your best bet is to wait until you've started classes before you buy any supplements.  I bought Emanuel outlines for all of my classes before classes actually started, and it turned out they were all garbage.  I'm sure they were helpful for some people, but for me and my prof's, they weren't very good.  I ended up having to go out and buy a bunch of different hornbooks and supplements anyways. 

Here are my suggestions... Wait and see what your prof recommends.  Try to get your hands on the different outlines and supplements so you can see which fits your learning style. MY school has all of them on reserve at the law library, i'm sure other schools do the same.  Personally, I hate E&E and the concise hornbook series, but love Gilberts and the 'Intro to' hornbook series.  its really based on your learning style.  good luck in your first year!     

mtbrider59

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 70
    • View Profile
Re: Study Aids/Commercial Outlines/Hornbooks/etc.
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2009, 02:23:17 PM »
I personally have found that a hornbook written by the same author as your casebook to be the best aid to use during the course to be best(mostly because they'll refer to the same cases) I've used both the concise(good because its generally shorter than most horn books) and the Understanding series not as short but for a a resource for  referencing during the semester for topics you just don't quite get, a good bet.
I also prefer the Crunchtime series for exam prep- you get a bit of everything; a flowchart(helpful if you're a visual learner like me), a summary (a written explanation of key points though not as thorough as a hornbook, exam tips(good to point out typical frequently tested issues by profs) Exam examples-0 both short answer and essay.
I'd agree with others and wait til the first classes to see what profs reccommend before going out and buying anything, also check to see what the library or school might have on reserve for student use.

Moe Zhust

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 20
    • View Profile
Re: Study Aids/Commercial Outlines/Hornbooks/etc.
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2009, 02:17:44 PM »
I have a slightly different take on this.....

Wait to see what your professor's STYLE is like, not so much what he or she recommends.

If the prof is very clear about, say, teaching the rules, but you are not sure how all the pieces fit together, get "narrative" supplements that bring out the big picture, like Nutshells or the Insights and Concepts series.

If the prof talks broadly in class but leaves you mystified as to how to crystallize the rules, much less how to apply them, get commercial outlines.

The E&E series is OK but frustrating because you will not be sure, upon doing the questions, whether your prof has taught the specific point of law being tested.

Don't overlook the computer exercises at CALI.org which are free once you get a password, which your school may supply.

Avoid canned case briefs at all costs.

Basically, realize that different types of supplements meet different needs, and your needs for each class will be different depending on your interest in the topic/professor/learning style, etc.   Spend some time in the library (free) just sampling what's out there and what fits best for you.

Good luck