Around this time of year, the library fills with 1Ls who are dreading their first law school exams. (Upper-class students are also not immune to this end-of-semester anxiety, even though they have a better idea of what to expect.) During the last week of classes, we're devoting the Goodson Blogson to library tips for exam success. Check back each day for a new tip.
Tip #3. Complete Your Outlines...with a Little HelpStill confused about consideration? Puzzled by the Rule Against Perpetuities? Fill in your course outline gaps by consulting some subject-specific study guides. The library purchases a number of book series which are designed to help law students understand the concepts in a particular area of law. Perennial favorites:
- Examples and Explanations Series: This series of books, published by Aspen, are written by law professors and are great exam preparation aids. The books give a narrative overview of key concepts and rules followed by "examples" (hypothetical questions) and "explanations" (answers to the questions). In the online catalog, search the title keyword [your subject] and examples and explanations to retrieve the volumes on a particular topic and their locations in the library.
- Hornbooks: These books are written especially for law students and review specific areas of law in a summary, narrative form. They are thorough, but not exhaustive. The primary producer of hornbooks, West, has now divided its hornbooks into two editions: Practitioner's and Student's. The practitioner's edition usually contains additional chapters which discuss practice-oriented issues not normally of interest to students. The library usually has both versions in the Reserves collection.
- Mastering... Series: These slim volumes provide a quick overview of a specific area of law, with minimal footnotes. They are available on a variety of law school course topics and can be located in the catalog with a title keyword search for “mastering [subject]”; e.g. mastering contracts.
- Nutshell Series: These books contain a comprehensive outline of a specific area of the law, usually written by a noted authority on the subject. They provide a big-picture look at the law and avoid in-depth analysis. They contain fewer footnotes and references than hornbooks, but generally give greater coverage of a subject than commercial study guides. The most current Nutshells are in the Reserves collection, organized by the author’s last name.
- Understanding... Series: Published by LexisNexis on a variety of legal topics, this series can be found with a title keyword search of the catalog for “understanding [subject]”; e.g. understanding criminal law. The Understanding series contain an overview of an area of law, with footnotes to primary sources for further reading.