Questions about "hornbooks" and supplements

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Bigsby
Posts: 71
Joined: Sat Jan 15, 2011 2:03 pm

Questions about "hornbooks" and supplements

Postby Bigsby » Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:05 pm

Hey everyone,

Just about to start my 1L and just had some questions that I must have overlooked during my 0L summer. I'm a bit confused about the role of supplements and hornbooks. If my class professor wrote both the textbook and the supplement (or at least, was one of 3 authors or something), is it necessary to buy an extra supplement? I'm not entirely sure what the role of the supplement is. Do I buy one for each class?

Also, with respect to hornbooks, it seems that everyone recommends different things. Hornbooks seem to be a clarification book of some sort for whichever course you happen to be in. However, I've been researching a bunch on the forums and am still not quite sure what the role of the hornbook is either, not to mention what qualifies as a hornbook, how to use it, and stuff like that. I figure I want to order this stuff rather soon but if anyone can help point me in the right direction, I'd be VERY appreciative.

Thank you,
Bigsby

Gorki
Posts: 772
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:41 pm

Re: Questions about "hornbooks" and supplements

Postby Gorki » Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:57 pm

Bigsby wrote:Hey everyone,

Just about to start my 1L and just had some questions that I must have overlooked during my 0L summer. I'm a bit confused about the role of supplements and hornbooks. If my class professor wrote both the textbook and the supplement (or at least, was one of 3 authors or something), is it necessary to buy an extra supplement? I'm not entirely sure what the role of the supplement is. Do I buy one for each class?

Also, with respect to hornbooks, it seems that everyone recommends different things. Hornbooks seem to be a clarification book of some sort for whichever course you happen to be in. However, I've been researching a bunch on the forums and am still not quite sure what the role of the hornbook is either, not to mention what qualifies as a hornbook, how to use it, and stuff like that. I figure I want to order this stuff rather soon but if anyone can help point me in the right direction, I'd be VERY appreciative.

Thank you,
Bigsby

Rising 2L here.

1. Honestly, go with the supplement that your prof wrote... you will not impress them by spouting the Blackletter of some other academic (In fact this will piss them off and possibly out you as someone who is cruise-controlling the class w/supplement)... Exception to this being if both the text and supplement make no sense to you, and the E&E or w/e is crystal clear.

2. Even in classes where the prof outright states "You will not need a supplement for my class," I was able to coax a suggestion from them out of their offices hours. This may not be the case for all profs, but otherwise I would just do a search of your text's author on this site and see what others have had success with.


Hope this helps.

sknight323
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2010 3:39 am

Re: Questions about "hornbooks" and supplements

Postby sknight323 » Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:46 am

The best way to describe a hornbook is that it is a dumbed-down treatise. What is a treatise? Well, when you get to lawl school, you'll figure it out. A hornbook is basically a summary of the black-letter law (basic concepts you need in every course) written as if it was a textbook. If there was no casebook method, they would use hornbooks to teach you law. I think that is actually how it was before the casebook method. Hornbooks are good, but beware. They can be a little vague, and very dense. I would only turn to a hornbook if you really don't understand something or the E&E/other supplement is not detailed enough. Generally, you can get the black letter law well enough in an examples and explanations or other similar supplement. But it all really depends on your professor -- for ex., everyone raves about the Civil Procedure E&E, and deservedly so. However, it was not nearly detailed enough on personal jurisdiction for my class. We spent half the semester on personal jurisdiction and 50% of the exam was personal jurisdiction. If you used just the E&E, you would be screwed. A hornbook that discussed the different theories on stream of commerce personal jurisdiction would serve better, as opposed to an exam that was rule heavy, where the E&E (or insert generic supplement here) would work better.

You're in law school so it is a safe assumption that you are smart enough to figure out whether the supplement you have is adequate for what your professor is teaching. Sometimes, there is just nothing better than reading the cases your professor is teaching over and over and over.


USE THE SUPPLEMENT YOUR PROFESSOR WROTE. ABSOLUTELY. That is what your professor wants you to know -- not the way somebody else teaches it.


Here is how you use supplements and hornbooks, IMO.

First - read the cases. No matter what anybody says, outside of certain classes like con law, the cases will make the law seems more concrete than a supplement or hornbook.And your professor wants you to know them for a reason.

Second - The problem that 1Ls have is "bringing it all together." How do you do this? Find an old exam, but earlier in the semester its better to use practice problems from some outside supplement, like an E&E. Say you just learned about contract formation. You understand what an offer is. You understand what consideration is. You understand what acceptance is. You understand what estoppel is. Okay, now you have the tools to determine whether a contract has been formed or not (not withstanding the defenses to contract formation). Go to the contracts E&E or whatever supplement you have and look at the practice questions for contract formation and work through them. It will absolutely, 100% improve your grasp of the material. But you have to be sure you are doing this in the style your professor wants, so ignore the answers to the problems if they don't jive with what your prof. would say.

Third - Hornbooks - now say you just can't understand consideration. You've read the supplement on it. You've read the cases. Maybe you don't have time to go to your professors office hours... so grab a hornbook for contracts (Corbin and Williston are the famous ones for contracts; my prof recommended another so I used that). Read the chapter on consideration. It will be dense and provide much more information than you need to know, but it may clear up consideration for you. It will be written like a textbook describing what consideration is while citing some famous cases that do a good job of demonstrating how consideration works.


IMO, you should only turn to a hornbook when absolutely necessary. This does NOT apply for con law, though. There isn't much "black letter" law in con law, and it will be absolutely necessary to know the competing theories on everything that will come up if you want to do well. For that, you're going to need to absolutely get more complicated material than a regular supplement. So use Chemerinsky's book. Some may call it a supplement, but it's closer to a hornbook, although not truly a hornbook either.




I hope that helped you somewhat.

LSATNightmares
Posts: 535
Joined: Fri May 07, 2010 10:29 pm

Re: Questions about "hornbooks" and supplements

Postby LSATNightmares » Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:04 am

The above post is pretty good. It can all be certainly confusing and overwhelming at first. It's definitely good to wait and see what your professor is like before buying some hornbooks, otherwise you will spend a lot of money. I bought a lot of hornbooks, but I didn't use them a whole lot because time was at a premium during the second semester. However, I highly recommend buying the E&E series generally, because the key to getting a good grade is doing practice problems. The other hornbooks I would turn to if you don't understand a concept.

NavyLaw
Posts: 35
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 7:36 pm

Re: Questions about "hornbooks" and supplements

Postby NavyLaw » Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:06 pm

please excuse my ignorance, but what is an E&E?

User avatar
I.P. Daly
Posts: 920
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:27 pm

Re: Questions about "hornbooks" and supplements

Postby I.P. Daly » Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:09 pm

NavyLaw wrote:please excuse my ignorance, but what is an E&E?


A series of primers that are broken down by subject (property, contracts, torts, etc.). E&Es are divided by topics (e.g., offer, acceptance, consideration) with practice questions and answers. Some people find them to be extremely helpful, while others, not so much.

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Bigsby
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Joined: Sat Jan 15, 2011 2:03 pm

Re: Questions about "hornbooks" and supplements

Postby Bigsby » Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:27 pm

Wow, thank you so much guys. This has been very, very helpful. Yeah, 1L does seem a little daunting. Stuff that I seemed confident about before, once I crack open the books, I don't exactly feel so confident anymore that what I'm doing seems right. But thank you again so much. Clarification question though: you said Hornbooks make clear the 'black-letter law' but that in Con Law there isn't much black-letter law yet you recommended a hornbook, why is that? I'm still a little confused about hornbooks.

But E&E supplements seem good! I'm interested in at least browsing through them when I start my classes. Hopefully they will be relevant to what I'm being taught. I'll also ask my professors for possible supplements and hornbooks. For some reason, I thought they looked down on this practice. Hell, maybe some do. I guess I'll find out! Luckily some of my professors wrote the supplement to my course, so that should save me some $$$ unless I REALLY need some help.

I had some other questions, if you don't mind. This revolves around the idea of 'note-taking' before classes. When I'm doing the reading assignments that are assigned before the next class, how did you note-take? For me, I do briefs of the cases (similar to what is done in Talon's guide in the study guide post by Scribe), if there are any, and then just general notes on what I think is stuff I need to know cold. But, again, since I'm just starting I'm not entirely sure if I'm taking the best route (besides case briefing, my note-taking seems to be very reminiscent of standard 'undergraduate' procedures...already alarm bells are ringing). Does your note-taking style change according to the classes you're taking (most specifically Civil Procedure, Contracts, and Torts? :P ).

Thank you again! I just wanna make I'm not taking notes of the most random stuff. Things seem pretty obvious when it's a case actually but the other historical information (such as in civ pro, like history of the procedural system and whatnot), I'm not sure what really matters or not for classroom discussion/surviving getting called on, etc. I have a pretty good idea of what the exams are gonna be like and maybe this historical data may be necessary for analyzing purposes and whatnot, but this is mainly a question about note-taking for day-to-day classes.

Thanks again so so much! You have eased my anxiety considerably.

sknight323
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2010 3:39 am

Re: Questions about "hornbooks" and supplements

Postby sknight323 » Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:43 pm

Bigsby wrote:Wow, thank you so much guys. This has been very, very helpful. Yeah, 1L does seem a little daunting. Stuff that I seemed confident about before, once I crack open the books, I don't exactly feel so confident anymore that what I'm doing seems right. But thank you again so much. Clarification question though: you said Hornbooks make clear the 'black-letter law' but that in Con Law there isn't much black-letter law yet you recommended a hornbook, why is that? I'm still a little confused about hornbooks.

But E&E supplements seem good! I'm interested in at least browsing through them when I start my classes. Hopefully they will be relevant to what I'm being taught. I'll also ask my professors for possible supplements and hornbooks. For some reason, I thought they looked down on this practice. Hell, maybe some do. I guess I'll find out! Luckily some of my professors wrote the supplement to my course, so that should save me some $$$ unless I REALLY need some help.

I had some other questions, if you don't mind. This revolves around the idea of 'note-taking' before classes. When I'm doing the reading assignments that are assigned before the next class, how did you note-take? For me, I do briefs of the cases (similar to what is done in Talon's guide in the study guide post by Scribe), if there are any, and then just general notes on what I think is stuff I need to know cold. But, again, since I'm just starting I'm not entirely sure if I'm taking the best route (besides case briefing, my note-taking seems to be very reminiscent of standard 'undergraduate' procedures...already alarm bells are ringing). Does your note-taking style change according to the classes you're taking (most specifically Civil Procedure, Contracts, and Torts? :P ).

Thank you again! I just wanna make I'm not taking notes of the most random stuff. Things seem pretty obvious when it's a case actually but the other historical information (such as in civ pro, like history of the procedural system and whatnot), I'm not sure what really matters or not for classroom discussion/surviving getting called on, etc. I have a pretty good idea of what the exams are gonna be like and maybe this historical data may be necessary for analyzing purposes and whatnot, but this is mainly a question about note-taking for day-to-day classes.

Thanks again so so much! You have eased my anxiety considerably.


You will see that with con law, there just isn't much black better law to begin with. In contracts, it's generally accepted that offer + consideration/estoppel + acceptance = contract. Pretty much every 1L course in contract is going to teach you that. In con law, there are very, very grey areas. For instance, there are areas of con law where the law is not settled: there is not a majority supreme court case that decides the question. So you need to get the extra detail from a hornbook to understand the different theories.

The best way I can describe it is this way: In a class like contracts, you'll see that the elements exist for a contract to be formed. So what is your counter argument? A defense to contract formation. Maybe the contract was formed under duress, or there was a mistake made. These are legal argument that can invalidate a contract. These concepts are set in stone, pretty much. The concepts are somewhat simple enough that a hornbook should only be used when you really cannot grasp them otherwise.

In a class like con law, it will be more along the lines of "Using Justice Brennan's 10th amendment theory, this law is clearly constitutional because it was passed under the commerce clause." Now what's the counter argument? You argue a different theory of constitutional interpretation: "Using Justice Rehnquist's 10th amendment jurisprudence, however, the law does not pass muster because it interferes with activities traditionally reserved to the state."

You will quickly see that con law is worlds different than any other 1L class you take, so the hornbook is different, naturally. You may get a quick intro to con law if your professor in civ pro focuses heavily on jurisdiction, though (an issue decided by supreme court cases...one of the grayest areas of the law). In con law, it is necessary to understand the different theories for each type of issue. A hornbook allows you to do this because there aren't really any type of easy questions that can be asked like there is with black letter law classes.



Note taking is up to you. Whatever you're comfortable with. Writing down historical info may help you remember things better -- who knows. But certainly, the important stuff is the legal rule and understanding how it was applied.

Miller32
Posts: 131
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 1:51 pm

Re: Questions about "hornbooks" and supplements

Postby Miller32 » Thu Aug 16, 2012 11:10 am

I agree with most of what has been said here, just wanted to chime in about OP's comments about historical info. That stuff will probably matter when getting called on if it's in the reading material, but it will most likely NOT matter for the exam.

This varies a bit by school, but for the most part law schools exams are just about (1) knowing the black letter law, and, most importantly, (2) correctly applying the black letter law to the fact pattern you're given. This does not mean there is necessarily a "correct" answer, though. Most law school exams are designed to operate in a grey zone in between valid points. If you're correctly applying the law you should be able to argue both sides and come to a reasonable conclusion (even if other people can reasonably come to the opposite conclusion). Historical information, the majority of the time, is just not a part of that equation unless your professor explicitly says that it should be.

Sometimes you'll read old cases that are meant to show you the development of the law. This is helpful to understand the theory behind the current law, and to get the big picture of what's going on in the class. Hornbooks and supplement sort of operate the same way. They want to give you a broad understanding the subject matter, broken down by the different doctrines, so that you get the big picture. All of this can be very helpful depending on your learning style, but again, the vast majority of the time nothing matters except the black letter law and how you apply that law to the facts you're given.

quiksilver21af
Posts: 83
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:21 pm

Re: Questions about "hornbooks" and supplements

Postby quiksilver21af » Mon Aug 27, 2012 10:36 pm

I was wondering what you guys recommend for preparing for class in terms of reading casebooks and E&E's. For example the contracts E&E doesn't follow my Casebook too well, should I just read the E&E cover to cover alongside my casebook and not worry about the overlap? Or do are the E&E's for when you have banged out a substantial part of the casebook and want to test on what you have grasped?

LOLyer
Posts: 134
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2012 4:49 pm

Re: Questions about "hornbooks" and supplements

Postby LOLyer » Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:32 pm

I used these extensively, although I'm partial to treatises in the more complicated 1L classes (like contracts and property).

Basically: If you're like most people, you will not completely grasp every concept presented in everyone one of your classes every day. If you're like me, it's because you stopped paying attention for a few minutes, and by the time you tuned back in, the professor had moved on to a different topic. Supplements are useful for filling in the gaps in information that you missed in your notes, or that you might not understand, or (this is a big one) where your notes and your outlines conflict. They're also useful for fleshing out concepts that you may not grasp fully, or answer questions that pop into your mind that the professor didn't address in class.

hope that helps.




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