September 18, 2017

Law School Supplements Explained


Being a blogger is so weird sometimes. The other day I was getting into my car to go to work and I thought wow how have I never written a post about what people are talking about when they're referring to supplements? and so here we are! I'm going to cover all of the ones that I can think of, but if I miss something please comment below so that I can update this! I just want my readers to be the most in-the-know students 💁🏻


Outlines


Outlines are the #1 study method in law school and because of this, everyone you meet is going to have a different opinions on outlines. So here's mine— outlines you make > outlines you get from upperclassmen > commercial outlines. Outlines are very casebook and professor specific. Outlines you make are the best because you're going to have a shitton of information to memorize for your final, so by re-reading your notes and re-writing the rules you're actually reviewing and working on memorizing the information. Outlines from upperclassmen can be helpful but only if they've had your same professor and book. If your class doesn’t use a book then the outline to that book would be full of cases that you didn’t even read and missing on a lot of cases that you are expected to know. I even have friends who have offered me their outlines because we had the same book but because they had a different professor than me, I don’t even bother because for all I know, my professor really emphasized Chapter 21 because he thought it was important but her professor only assigned 10 pages from Ch. 21 because he didn’t think it was important. That’s another big reason of why I don’t trust commercial outlines.

If you’re stressing about outlines or just want a little guidance, the best thing that you can do is join a student organization. Ask before you join what outlines they have because a good one will have an outline for almost every from a student who at least got a B. That way you know you’re getting the relevant information. My advice to you so that you don’t end up with a C- in every class is that if you do get ahold of an outline, don’t just study that! The best way to use someone else’s outline is to print it out with you (preferably double space) and then fill it out during class with any information you think should be added. That way you have less notes to take during class and can focus on listening, but then still get a lot of information in your class. And then take that filled-out outline and use that along with your other in-class notes to make your own outline. 

I know a lot of new 1Ls stress about what an outline should even look like or how to structure them, so I've uploaded my Civ Pro outline for y'all to see as an example of what you can do. Mine tend to be bare-boned and just what I want to memorize, but I know a lot of other students feel like they benefit from having full sentences and more information in theirs. Also, if you read through this after you finish your own Civ Pro class, you’ll see what I mean about how it really helps to have the same book and same professor for an accurate outline. You can view my outline example here. But if you're still stressing, Quimbee's outlines that they just came out with look like they're very straightforward and I personally do trust this company. I also know that a lot of my classmates prefer to use the Emanuel's outlines to help them.

Related: How to turn your class notes into an outline


Scripts


Another thing that organizations sometimes have for upper level students is what’s referred to as a script which is basically a whole bunch of people got together and wrote down everything from that class, that you can use to follow along and build your own outline from. Those are more helpful once you’re a 2L/3L because then you can just read their 4 pages over chapter 1 instead of all 42 pages of chapter 1 and still get the main information.

I started using scripts that I was given this year and they definitely are a big help. I read them before class and then I'm prepared for questions that my professor might ask me (you never actually look forward to the Socratic method) and it allows me to be able to juggle preparing for class, working, and mediating. The one thing that I've learned since using these is don't think you won't need to take notes since you basically have what the professor's going to talk about. I still take notes just as if I didn't have the script or else it would be really hard for me to take all 220 pages of the script and turn it into an outline. Plus, it helps you pay attention in class because it can be extra tempting to zone out when you have the script right there.


Case briefs


Case briefs are another thing that are basically essential to survive in any law school class. The usefulness of these is that it forces you to pay attention as you're reading. The bad part is that they can take a really long time when you're having to stop what you're reading and write it down. I always say that for your first few months of law school, you really should be practicing your briefing skills because you will need these as an actual lawyer. But once you've practiced enough and really just need the briefs for the Socratic method, you can use commercial briefs. 

I personally recommend using Quimbee because that's what I've been using and I think their briefs are great. Quimbee will have subject-specific briefs. If their subject matches your subject, this is really helpful because it’ll cut out all the crap that you won’t need. They have all the major books and the only one they never got was because it was one that a professor from my own law school had written so they never got that. If Quimbee has your book, then you’ll be set and it’s amazing. Even if they don’t have your book, they might still have some of the cases. So like the book they didn’t have but then got was my contracts book but I would just search for the case and then sometimes they’d have it because it was in another contracts book. 

Related: Using Quimbee to help understand law school subjects

You do have to pay for Quimbee (put I seriously believe that you get what you pay for) but there's also Casebriefs (free) and Oyez (free). Oyez is just better than Casebriefs, but neither are subject-specific so you will get all the information. But both will give you the facts of the case and the issue and the holding. 


Practice problems


E&E stands for Examples and ExplanationsAll they are is practice problems and answers. The practice problems will really help you see how to best answer a question. And yes they're a "commercial supplement" but y'all my commercial law professor had us doing Bar prep questions as practice problems and I could easily tackle them because I remembered what the E&E had taught me. If you spend the majority of your time going through these practice problems, it will really help you understand your outline as your review it. When I study, I do about 50% practice problems, 30% memorizing flash cards, and 20% reviewing my outline. In my opinion, E&Es are right up there with outlines as far as what you have to be doing for finals. Another great practice problems options are the Q&A books. Either way, I strongly suggest you either buy some practice problem books or see if your library has any to rent. I'm not kidding when I say doing these practice problems will really help you prepare for the final and help with your timing. And if you're a 1L who has no clue what type of questions to expect on your final, these are pretty close to what you'll have.


Summaries 


Another thing that is common for people to use to study with as it gets closer to time to study for finals (which starts 6 weeks before dead day) are summaries. The reason for a summary is that you can read a quick condensed version of your class to refresh your memories. But also I know some students actually prefer to read these before class starts so that you know what you're going to learn. While I don't think this is necessary in any way, I can see how it will help calm your nerves a bit when you've already started tackling understanding the tough subjects, so it's totally up to you how extra you want to be. One of my friends had to miss about a total of 2 weeks throughout the semester because of a family illness and he used the Short and Happy books and got the exact same grade as me so even though I've never personally used a summary, apparently they can help. Another popular summaries brands are the CrunchTime books and Gilbert's Law Summaries.


Flashcards


Lastly (well of what I can think of) there's flashcards. I like to make flashcards on Quizlet of the rule with the elements on the back or the case name with the rule on the back. But I know that one thing that's really popular for 1Ls are commercial flashcards like Law in a Flash. Commercial flashcards usually go beyond what I put on mine and even have hypothetical questions with the answers on the back. The only downside to this is that they don't have explanations for why the answer is right quite like E&E or Q&A books do. But they're great to review with either on weekends or at the beginning of studying for finals. 

4 comments:

  1. I think you are absolutely right about the fact that outlines you make yourself are the best ones. I sometimes use outlines from upperclassmates, but they aren't exactly the way I like it or lack Information of what I think of as important. I usually only use them as an additional source of Information in a compact format.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly! I'm too paranoid to fully trust someone else's outline and too paranoid that I won't be able to memorize the rules or whatever completely so I just use it as a comparison to make sure mine's not too off!

      Delete
  2. Thank you so much for this post, definitely looking over your Civil Procedure Outline!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope it helps more than it hurts haha I feel like maybe it should come with a disclosure that there's no guarantee that the information is right, but I guess that's just the future lawyer in me wanting to make caveats haha. But you're going to do great making your outlines!

      Delete

Follow