I’ve said it before: if you detest studying in the library at your law school, don’t do it! It’s not required to do well on your exams. You should study wherever you feel the most comfortable, focused, and productive. That said, though, did you know that law libraries often house some fantastic resources that many law students never take advantage of? If you’re just starting out exploring your law library, or want to get more out of navigating the library you know and love, here are some resources to check out.
Bar Review Materials
As we’ve mentioned before, bar review materials can be a great way to study for your 1L doctrinal courses like Torts and Civil Procedure. They can also be really helpful for 2Ls and 3Ls taking classes like Evidence and Corporations. If you’re enrolled in a class that is also on the bar exam, consider checking out bar review books and multiple choice questions. These are usually on reserve in the library.
Since studying for the bar involves cramming your head full of copious amounts of black letter law in a short period time, the good news is that bar review books aim to be simple and straightforward. They are a nice place to look for the big picture outline of how the topics you’re learning about in your course fit together, and they explain the law in a way that many students actually find easier to grasp than supplements and hornbooks. One caveat here, is to make sure you’re sticking to the subjects on your syllabus. And, as always, if you have questions about your professor’s own interpretations of the law, or what will be on your exam, ask!
Thankfully, more and more law schools now have online databases of past exams that you can sort through to look for practice hypos. If you’re having trouble finding practice problems, though, check your library. Practicing early and often is necessary to ensure that you understand the material you’re learning. Look for past exams that your professor has written since these will likely be the closest approximation to what you might see on your final exam.
Supplements on Reserve
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell which supplement will work the best for your course or Professor. If you want to try out several options before committing to any one of them, see if your library has some on the reserve shelf that you can page through. Look for a supplement that explains the topics you’re learning about in a way that makes sense to you. Try out a few. See if you can find one with practice problems and answers. Here are some of our favorites!
The Research Librarians
I’ve never personally met a research librarian who wasn’t fantastically intelligent and helpful. Research librarians are not only great when it comes to finding the books or supplements you might need, they can also be really valuable assets when it comes time to research for an open universe assignment or draft memos or briefs in your legal writing class. It’s always crucial to make sure you get permission from your professor before you get any kind of outside help on any assignments, but if your professor tells you this is fine, try running your case search or research log by a librarian to see if he or she can help you narrow the search and find what you’re looking for.
Free Online Research Training
Lexis and Westlaw often offer free training seminars that law students can sign up for in the computer lab at the library. These can be a fast and easy way to learn inside tips on navigating the vast and sometimes confusing world of online research. Becoming a knowledgeable and quick legal researcher will make your next writing assignment easier, and can make you an asset at your next summer job.
Passwords for Online Practice Quizzes
Many law libraries have passwords for students who want to log in and use online practice materials such as CALI lessons and multiple choice questions. If you have a multiple choice final this semester and you’re looking for more practice problems, see if your library has any logins you can use.
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And check out these helpful posts:
- Lesson’s from My 1L Year: Be Careful With Study Groups
- Evidence-Backed Law School Study Tips
- Need More Time? Study Smart Before Your Law School Class
- Time for a Mid-Semester Reality Check
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