Thursday, February 26, 2009

Supplementing your legal education with...supplements

A recent e-mail asked us to comment on our favorite law school supplements. Given my slavish obsession with supplements, I am happy to oblige on The Blackbook's behalf. There's a wide array of supplements to choose from, and I have, despite the fact I'm only halfway along my law school journey, literally seen 'em all. And not just because I really "needed" to review every outline, hornbook, case summary or nutshell. Rather, I'm a card carrying member of the modern day analog to the hunter-gatherer in our law school bubble: the "supplement collector."

If you know what I’m talking about, you’re probably a supplement collector yourself. Every semester, you seek out the best supplements to purchase, and buy the lot. But then you realize there may be a really useful point of law in another supplement you didn’t buy, so you just need to have that one too. Eventually, you have your own personal library collection of supplements.

I've been hooked since 1L. Before first semester started, I bought all of the "Examples and Explanations" series for every class I was enrolled in, along with the "Emmanuels Outlines" and the "Hornbook Series." Succeeding in law school, I thought at the time, was expensive and I was willing to pay the proverbial price. After barely using any of my supplements to prepare for finals, I vowed never to go on a supplement binge again. But I've since done it every semester since, and I just can't stop myself. Maybe this has something to do with the law school personality we've talked about?

All things considered, this is a pretty good vice to have. Sure, it's expensive, but at least I've never had to worry about having insufficient resources to figure out confusing legal doctrine! And, in some cases, I have actually used my supplements to, er, supplement my education. So without further ado, here's what I recommend based on my past experiences…I'm only addressing 1L supplements for now:

Contracts: The Emmanuels Outline was most useful for me. I found the Examples and Explanations more or less worthless.

Torts: The Gilberts Outline was really helpful, although my Professor's idiosyncratic style made any secondary source more or less worthless (naturally, though, this didn't stop me from buying more!). I didn't like the Examples and Explanations, but some friends raved about it.

Civil Procedure: The conventional wisdom is that Glannon's Examples and Explanations is the supplement to use, and I couldn't agree more. I also consulted the Hornbook Series which I found helpful, albeit much more detailed than necessary for my purposes. You should be aware that owning (and using) a hardcover supplement like the Civil Procedure Hornbook Series is almost a surefire guarantee that you'll be made fun of by your friends; I was no exception to this.

Constitutional Law: Erwin Chemerinsky's book was fantastic. Even if you're not an avid supplement reader, you need to have a copy of this one. It's one of the few supplements I didn't sell back on after using.

Property: The Emmanuels Outline was my favorite for this class. I found the other popular supplements to be pretty unhelpful in most instances.

Criminal Law: Dressler's book from the Lexis Understanding Series was my favorite. I pretty much love everything Dressler has out there, and also looked at his Black Letter Series outline.

Happy shopping...


  1. Contracts: Emmanuel's CrunchTime is where its at: smaller than the regular Emmanuel's, it has flow charts and gives the best "rule" sentence for any topic ever.

    Evidence: See Contracts.

    Property/Torts: Gilberts was alright(but this was before I found CrunchTime).

    ConLaw: Emmanuels (which I literally found in the garbage after I saw a student throw it away).

    CivPro: Glannon's 'Examples & Explanations' is money

    Fed Cts: Little's 'Examples & Explanations' has been pretty good to me so far.

    CrimLaw: Dressler is total money. Could've gotten by w/o buying the text book (that goes for pretty much every class)

    Estates: Bought ONLY the Emmanuels after I found it was keyed to the Dukeminier book. Saved about $80 by doing this alone (and, it has ALL the same cases, in the same order, so no need to worry about looking like an idiot when you don't know the facts.)

  2. Also: you could probably buy just the supplements and get A's w/o the case books if you were smart enough to interlibrary loan the text books. If so, go to westlaw, highlight the 2-4 sentence for your case and paste it into your notes. Yet another trick I picked up last semester.

  3. Master, the E&E is good for Fed Cts? I'd heard Chemerisky was the key supp for that one too...

  4. Any good advice on antitrust supplements?

  5. @ Master Shake--

    E&E for Federal Courts, huh? I bought Chemerinsky on my Professor's (so far warranted) recommendation, and have found it good if sometimes a little less clear than I'd like. The E&E looked kind of thin for a course like Fed. Cts...but now that you endorse it, I guess I'll just have to buy it. But who am I kidding, I would've taken the dive anyway!

  6. The E&E for Fed. Cts. really has been money so far. While it may look a little thin, it has mostly gotten the job done. I have to disclose a little here: I managed to get the textbook for a pittance on Amazon (like $20 for an $80 book) so anything E&E doesn't cover from my syllabus (like remedies under the federal common law), I just cross-reference with the casebook and/or westlaw. Also, I like the E&E author's style-- it seems easy to understand and she doesn't bother with extensive policy analysis (unlike the dumbass casebook). As a further plus, I got the E&E for like $10 or $15 on amazon, so it was totally worth it.

    Let me reiterate: If your Prof. is using Dukeminier in Estates (or even Property), just buy the Emmanuel's that is 'keyed' to the casebook. It costs a fraction of casebook and it has everything you could possibly want (and need).

  7. 7:55, the nutshell is for antitrust is decent. But there are a lot of changes in the law not mentioned and the authors seem to get a few economic concepts plain wrong.

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