Advocating for the Use of Supplements

Stephanie Baldwin, 2L at the University of Arizona

Last year, I wrote about the different type of supplements that are available to law students. This year I want to talk about how you can use them effectively. Last week the 1LLife wrote a great article about one of the supplements I have previously talked about, the 1L Mastery Package. Like many other 1Ls nationwide who watched Professor Freer (who presents Civil Procedure in the 1L Mastery series), I must give credit for him contributing to my understanding of the subject. My only regret is I didn’t watch him sooner, as it would have helped me with class so much! My professor was amazing, but I always felt a little behind because I was trying to both learn and understand her takeaways at the same time, and I could have used supplements to have avoided that, which leads to my first tip…

Use of Supplements Before You start the Topic in Class.

One of the arguments against supplements is that they are different from what or how the professor might teach. This can be true, however, having a different perspective can be helpful, and the black letter law or rule itself rarely changes from how each professor discusses it. My greatest regret is not watching the 1L Mastery series as classes were going (rather than before finals), as I felt it would have made me better prepared for class.

This year I am using the 2L/3L Mastery series in addition to my textbook to help me better understand my subjects, including Evidence. I am lucky enough to be taught my Professor Mauet, who very likely wrote your evidence book. He is regarded as one of the national experts on the topic and is an amazing professor, but I am still watching the BARBRI videos before class. I am doing this because it allows me to have a good grasp of the material before he presents the topic. It allows class to almost be like a review session, and I focus exclusively on HOW he presents that material rather than WHAT he is presenting. In other words, I can take my general understanding, and tailor it to the way he wants me to understand the subject or rule.

The Reading Portion

The same can be said for reading the portion of the supplement that is relevant to class before going to that lecture. Just like the videos, a written supplement will help to clarify what you have read from the textbook, allow you to focus on what matters, and then listen differently in class. I think that was a big thing that I didn’t grasp well in my first semester, I was listening to learn rather than listening to understand what my professor wanted me to take away from the lecture. Grasping this in second semester is a big reason why my grades improved.

Use the Supplement to improve your outline.

Some supplements include outlines or have recommended checklists. Modify these and create your own based upon how your professor teaches. Again, this is something I did not figure out until my second semester of 1L. Something I underutilized during my finals was the use of an “attack” outline. In many cases, this is a checklist to help you hit all of the bullet points on your essays. Using an example from a supplement, really helped me understand how to create these for my classes.

Do not let myths about using supplements get into your head

One of the best students I know actually recommended this topic for a blog because of all of the negative things he has heard said about the use of supplements. Namely, that only “bad” students need to use supplements. I can tell you that is simply not true. Most of the top students I spoke to recommended supplements to me last year, and they said they were “key” to their understanding. I think it is important to remember that they are just supplements, in other words, they can help you understand, but just supplement your efforts. You still need to go to class and engage with your professor, but supplements can elevate your understanding of a topic and help you excel in class.

What are some of your favorite supplements? Let me know over at the @The2LLife on Instagram or Twitter.