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Author Topic: Commercial Outlines/Hornbooks  (Read 647 times)

kennedyposter

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Commercial Outlines/Hornbooks
« on: May 24, 2009, 10:29:47 AM »
So I have nothing to do this summer...and I don't plan on "studying" for law school (I'm starting this Fall) but I want to at least have in my mind a plan of action for when I do get into study mode. These may be dumb questions but I've heard so much talk of commercial outlines and hornbooks. What are they? Where do I get them? Which ones should I get? When should I get them? What do I do with them when I get them? Thanks.

I am the Lorax

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Re: Commercial Outlines/Hornbooks
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2009, 03:21:37 PM »
It's pointless to think about or get commercial outlines before you know (a) which classes you have your 1st semester, and (b) which book you have. 

Commercial outlines are basically notes on your specific case book.  They're a total waste of money, IMO.  Better to take your own notes--your professor will have his/her own ideas of what's important/what to notice and, in the case of my contracts professor, whether the court was even right in its decision and what the rule actually is.

Please, please, please don't even think about study mode yet.  You have months until law school starts--enjoy your last summer.  I guarantee you won't have this much free time again for awhile (including your 1L summer).  But law school isn't a one-size-fits-all scenario where you really can plan in advance.  Just prepare to be flexible and adapt as necessary once you start.

santropez

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Re: Commercial Outlines/Hornbooks
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2009, 06:05:53 PM »
So I have nothing to do this summer...and I don't plan on "studying" for law school (I'm starting this Fall) but I want to at least have in my mind a plan of action for when I do get into study mode. These may be dumb questions but I've heard so much talk of commercial outlines and hornbooks. What are they? Where do I get them? Which ones should I get? When should I get them? What do I do with them when I get them? Thanks.

Like the previous poster said, you should focus on taking good notes in your classes and creating your own outline based on those notes.  That being said, I've found it helpful to use supplements/outlines in classes that are particularly confusing or when I need to fill in gaps in my notes.  You can usually get pretty cheap, used versions of these books at Amazon marketplace.  You can also get them at your law school bookstore but they'll be more expensive.

I'll try to explain what the different types of supplements are:

Hornbooks are large treatises that provide in-depth explanations of certain areas of law.  They're supplements to the primary casebooks you'll use for your classes.  I personally have never used one and I don't think they're particularly helpful.  As far as I can tell, they're largely a relic of the past that most students don't use anymore. 

Commercial outlines are detailed summaries of the legal concepts you'll study in your 1L classes.  In form, they replicate the type of outlines that many students create for each of their classes.  They're helpful when you don't understand what a concept is or how it fits into the big picture of the course.  The downside, of course, is that every prof teaches things a little bit differently, so what's in the outline might not be what your prof wants.  Some popular brands include: Emmanuel, Gilberts, and Black Letter Law. 

I suppose another subset of supplements is the Examples and Explanations series.  I found these books to be the most helpful.  They basically provide short summaries of areas of law (with some case explanation) and then a series of examples to test your understanding.

The only supplement that I'm sure you will use (as most 1Ls do) is Glannon's Examples and Explanations on Civil Procedure.  I learned Civ Pro from this book, and if you want to go ahead and buy it then I don't think it would hurt.  Other than that, stop worrying about law school and go get drunk.  Enjoy your summer, NOW!   


USC313

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Re: Commercial Outlines/Hornbooks
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2009, 06:23:46 PM »
People have different opinions on the utility of hornbooks/outlines/supplements. Personally I have found them useful in certain courses because they have been written with the beginning law student in mind. That is to say, most of the opinions you'll read in a your case book were written by judges for lawyers (and their clients, of course). Therefore, there is an assumption of a certain amount of background legal knowledge with regard to the area of law your reading about. Many cases will not neatly spell out or provide some black letter legal rule for you--and your left to your own devices and your professor's ability to teach to decipher any material you struggle with. For many students, this is fine. I've found that by reading supplemental material prior to the actual cases (i.e. being an active reader) it provides you with some basic and insightful background information that allows you understand/comprehend/and apply the case book material better. Granted this take up more of your study time--so part of it depends on your study habits and how devoted you are to actually learning the material.

As an aside, many law students recommend--and I agree--that Glannon's "Examples and Explanations" (E&E) for 1st year Civil Procedure is highly useful. Once your on campus you likely see many of your fellow classmates picking it up.

Advocate

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Re: Commercial Outlines/Hornbooks
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2009, 01:34:22 PM »
Actually, there is one book you should read this summer: "Mastering the Law School Exam" by Suzanne Darrow-Kleinhaus.

Good writing makes a big difference on law school exams.  The profs have to grade dozens of exams, and then curve them based on small differences in quality. You definitely want your exams to be as clear as possible.  Anyway, that's something content-neutral that you could work on over the summer.