Check out our full blog post for additional tips on how to prepare and be ready for your 1L year:
I remember being a 1L and being confused about mostly everything I was reading for class. I had no clue that there were books out there specifically made in order to help me understand what I was reading. About three weeks before finals, a friend of mine who has just finished law school, told me about supplements. In the event that you are like me, and have no idea that there are supplements that make your life easier, I've put together a list of the supplements I personally vouch for, so you don't have to (You're welcome). I recommend you get these before the semester begins and start using them as you complete your assigned readings before classes begin. If you don't want to spend the money on these, there's a chance that your law school library has these, so make sure you check with them.
First: You will be reading a lot. And most of the terms and words you will be reading you will not understand. [Students whose first language is not English will have a more challenging time with this.] Do not freak out, it’s ok. Law is a new language that you will learn in time. That’s why you need to get yourself a Black’s Law Dictionary.
Do not make the rookie mistake of actually buying the physical dictionary. Carrying that thing around is a pain and looking through it to find what you're looking for is time consuming. Instead, download the Black’s Law Dictionary App from the app store. It’s $54.99 and worth it (it’s still on my phone and I still use it). If you don’t want to spend the money, don’t worry, you can access the dictionary through West Law (you will learn about this when you start your semester).
Second: Regardless of what school you are attending, there are seven classes every 1L student takes:
(1)Property, (2)Torts, (3)Contracts, (4)Civil Procedure, (5)Criminal Law, (6)Constitutional Law, and (7)Legal Writing.
You will soon find out that although some classes may be easy for you to understand, others will sound like Klingon to you. It’s ok if you do not understand the material itself at the outset. You won’t be the only one.
There are a slew of materials out there that are specifically for helping you understand each individual area of law you’re studying. Below are the ones that I personally vouch for and find to be very good and worth the investment. [The prices stated are those stated on amazon.com]
NOTE:These books are not substitutes for your actual materials. They are to be used as supplements. These books will not substitute your readings; they will help you understand the black letter law so that your readings will make sense.
Examples and Explanations: Property, 5th Edition by Barlow Burke and Joseph Snoe
A new copy is $43.78 and a used one is $19.89.
In addition to covering all the relevant Property material that you will cover in class, this book lays out the Rule Against Perpetuities and Future Interests really well. (The RAP will be the vein of your existence in Property).
Examples and Explanations: The Law of Torts 5th Edition by Joseph W. Gannon
A new copy is $36.42 and a used one is $25.50.
(3) CONTRACTS - (This book is an investment I recommend. It covers both the Common Law and the UCC. I used it during my 1L year and post grad to supplement my Bar materials, so if you get it don't throw it away or sell it.)
Black Letter Outline on Contracts 5th Edition by John D. Calamari and Joseph M. Perillo
A new copy of this is $38.41 and a used copy $13.00. I do suggest you invest in a new copy so you can have a clean copy and are able to add your own personal notes.
(4) CIVIL PROCEDURE- [If you have professor Brad Clary at the University of Minnesota, ignore this and stick to what he gives you. His approach is hands on and practical so this will not help you.]
Civil Procedure is not hard, but it is all rules. Understanding the rules and approaching problems can be very tricky and at times very confusing depending on the facts. So I’m recommending two books:
The first is for understanding the material and the rules so that you may understand what you read and keep up with what’s going on in class:
Examples and Explanations: Civil Procedure 7th Edition by Joseph Glannon
A new copy is $36.42 and a used one is $20. If you don’t want to spend the money, your law school library should have a copy of this.
The second, the problems are harder and it has more in depth analysis, this book in addition to your outline is what you will use to prepare for your final exam (or midterm if you have one):
Glannon Guide to Civil Procedure 3rd Edition by Joseph Glannon
A new copy is $37.65 and a used one is $11.94.
(5) CRIMINAL LAW
Understanding Criminal Law 7th Edition by Joshua Dressler
A new copy is $46.55 and a used one is $45.
Note: If you don’t want to spend the money, your law school library should have a copy of it. However, if it’s not, get a copy of Barbri’s 1L outlines (this is free at the Barbri rep table). All the outlines in there are very helpful and in some cases may be better than using a supplement.
(6) CONSTITUTIONAL LAW
Constitutional Law: Principles and Policies 5th Edition by Erwin Chemerinsky
A new copy is $83.43 and a used one is $35.
Note: Two things: (1) If you are a foreign student and are not familiar with the U.S. Constitution, this book will be good for you. (2) If you don’t want to spend the money remember to check and see if your law school library keeps a copy of this. Additionally, the Barbri 1L outlines have a really good condensed version you can use to study (this is a free book you can get it at the Barbri rep table). Also, check if any recent graduate has the Barbri Multi State Outline Book and are willing to lend it out to you, or contact Barbri and see if they have a course outline similar to the one in the Multi State Outline Book (not the condensed version). The Barbri Con Law outline is a very good source for understanding the material and studying.
(7) LEGAL WRITING
This class will be challenging and you will hate it, so accept it and move on. Ultimately, this class will teach you how to write briefs, motions, letters to clients, etc., which is truly a long term skill that is developed by practice. However, this class is the foundation of that. Most important though, in this class you will learn how to approach and write out your final exams and consequently the Bar (although this point is debatable).
I'm recommending two books:
The first: The Winning Brief 3rd Edition by Brian Garner
A new copy is $48.08 and a used one $35.09.
This book is a gem and it’s for persuasive briefing at both trial and appellate level. This book is a great investment, you will use it post graduation if you go into litigation. So, buy a copy and keep it!
The Second: Plain English for Lawyers 5th Edition by Richard C. Wydick
A new copy is $14.89 and a used one is $8.00.
This book is great for those students who are having a hard time understanding the whole concept of legal writing. It boils down everything to the basics.
Here at T20JD we believe that the key to success is preparation. As a result, we hope these tid bits of knowledge are helpful to you. Now, go get organized and go kill your 1L year. You can do it!
If you have any questions, concerns, comments, or anxieties about law school, please feel free to reach out to me (Tracy) through: (1) this forum, (2) the website http://www.t20jd.com, (3) my email at email@example.com, or (4) call or text at (818) 821-0652.
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