What is the consensus on supplements?

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GarnerB
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What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby GarnerB » Tue May 09, 2017 12:47 am

Useful for 1L or no? If yes, which supplements are recommended? This whole thing is a bit overwhelming, with E+Es, Glannon's Guides, Hornbooks, etc. The last thread on this topic was created a few years back. Interested to know whether there've been any changes since (either in thoughts on usefulness or in supplement recommendations).

Thanks y'all!

acr
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby acr » Tue May 09, 2017 12:59 am

GarnerB wrote:Useful for 1L or no? If yes, which supplements are recommended? This whole thing is a bit overwhelming, with E+Es, Glannon's Guides, Hornbooks, etc. The last thread on this topic was created a few years back. Interested to know whether there've been any changes since (either in thoughts on usefulness or in supplement recommendations).

Thanks y'all!


Yes, they can be useful for 1L. But it is entirely possible to do well without cracking open a supplement at all. Some students rely on supplements more heavily than others.

In terms of which specific supplements to recommend, it depends on the person and professor. Some professors construct their classes/notes directly from a supplement, in which case you should use that supplement. Some students prefer applying the law through practice problems, in which case the E&E's are great. Others prefer a simple distillation of the black letter law. It just depends. At the end of the day what's important is understanding the material taught in class.

I personally liked the "Acing" series (Acing Contracts, Acing Civil Procedure, etc.) because they provided a simple, broad overview of the subject and gave me a framework to work with. Understanding Crim is typically popular for Crim, and Chemerinsky is popular for Con Law. I thought Glannon was great for Torts, and Understanding Property was good for Property. Again, this depends on the professor. Relying on Chemerinsky would have been a disaster for my Con Law class.

It sounds like you are starting in the fall and worried about supplements. I would wait until a few weeks into the semester to even let supplements cross your mind. In my experience, most professors touched on the subject of supplements, recommended specific supplements, or listed supplement recommendations on the syllabus.

HonestAdvice
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby HonestAdvice » Tue May 09, 2017 1:28 am

You can get older editions used. Outside of con law, the doctrinal class law doesn't change much. The worst case scenario is you waste a few hundred dollars. If it's the difference between an A- vs a B+ in one class, it's already worth it. You'll be able to know what works for you, and doesn't almost immediately. Supplements are often seen as something you buy if you're lost, but in some classes they're a much more time efficient and effective way to learn material than doing the reading.

bceagle_4
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby bceagle_4 » Tue May 09, 2017 8:05 am

I will swear by Glannon's Civ Pro supplement. It taught me the entire course. Makes difficult topics like personal jurisdiction and Erie understandable. Also, almost every single professor I've had has recommended a supplement to use. Listen to them. Odds are, if they tell you to use it that is because they themselves have a copy and are using it to help teach (i.e. my crim professor would have photocopied pages of Dressler for his lectures instead of our casebook). But again, it really is whatever works best for you. I know people who got straight A's without using a supplement. I also know people who didn't do that hot and used every supplement under the sun. Just varies.

dabigchina
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby dabigchina » Tue May 09, 2017 9:20 am

Outside of Chemerinsky, I don't think they're that useful. Freer was ok for JX in Civ Pro.

GarnerB
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby GarnerB » Thu May 11, 2017 8:07 pm

acr wrote:
Yes, they can be useful for 1L. But it is entirely possible to do well without cracking open a supplement at all. Some students rely on supplements more heavily than others.

In terms of which specific supplements to recommend, it depends on the person and professor. Some professors construct their classes/notes directly from a supplement, in which case you should use that supplement. Some students prefer applying the law through practice problems, in which case the E&E's are great. Others prefer a simple distillation of the black letter law. It just depends. At the end of the day what's important is understanding the material taught in class.

I personally liked the "Acing" series (Acing Contracts, Acing Civil Procedure, etc.) because they provided a simple, broad overview of the subject and gave me a framework to work with. Understanding Crim is typically popular for Crim, and Chemerinsky is popular for Con Law. I thought Glannon was great for Torts, and Understanding Property was good for Property. Again, this depends on the professor. Relying on Chemerinsky would have been a disaster for my Con Law class.

It sounds like you are starting in the fall and worried about supplements. I would wait until a few weeks into the semester to even let supplements cross your mind. In my experience, most professors touched on the subject of supplements, recommended specific supplements, or listed supplement recommendations on the syllabus.


Wow, this is a great comment. Thank you so much for your amazing insight!

I realized I left out a great deal of otherwise important information. I have two goals. First, to learn the black letter law. Second, to be able to apply it to a fact pattern. To my knowledge, however incomplete it may be, the Examples and Explanations series would be the best for that, correct?

Another thing to keep in mind: I strongly prefer something that would provide a multidimensional view of the BLL and its evolution (e.g., historical background, philosophical context, etc.). It'd be much easier for the BLL to 'stick' with me if I have the aforementioned context. Rather than learning the BLL as a series of rules to be memorized, I want to learn it how it evolved from the caselaw or what policy debates informed the formulation of its statutes, all that jazz.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again!

GarnerB
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby GarnerB » Thu May 11, 2017 8:16 pm

HonestAdvice wrote:You can get older editions used. Outside of con law, the doctrinal class law doesn't change much. The worst case scenario is you waste a few hundred dollars. If it's the difference between an A- vs a B+ in one class, it's already worth it. You'll be able to know what works for you, and doesn't almost immediately. Supplements are often seen as something you buy if you're lost, but in some classes they're a much more time efficient and effective way to learn material than doing the reading.


This is exactly what I'm looking for. The advice I've received from friends who have been through law school is unanimous: Do NOT waste time briefing cases; rather, take as many mock exams as you can. But, in order to take these mock exams, I need to learn the black letter law from some source. Hence, why I'm asking TLS where I should start. I don't even know what "the hornbooks" are :(

GarnerB
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby GarnerB » Thu May 11, 2017 8:34 pm

It seems like the following are among the most popular textbook-like supplements:

(1) Examples and Explanations
(2) Crunchtime
(3) Glannon Guides
(4) Understanding Series

Which series would y'all say confers the greatest advantage to those hoping to learn the black letter law and how to apply it?

Any insight is appreciated!

cavalier1138
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby cavalier1138 » Thu May 11, 2017 8:37 pm

GarnerB wrote:This is exactly what I'm looking for. The advice I've received from friends who have been through law school is unanimous: Do NOT waste time briefing cases; rather, take as many mock exams as you can. But, in order to take these mock exams, I need to learn the black letter law from some source. Hence, why I'm asking TLS where I should start. I don't even know what "the hornbooks" are :(


If the advice you're receiving from friends isn't something along the lines of "Do what works best for you," then your friends are well-intentioned, but they're giving you bad advice. Stop panicking. There's no point in even cracking a book, let alone a supplement (if you find you want to use them), until you've started 1L. And you don't want to take mock exams until near the end of the semester. You especially don't want to take generic mock exams.

You will learn the black letter law from your professors. Supplements can be used to fill gaps in your understanding, but you shouldn't immediately rely on them before you get a few weeks of classes under your belt.

You're going to get a lot of advice from all angles. Whenever someone tries to give you a tip, just politely ask them how they did in their classes. If their answer isn't "above median", then assume that they aren't going to be very helpful.

mercymainbtw
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby mercymainbtw » Thu May 11, 2017 8:38 pm

I thought the e&es were good. You can usually find them used for fairly cheap

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WamBamThankYouMaam
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby WamBamThankYouMaam » Thu May 11, 2017 9:31 pm

Kind of old, but might still be of use: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=194417

GarnerB
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby GarnerB » Thu May 11, 2017 9:57 pm

WamBamThankYouMaam wrote:Kind of old, but might still be of use: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=194417


Haha, thank you so much for the link. That thread was precisely the reason why I created this thread. I thought the consensus was EEs + Hornbooks, until I saw OP in that thread listing almost every supplement under the sun. I like to keep things simple, so I think I'm going to stick with the old consensus and go the route of EEs + Hornbooks. At this point, I'm just wondering whether the hornbooks have changed? But where would I be able to find a list of those damned hornbooks?! So frustrating!

Dante181
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby Dante181 » Thu May 11, 2017 11:20 pm

The Richard Freer Civil Procedure supplement, Understanding Criminal Law by Joshua Dressler, the Chemerinsky Con Law supplement, and the Farnsworth Contracts hornbook were all very helpful for me for those classes. Freer and Chemerinsky in particular are godsends.

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unsweetened
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby unsweetened » Fri May 12, 2017 12:48 am

Supps are a waste of money IMO

You can go to the study aids section of Westlaw and access plenty of hornbooks for free
Your law library should have copies of everything in the E&E series
I would suggest getting outlines from students who previously took the class with that professor. Old outlines are 100x better than E&Es.

If you MUST get supps, I would suggest asking your professor or a 2L/3L who had the same professor you have. It's hard to make any valuable recommendations beyond suggesting something along the lines that the most helpful hornbooks are the ones that are keyed to your text book (check the author).

cavalier1138
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby cavalier1138 » Fri May 12, 2017 6:12 am

GarnerB wrote:
WamBamThankYouMaam wrote:Kind of old, but might still be of use: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=194417


Haha, thank you so much for the link. That thread was precisely the reason why I created this thread. I thought the consensus was EEs + Hornbooks, until I saw OP in that thread listing almost every supplement under the sun. I like to keep things simple, so I think I'm going to stick with the old consensus and go the route of EEs + Hornbooks. At this point, I'm just wondering whether the hornbooks have changed? But where would I be able to find a list of those damned hornbooks?! So frustrating!


Dude. Calm down.

Why are you ignoring all the posters telling you that it's way too early to know if you'll even want to review supplements, let alone which ones you should be using?

GarnerB
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby GarnerB » Fri May 12, 2017 8:20 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:Dude. Calm down.

Why are you ignoring all the posters telling you that it's way too early to know if you'll even want to review supplements, let alone which ones you should be using?


Because I don't want to beat the dead horse of 0L Prep. See yourself out of my thread, and thank you very much for your contributions.

cavalier1138
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby cavalier1138 » Fri May 12, 2017 9:15 pm

GarnerB wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:Dude. Calm down.

Why are you ignoring all the posters telling you that it's way too early to know if you'll even want to review supplements, let alone which ones you should be using?


Because I don't want to beat the dead horse of 0L Prep. See yourself out of my thread, and thank you very much for your contributions.


So when you asked whether supplements were useful, what you meant was, "Please validate my life choices, because I already want to psych myself out over nothing before even going to my first class." Cool. Good luck with the E&Es, that's how everyone at the top of the class studies. Guarantee it.

GarnerB
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby GarnerB » Fri May 12, 2017 9:33 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
So when you asked whether supplements were useful, what you meant was, "Please validate my life choices, because I already want to psych myself out over nothing before even going to my first class." Cool. Good luck with the E&Es, that's how everyone at the top of the class studies. Guarantee it.


Why are you so butthurt? I've read numerous 1L guides (among them: Arrow's, Wahoo1L's, JayCutlersCombover"s, xeoh85's, mscarn23's, NYU1L's). I've read the arguments against 1L prep. I've weighed the pros and cons. I thought about what path would benefit me. I've arrived at a carefully reasoned decision. I don't have to explain this to you, nor do I have the time to do so--some of us actually work busy jobs in the real world. Why are you wasting your own time trying to convince me otherwise?

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Wild Card
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby Wild Card » Fri May 12, 2017 10:27 pm

I found Chemerinsky helpful for wrapping my head around the conlaw material, but I relied on my class notes to make my attack outline.

I used Miller's Sum+Substance CD set for civpro and drew up an attack outline with it. I just discovered Acing Civil Procedure and wish that I'd had used it.

I found the E&Es useless, but it really depends on where you go to school and how you're tested.

GarnerB
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby GarnerB » Sat May 13, 2017 3:30 pm

unsweetened wrote:Supps are a waste of money IMO

You can go to the study aids section of Westlaw and access plenty of hornbooks for free
Your law library should have copies of everything in the E&E series
I would suggest getting outlines from students who previously took the class with that professor. Old outlines are 100x better than E&Es.

If you MUST get supps, I would suggest asking your professor or a 2L/3L who had the same professor you have. It's hard to make any valuable recommendations beyond suggesting something along the lines that the most helpful hornbooks are the ones that are keyed to your text book (check the author).


Thanks for the reply! Still trying to wrap my head around this, so forgive me if I come across as an idiot.

Old outlines are preferable to the E&Es because they more likely to list the relevant BLL that your professor will test you on? Whereas the E&Es may list everything under the sun, the old outlines list a much more narrow category of things.

There's also predictive value in old outlines insofar as something your professor taught for the past 4 years, consecutively, is something that will likely show up on your exam? If this is the case, then, it seems like 1Ls would be well-advised to choose professors who have taught for a long time since there's more longitudinal data to work with, and, hence, a greater degree of predictive accuracy for what's going to be on the exam.

So, the most prudent course of action for someone like myself would be (1) to take professors who have taught at the institution I'm attending for a long time (or who have otherwise taught long enough for students to post old outlines; FWIW "length of teaching" may not be the best proxy for quantity and completeness of old outlines), (2) learn the BLL that I'll most likely be tested on, and (3) practice examsmanship-related skills. Yes?

GarnerB
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby GarnerB » Sat May 13, 2017 3:41 pm

Dante181 wrote:The Richard Freer Civil Procedure supplement, Understanding Criminal Law by Joshua Dressler, the Chemerinsky Con Law supplement, and the Farnsworth Contracts hornbook were all very helpful for me for those classes. Freer and Chemerinsky in particular are godsends.


Thanks for the reply, Dante181! Also heard great things about Chemerinsky ConLaw! I'm curious whether you read through the E&Es CivPro? It's earned such high praise here on TLS, just wondering how it would stack up against the Freer CivPro.

ernie
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby ernie » Sat May 13, 2017 4:41 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:If the advice you're receiving from friends isn't something along the lines of "Do what works best for you," then your friends are well-intentioned, but they're giving you bad advice.

Yeah this. There's no consensus right approach to law school.

agnes_bean
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby agnes_bean » Sat May 13, 2017 4:58 pm

Old outlines are preferable to the E&Es because they more likely to list the relevant BLL that your professor will test you on?.

Not the person who originally gave this advice, but IMO the value of old outlines is not that they will clue you into what your prof will test on, but that they a) keep you focused on the cases the prof cares about (which can change some from year to year, but normally not by a lot), and more importantly b) keep you focused on the themes and takeaways your prof finds important. Even in the most black letter/case centric classes, every prof brings their own flavor to the material. For instance, my Contracts prof really cared about Law and Econ, and every halfway decent outline for his class included his thoughts on why certain decisions were right/wrong from that POV. While I guess one could do decently on his exam without really absorbing that stuff and just getting the black letter spot on, I am sure it was impossible to do REALLY well without being able to talk about it. A supplement wouldn’t necessarily teach you that.

There's also predictive value in old outlines insofar as something your professor taught for the past 4 years, consecutively, is something that will likely show up on your exam?

I’d say the best predictor of what will show up on an exam is old exams, not old outlines. Some profs won’t test on certain parts of the subject even if they teach it every year, and that’s easier to tell from old exams than from outlines, since people tend to outline the entire course regardless. Fortunately, many profs will give you example exams, and many schools have an archive of old exams. As you’ll learn, some profs will basically test on the same thing every year, which will help guide your studying come exam time. Others will vary it up a LOT, so you’ll have to make sure you have all the material down cold. It just depends.

So, the most prudent course of action for someone like myself would be (1) to take professors who have taught at the institution I'm attending for a long time (or who have otherwise taught long enough for students to post old outlines; FWIW "length of teaching" may not be the best proxy for quantity and completeness of old outlines), (2) learn the BLL that I'll most likely be tested on, and (3) practice examsmanship-related skills. Yes?

1) At most law schools 1Ls have little to no choice over which profs they take. If you do happen to have some choice (I had a couple of electives) I wouldn’t make that choice based on length of teaching time alone. For one thing, while old outlines/exams can be very helpful, having access to them is not a be-all, end-all of exam taking; other factors will matter a lot more. The toughest exam I took my 1L year was from the prof who had been teaching at my school the longest -- I had access to all sorts of old outlines, old exams, and old exam answers for him. I also used one of the recommended supplements. None of that could change the fact that the man just writes very difficult exams.

Second, unless the prof is brand new, there is really no way to know which classes will end up having amazing outlines floating around somewhere. The most useful outline I got my hands on all of 1L was for a relatively young visiting prof -- all it took was one person from the year before writing a great outline (and then one person from my school finding and circulating it) for my studying to become 100x easier. No way to predict that.

2) Yep, obviously focusing on learning BLL is important. FWIW, I found I did this best through reading the cases, not the supplements (didn’t tend to use those until exam period). I read everything, but didn’t brief, and did pretty well (~top 10%) my 1L year. OTOH, the most successful person I know at law school (I am talking very top of the class at a top school, total superstar) briefed everything and swears by it. So while I am totally on the “you don’t NEED to brief” school of thought, I agree with the people above who say you shouldn’t take your friends’ word for it either -- you’ll figure out what works for you once you start taking classes. Take the actual reading of cases seriously, whether that means briefing them or not, at least at first. If you figure out learning from the supplements is better for you, fine, but there is (generally) real value from reading the cases. (Honestly, I would TRY briefing cases for at least the first week. I quickly figured out it didn’t work for me; my friend obviously found it very useful. You won’t know where you fall until you do it.)

3) I can’t over emphasize enough: “examsmanship-related skills” aren’t really a thing in a vacuum. Other than I guess working on being a fast typer, there isn’t a lot that will apply across exams. Even doing issues spotters is going to vary a lot from prof-to-prof--some profs make tricky fact patterns where spotting the issue at all is really difficult, others will be more obvious about what you should be addressing and the question will be how well you apply the law. If you’re going to practice exams, practice exams from your actual prof. (I do think practice exams are key to doing well, but generally I don’t think they are that useful until you have at least a chunk of the course under your belt.)

Final thought: FWIW, I did love both the Freer Civ Pro and Chemerinsky Con Law supplements; you probably can’t go wrong with those. But I also agree with people that for most courses, waiting to hear what your prof recommends is the best bet. Most useful supplement I ever used was one my prof had written himself, for the obvious reason that it was totally tailored to what he was teaching us, and I knew that what was written there was how he understands the subject, so I didn’t have to filter what I was learning in the supplement through a different lens.
Last edited by agnes_bean on Sat May 13, 2017 5:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Dante181
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby Dante181 » Sat May 13, 2017 5:09 pm

GarnerB wrote:
Dante181 wrote:The Richard Freer Civil Procedure supplement, Understanding Criminal Law by Joshua Dressler, the Chemerinsky Con Law supplement, and the Farnsworth Contracts hornbook were all very helpful for me for those classes. Freer and Chemerinsky in particular are godsends.


Thanks for the reply, Dante181! Also heard great things about Chemerinsky ConLaw! I'm curious whether you read through the E&Es CivPro? It's earned such high praise here on TLS, just wondering how it would stack up against the Freer CivPro.


I thought the E&E for Civ Pro was pretty good. I think Freer is better and there's an error in the E&E regarding the Erie Doctrine (specifically about how to analyze conflicts between federal statutes and state law), but it was definitely helpful for me. I also liked the Glannon Guide for Civ Pro--the multiple choice questions were nice review when it got close to exams.

GarnerB
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby GarnerB » Sat May 13, 2017 6:46 pm

Not the person who originally gave this advice, but IMO the value of old outlines is not that they will clue you into what your prof will test on, but that they a) keep you focused on the cases the prof cares about (which can change some from year to year, but normally not by a lot), and more importantly b) keep you focused on the themes and takeaways your prof finds important.


Excellent insight!

Even in the most black letter/case centric classes, every prof brings their own flavor to the material. [...] A supplement wouldn’t necessarily teach you that.


Agreed. I'm mainly looking to supplements to build a foundational understanding of the BLL--just enough to where I can begin taking mock exams. Once I'm in law school, I'll do my best to understand my professors' individual nuances on the material.

I’d say the best predictor of what will show up on an exam is old exams, not old outlines. [...] As you’ll learn, some profs will basically test on the same thing every year, which will help guide your studying come exam time. Others will vary it up a LOT, so you’ll have to make sure you have all the material down cold. It just depends.


You're 100% correct. Apologies for the short-sightedness. The predictive value of an outline is, in large part, superseded by old exams.

2) Yep, obviously focusing on learning BLL is important. FWIW, I found I did this best through reading the cases, not the supplements (didn’t tend to use those until exam period). I read everything, but didn’t brief, and did pretty well (~top 10%) my 1L year. OTOH, the most successful person I know at law school (I am talking very top of the class at a top school, total superstar) briefed everything and swears by it. [...] Take the actual reading of cases seriously, whether that means briefing them or not, at least at first. [...] there is (generally) real value from reading the cases.


Very, very interesting. I've been inundated with advice from people subscribing to the same school of thought: i.e., "Read the supplements, avoid the casebooks." This just didn't sit well with me the deeper I dug into their reasoning (which I may have mischaracterized; if so, please feel free to correct). It seems like students turn to supplements when they can't (or prefer not to) extract the BLL from the cases. Unfortunately, that's not how I like to learn. Come exam day, I want to intelligently discuss and dissect issues within the context of history, theory, and policy. Not just spot the issue and regurgitate the rule. Relying more on supplements seems like a route to the latter rather than the former.

One more thing to consider. I'm coming into law school with a different background than most. I graduated in the top 4% of my class at an Ivy. Our final exams were administered in a similar manner to how they are at law school (and this held true across majors). It was never about memorization and regurgitation. Rather, it was about demonstrating rigorous and creative problem-solving abilities. I also took courses that offered legal writing and legal reasoning as modules, so I know IRAC, CRRACC, briefing, writing legal memoranda, etc. And, strangely enough, I prepped for consulting case interviews, which seem to require very similar mental tasks as a law school issue-spotter.

The point I'm trying to make here is that I don't want to be led in a direction that, while well-suited for most, is ill-suited for me. With that in mind, do you have any thoughts on what I should do from now until law school to get a head start? Just a few things I feel I should get out the way: (1) I actually find the law very interesting and would thoroughly enjoy reading through the restatements, hornbooks, etc.; (2) I've been out of school for a while, so there's added motivation to work out the mental kinks now rather than when school starts; and (3) I need to score near the top of my class, as I'll be attending a school outside the T14 (I'd also love to have transfer as a possibility).

Final thought: FWIW, I did love both the Freer Civ Pro and Chemerinsky Con Law supplements; you probably can’t go wrong with those. But I also agree with people that for most courses, waiting to hear what your prof recommends is the best bet. Most useful supplement I ever used was one my prof had written himself, for the obvious reason that it was totally tailored to what he was teaching us, and I knew that what was written there was how he understands the subject, so I didn’t have to filter what I was learning in the supplement through a different lens.


Thank you for the advice. Definitely taking it to heart.

All in all, amazing response. You have my deepest and sincerest gratitude.




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