Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Secrets of a Successful Semester

It's only a few weeks into the new semester, but maybe you’re already feeling confused by a tricky legal concept or a hard-to-parse holding. Don’t ignore it until you’re making your final-exam outlines - take a look at some study aids! Before you drop a fortune on flash cards and commercial outlines, visit the Goodson Law Library for some of the most popular study aids around:

  • Examples and Explanations Series: Titles in this series are written by law professors who give a narrative overview of the key concepts and rules for a particular subject, followed by "examples" (hypothetical questions) and “explanations” of the answers. Search the catalog for title keywords "examples and explanations" to retrieve a list of all available titles. Current editions are available on Reserve, with older editions available for longer checkout in the Stacks. (Did a classmate beat you to the title you needed? Note that many of these titles are also available in “Preview” mode on Google Books.)
  • Hornbooks: These one-volume books are written especially for law students and summarize specific areas of law in a narrative form. Most hornbooks are available in two editions: Practitioner's and Student's. The practitioner's edition usually contains additional chapters which discuss practical issues, such as preparing for trial. The library usually has the current edition of both versions in the Reserves collection; previous editions are available in the Stacks.
  • Mastering... Series: These slim volumes provide a basic overview of a specific area of law, with minimal footnotes. They are available on most law school course subjects, shelved in the Stacks alongside other works on the topic, and their locations can be found in the catalog with a title keyword search for “mastering [subject]”.
  • Nutshell Series: These pocket-sized books contain a comprehensive outline of a specific subject, usually written by a noted authority. Nutshells 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 outlines. The most current Nutshells are in the Reserves collection.
  • Q&A series: Books in this series provide a review of legal subjects using a multiple-choice and short-answer question format. The library owns selected titles, particularly in subject areas where multiple-choice exams are commonplace. To locate available titles, conduct a title keyword search for "questions and answers and [subject]". (A similar multiple-choice approach is taken in the Glannon Guides, which are also available in the library’s collection for selected subjects.)
  • 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]". The Understanding series contain an overview of an area of law, with footnotes to primary sources for further reading.

For those who prefer a more interactive approach to studying, don’t forget about CALI lessons – the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction offers online tutorials on more than 800 legal topics. You can pick up a CALI CD at the library service desk, or request a registration code for the online versions from the Reference Desk or online with your NetID. Beginning this semester, students are able to save their progress in online lessons in order to resume them later. See the CALI FAQ for details, or Ask a Librarian to recommend study aids for your topic.