It's nothing Earth-shattering, but it's relevant and spoken by someone who did well.On Supplements -
These supplements are a racket designed to steal money from paranoid law students. You could spend all day plowing through these supplements without ever running out of stuff to read. The downside there is that you can get distracted and tangled up in the weeds overthinking things. For example, my Contracts class discussed the offer element in two cases. I could have spent hours and hours reading far beyond the various situations that create offers, but at the end of the day, my professor tested based on the rules of law discussed in those two cases. Had I spent all that time reading beyond his assigned reading, I would have wasted time and possibly screwed up that issue on the exam.
Some classes have supplements that are universal and famous at every school. Chemerinsky's Con Law book is one; Chirelstein's federal income tax book is another. Some, like these, are so well done that even professors point them out as great resources.
On Class -
Don't buy hornbooks. Yes, they look great on shelves, but you're not going to read them, and if you do want to turn to them for a nice description of something you're not understanding from your assigned cases, your library will have them. $200 on a book you turn to twice a semester is a total waste. But don't be afraid to look to them. They take all of the mystery out of a subject by removing the teaching through reading cases BS. They read like encyclopedia and can make a great intro to a topic if you're not getting it.
Brief your own cases; don't buy those prepackaged books. Seriously. It's a major asship and timesink, but do it. You won't do it after your first year, but you won't need to. Do it for your first year, and you won't regret it. Learning from cases is not natural. You're not being told, "A contract requires an offer. An offer is..." Instead, you're going to read a case where some situation is described and the court is left to decide whether an offer was made. Take the time to understand the facts of these cases because that's where all the exam money lies. If you can understand and remember those facts, then you can later explain why the situation described in your exam either does or does not match the facts of the case read for class. Any asshole can memorize and repeat the law of those cases. The A's will be able to say why something is or is not an offer after considering the facts presented. And you get more out of this shit by doing it yourself over reading someone else's brief of a case.
I'd say the real art is learning to identify which facts are important and which aren't. Cases are full of useless facts that help tell a story. I guess it didn't take me long to brief cases. I pretty much briefed them in my book as I read and then typed it up into Word. In all, typing them up didn't add on that much to the time I spent reading. Typing it up did help because it functioned a lot like a second reading and was where I narrowed it down to what was important.
And honestly, when it came time to make my outlines, all I'd do is copy and paste the case names, a one line reminder fact summary, and the holdings/law of the cases into an outline. By briefing as I went, 95% of my outlining was done.
Your exam won't be a summary. Your exam will often be one long fact pattern with a question or series of questions at the end. Some of the skill you learn by reading the cases is plowing through a lot of crap to find what's important. Within a month or so, you will read this stuff faster and you will be better at it.
Now, I did always ignore the stuff put before and after the cases in your casebook. You will be pissed off when you realize you are spending $120 a class on a casebook that is little more than a reproduction of cases that are free for anyone to reproduce. These books are terribly done. The editorial material is usually garbage. After each case, they pose a number of questions without ever answering them. Yes, you could bog yourself down in these very academic exercises, but that doesn't mean you should skip reading the case itself.