By Stephanie Baldwin, University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law
I am sure most of you, like me, feel that this semester is challenging for all of us. At my school, we are still 100% online and may return to school in a week or two but, even then, we are split into different teams to reduce class sizes. As for me, I will remain 100% online. This is why I think law school supplements will once again play an essential role in the semester. They will also be a good refresher as we prepare for the bar exam.
Part of the challenge of this 3L fall semester has been the lack of active discussion about cases. Cold calling can be awkward in Zoom. Often, the professors go very fast or they are really into the flow of their lectures, and they fail to have the regular pauses they would in during in-person classes. Without these hesitations, there really isn’t a great time to stop and ask a question – to cold call on a student.
As for 1L year, once you reach the midpoint of your first semester (and final exams are just around the corner!), you may want some extra support to help drill home what you need to learn from those required first-year subjects. Realizing that your first-ever final exams are only weeks away, you’ll want to maximize your understanding of the black letter law to be as prepared as possible – remember, almost everything you do during 1L year is a black letter law course. With that in mind, 1L study supplements might be just the thing.
I’ve spent time gathering input from a number of students and law librarians about which supplements most help law students stay on track and get ahead, from 1L all the way through 3L. Here are their recommendations:
Examples & Explanations series (E&E)
These came highly recommended. Since being introduced to the series, the E&E series for Torts, Contracts and Civil Procedure have quickly become integrated into my study approach. They are great for extra clarification. The hypos are known to closely resemble what will appear on exams, especially for Civil Procedure. You can purchase any of the E&E series editions or find them at your law library on reserve.
The Inside Series
Honestly, these are my favorite book supplement. I don’t know why more people don’t talk about them, but I can say that I would not have learned some fundamental concepts in Civil Procedure without them. These law school supplements are organized effectively, easy to read and address subjects in a straightforward way. The Inside Series has books for every 1L course, as well as 2L and 3L subjects. This weekend, I cracked open Inside Administrative Law and I already feel like I understand my notes from class better.
BARBRI 1L Mastery
As a 1L student, you really need to sign up for 1L Mastery. I don’t know a person in law school who hasn’t watched at least one of Professor Rich Freer’s expert Civil Procedure lecture videos. Ideally, if you are a 1L student, you are watching these each week to help reinforce and clarify concepts from your Civil Procedure class. Even as a 2L and 3L student, it doesn’t hurt to watch the 1L Mastery videos again. Not only can it come in handy with your summer position (yes, I had to write two memos on Civil Procedure issues), it also will help 1L subjects remain familiar. No matter which year you’re in, as long as you signed up for 1L Mastery during 1L year, you should still have access to the videos and outlines throughout law school.
A Short & Happy Guide series
The Short & Happy Guides are nice law school supplements for a quick review of topics. My Bankruptcy professor has mentioned multiple times that we should pick up this series and read it for the class. I finally listened to his advice. It’s allowed me to start making more useful annotations in my Bankruptcy rule book. And, let’s face it, if your professor is telling you to use a supplement, you probably should.
On the complete opposite end of the 1L supplements spectrum from the quick-reference Short & Happy Guides, we have Hornbooks – long and extremely comprehensive summaries for a particular area of the law. While you might not want (or need) to read the entire Hornbook (some appear to be as big as casebooks and as expensive), you might find a chapter on a specific topic helpful. Again, your law school library will likely have these on hand and that will also save you some money.
BARBRI 2L/3L Mastery
If you’ve already made the decision to enroll in BARBRI Bar Review, you have online access to 2L/3L Mastery. Much like 1L Mastery, this package of upper level study aids includes on-demand lecture videos, outlines and practice questions. If you choose to use the app, you can download video lectures or audio lectures. I like to listen to the audio lectures while running errands or walking in my neighborhood, for example.