Academic Tools Law Students Should Know: Commercial Study Aids

25 Aug

The others in this series are (in order):

Law School is starting, has started, or will start for all those newbie 1Ls who are arriving on the scene. On behalf of all of your seniors, I offer you welcome. To HELL. Okay, so I promise it won’t be like that forever, but the first few weeks are probably going to seem like you have entered the ninth level of Dante’s Horrors.  Or perhaps they’ll start you off really light and leave you unsuspecting only to be thoroughly traumatized by greater difficulties later in the semester.  So as a gift to you, I offer you a few tools that will help you on your way.  They won’t take all the agony out of the process, but hopefully it will lighten your load at least a bit.  I have at least 7 ready to post but I’m splitting them up for readability. The rest will come out staggered over the next few days. Good luck!

 Commercial Study Aids

You’re going to hear a lot of people talking about commercial study aids, and without an explanation they can be kind of confusing.  This title is given to a wide category of study guides published and sold by the major law-publishing companies. They can be everything from outlines to exam guides to flash cards and more.  Usually they are intended to help you study for exams or offer general overviews of major legal subject.  They won’t be specific to your professor, but they can help you better understand the topic when your prof goes off on tangents or just doesn’t explain himself/herself well.  Since there are hundreds of these, I won’t go into them all, but I will talk about the major ones that you might look for.  Some are more general outlines, some are exam-question focused, and some are more like memory tools or subject-specific explanations. I’ll go through as many as possible.  You can find others by scanning your law school bookstore, looking at law school websites, and skimming Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  These are just the major ones that you might find.

NOTE: Underlines means it is a Link


  • Emanuel Law Outlines (Print)

    • Contains an Outline, Chapter Summaries of the  topics followed by sample Multiple Choice questions and sample tests at the back. My personal favorite.  Long book, meant to be used along with your textbook throughout the course; not a crunch book for the end.

  • Gilbert’s Law Summaries (Print)

    • Comparable to the Emanuel above, some people prefer this series.  Contains an outline, chapter summaries of the major topics, sample exam questions and explanations, audio lectures, and more.  Long book, meant to be used along with your textbook throughout the course; not a crunch book for the end.

  • Examples and Explanations (Print)

    • Teaches by offering explanations accompanied by several examples. Doesn’t have the sample tests, but the series’ explanations is considered exceptional.  Comparable to Emanuel and Gilbert’s.  Long book, meant to be used along with your textbook throughout the course; not a crunch book for the end.

  • Finals Law School Exam Series (Print)

    • This is kind of the opposite of the E&E series in that it focuses more on sample exam questions. However, it also has the capsule summaries, outlines and more that the others offer. I’m not that familiar with the series, but many recommend it.  Long book, meant to be used along with your textbook throughout the course; not a crunch book for the end.

  • Barbri

  • If you have signed up with Barbri for the Bar Exam, they will send you a First Year study guide. It is meant to review those classes for the bar exam after you graduate, but it can help while you’re taking the classes as well. It usually has outlines and sample questions and tests.



Hornbooks are more or less supplemental textbooks. They are usually pretty extensive and should be read in correlation with the class. They can’t really be used as outlines since it is all paragraphs and chapters not short phrases in outline format. There are several series.


Exam Guides

These books are almost entirely questions and answers or practice exams. They can be really helpful for the tests.


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