Earlier in the semester, we talked about waiting to buy supplements (which can end up saving you a bit of very important dinero). However, now is the time (about halfway through the semester) to pick your supplements and begin using them! (Not sure which supplements to purchase? Stay tuned, we will soon share some of our favorites on the blog.) Note: I use the term “supplement” to cover commercial supplements, hornbooks, and commercial outlines.
So let’s say you have picked your supplements for each of your classes. Perhaps you got recommendations from upperclassmen, chatted with your professors, or tried out a few in the library.
Now the question becomes what do you do with supplements. Here are some scenarios where supplements can be really helpful.
- I have no idea what the professor was talking about in class last week. We have all gone to class, listened diligently, taken quality class notes, and yet still have no idea what the professor was talking about. Does this sound familiar to you? It might, especially if you are in your 1L year. So what do you do? Just stay confused? No! A good supplement can almost be another lecture on the law that was covered in your class. Sometimes, hearing the law presented in a slightly different way can help you understand it. Note: Remember, you must use the terminology and law presented to you in class by your professor on your final exams. Therefore, when used for this purpose, the supplement should be read after class.
- I have no idea how all these topics fit together for a specific subject. It is possible that you just don’t fully understand what the heck is going on with contracts, for example. Your professor spends a lot of time discussing the details, but you could really use an overview. This is something else supplements can be good for. They can give you a high-level discussion of a given subject to help with your overall conceptual understanding.
- My professor doesn’t want to teach us the law, he/she expects us to learn it ourselves. Sometimes, professors expect you to learn the law on your own outside of class. So what do you do? A supplement can give you an overview/understanding of the black letter law so you are prepared for class and able to follow class discussion. In this case, it may make sense to read the supplement before class, rather than after class (or even both!).
- I need help practicing my legal analysis. Students often complain that they want more opportunities to practice legal analysis. Supplements can provide this for you. Different supplements have different amounts of practice questions (examples and explanations are some of our favorites). When selecting the right supplement for you, make sure you think through whether you would like to have additional hypos or practice questions to work with.
- My outline is a mess and I need help understanding black letter law. Supplements are also really helpful when you are outlining. Depending on your class, a good commercial outline or hornbook will help you organize and condense the law into manageable pieces. We recommend that you have at least one supplement with you when you sit down to outline.
Remember though, supplements shouldn’t be used to eliminate reading for class. They should be used in addition to your class materials, to help you master the subject, write a quality outline, and learn the law so you can impress your professor on exam day.
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Here are some other helpful posts:
- Save Yourself a Few Bucks – Buying Law School Supplements
- What Most Law Students Forget to Do: Think About the Material
- Are You a 2L and Wondering How You Can Get Better Grades This Year?
- What’s the Right Mindset for Studying?
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