Books on Law School Success
Getting Oriented to Law School
This guide is intended to help new law students get oriented to law school and identify study materials for first year classes.
Some things to keep in mind:
1) Check out study materials at the Reserve Desk to see what works for you. If you decide you like a resource and want your own copy, look for a used copy online.
2) Some recommended study aids:
- Hornbooks - Hornbooks are one volume legal treatises written primarily for law students and covering typical law school classes. They summarize and explain points of law, as opposed to casebooks, which provide edited cases. Hornbooks can be used to supplement casebooks.
- Nutshells (West's Law in a Nutshell Series) - You can think of these books as a succinct statement of the black letter law. "Don't let their small size fool you: West's Law in a Nutshell series represents succint yet comprehensive overview of the law in over a hundred different legal areas. Nutshells have a loyal following who swear by their easy-to-understand treatment of the law, and they are a great illustration that learning the law doesn't have to be dry and confusing."
- Questions and Answers - This series uses multiple choice and short answer questions to test your knowledge.
- Examples and Explanations - This series allows you to test your knowledge by applying legal concepts to hypotheticals.
- Preparing for Your First Semester of Law School - From CALI
- Law School Materials for Success - Free CALI ebook, downloadable as a pdf, word doc, or for a mobile reader
- Incoming One-L FAQ - Provides questions (and answers) common to all first-year law students.
- First Day of Law School Tutorial - From SMU Dedman School of Law.
- Westlaw First Year Center - Includes information on many aspects of student life.
- Lexis' Think Like a Lawyer Game
- Law School Success Blog - lots of great advice here
- An Introduction to Grades for New Law Students
- Introduction to the Socratic Method for New Law Students
- How to Interact with Your Instructor - written for undergrads, but applies in law school, too
- Letter to a Young Law Student - By University of Missouri Emeritus Professor Corinne Cooper.
- Advice to One L from a Professor Podcast - Available from CALI
- Law School and Stress - By Professor Barbara Glesner Fines
- Beating Law School Burnout - From MSLAW Academic Support
- Time Management Tips for Law Students - From MSLAW Academic Support
- MSLAW's Academic Support
- MSLAW's Writing Lab
- Strategies for Reducing Procrastination - From the Procrastination Research Skills Group
- Study Skills Self-Help - From Virginia Tech
Resources from The Law School Academic Success Project
The following multimedia lessons can be viewed from your computer. They were created for The Law School Academic Success Project by expert legal educators to help law students and pre-law students like you succeed.
- Expert Learning for Law Students: Part I, 16 minutes, By Michael Hunter Schwartz, Washburn University Law School
- Expert Learning for Law Students: Part II, 26 minutes, By Michael Hunter Schwartz, Washburn University School of Law
- Expert Learning for Law Students: Part III, 21 minutes, By Michael Hunter Schwartz, Washburn University School of Law
- Stress Basics: Understanding Stress to Craft Effective Interventions, 37 minutes, By Marty Peters, Elon University School of Law
- Learning Styles: Absorption, 20 minutes, By Amy Jarmon, Texas Tech University School of Law
- Learning Styles: Processing, 20 minutes, By Amy Jarmon, Texas Tech University School of Law
- Outlining Course Materials - The Essentials, 18 minutes, By Laurie Zimet, Hastings College of Law
- Outlining Course Materials - Practice Exercise, 22 minutes, By Laurie Zimet, Hastings College of Law
- Legal Reading and Law School Success: Students,14 minutes, By Leah Christensen, Thomas Jefferson School of Law
- Reading Like an Expert, 19 minutes, By Ruth Ann McKinney, The University of North Carolina School of Law
- Plain English Law Dictionary - Nolo's free online legal dictionary
- Plain English Law Dictionary - free app for mobile devices
- Black's Dictionary Mobile - app for mobile devices
- Black’s Law Dictionary (on reserve)
Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) is a a nonprofit consortium of nearly every US law school that welcomes membership from law schools, paralegal programs, law firms, individuals, or any organization that wishes to learn or teach the law.
CALI offers lessons on many law school topics, and many students find it to be a valuable study aid.
CALI offers free e-books, including the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence.
CALI also awards the highest scoring student in each law school class at many law schools with a CALI Excellence for the Future Award®.
About half of CALI’s 200 member law schools distribute CALI Awards, and most of them post award recipients here. You can view Massachusetts School of Law CALI Award winners here.
Ask at the Reserve Desk for a CALI Registration Code, or email a member of the library staff. We also have a limited number of cds that contain the library of CALI lessons at the Reserve Desk, where you may request a copy. Once you have the code, click on Register in the top right corner of the page at www.cali.org to register the code and create your own username and password.