If I might offer a partially concurring and partially dissenting opinion:
As I make final preparations for 1L to start (just two more months), I am curious which commercial outlines people recommend? Where do you get them? Amazon?
Any feedback would be appreciated.
1: Take notes in class and read the cases for at least the first couple months.
Either do not take notes, or take notes SPARINGLY.
Notes are an almost complete waste of time when studying for a law exam. They’re also quite distracting in class when you’re supposed to be doing something else . . . something else rather more important. (Hint: it’s not learning law.)
Okay . . .
For those thinking I must be insane (which is not ordinarily a bad guess), the parenthetical should shock you. And it should shock you further because it's true. Here's the punchline: The law school classroom is not to learn the law. Rather, it is to learn how to apply law you have already taught yourself
. This is why the techniques so commonly used (notes, color-coding, sharing outlines) are also so ineffective or even counterproductive.
2: Don't rely too heavily on commercial case briefs. They are good in a pinch, but they don't help you study for the final very well.
3: Make friends with someone (or join a club or something) that has access to some outlines from prior years. These are huge. The best way to use them is to have one with you in class and actually take notes on the outline.
Do your own outlines. In fact, you should do two.
IF you use someone else’s outlines, those are useful when used instead of notes.
But nothing substitutes for getting the law into your head, and the law IS in outline format.
4: Pay specific attention to which topics the professor spends time on. Commercial outlines are really good (sometimes better than a professor) but you won't get any points if you go off on tangents that weren't covered in your class.
5: If you are sure you will be using BarBri to study for the bar after law school, you can save on the book deposit by signing up during your first year. They have some awesome commercial outlines for all of your first year subjects, and they give them to you when you make your deposit.. I discovered this too late. A barbri rep will be hounding you when you start school, and they can answer your questions.
Yes, and despite the many things that might be written about these prep services, they’re extremely useful, and are worth it. They can also be good for first-year review.
If you do exceptionally well, you can even get someone else to pay for it. = : )
6: If your library has access to the CALI stuff (Computer assisted legal instruction) you should give them a try. They run you through the material, ask multiple choice questions, and explain the rules and the answers. I thought they were very helpful.
Excellent, excellent advice.
7: Use bookfinder4u.com to help you find the best price. It usually searches all the major bookstores and gives you links. (I use half and amazon most of the time)
While clearly it’s good to use sources tied to specific casebooks, the truth is that it really doesn’t matter. You could even use a secondary source from 1972 and get 92.5% of the value out of it. And, yes, this applies even in, say, Con Law, where quite a number of rules have changed. Why? The answer to that question is the answer to why so many first-year students have such a frustrating time: once you know where the law has come from and where it is now, you’ll have a deep sense of how lawyers think. THAT is what is needed (and rewarded) come exam time.
Best of luck, and enjoy first year! (Seriously.)