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How To Get Law School Supplements On The Cheap

Long time friend and Frugal Law Student reader, Mike, asked this question in last week’s post on law school repayment programs.

“Did you use supplementary study materials? What are your thoughts on hornbooks and other supplements from a frugal perspective? They are quite expensive, but seem like a worthwhile investment. “

Great questions, Mike! I did use supplementary study aids extensively and still do. I don’t know if I would have understood the law as well as I did if it weren’t for them. However, they can get expensive. Here’s a quick list of some of the study aids that I used during my first year.

  • Hornbooks. In law school, you’ll mainly be reading a case book. Case books are designed to give you examples of the law, but often they don’t spell the law out for you. Hornbooks are like text books. They’re written by experts in a particular field of law. They tell you what the black letter law is, examples of application of the law, and also policy arguments in favor or against the law. I found hornbooks to be extremely helpful, especially in my contracts class.
  • Examples and Explanations. Examples and Explanations (E&E) are another amazing study supplement. First, they give you a great summary of the law written in plain non-ivory towerish language. But that’s not the best part. At the end of each chapter, the author includes several hypotheticals (examples) and answers to these hypotheticals (explanations). These come in handy for working on exam writing skills. At the end of each week, I would do all the examples on the topics we covered in class. By the time finals came by, I had literally written hundreds of short essays on different legal topics.
  • Law in a Flash. Law in a Flash are flash cards that include questions on black letter law. They also have short hypotheticals so you can learn how to apply the law. The hypos can be pretty funny, which helps in remembering law.
  • Gilbert’s and Emmanuel’s Outlines. These are ready made course outlines. I used these, but sparingly. Each professor is different and will test on different things. You want to study from an outline keyed to your professor. Use it as a supplement to your OWN course outline
  • Crunch Time Series. These are produced by Emmanuel’s as well. They’re basically condensed commercial outlines. What I found useful about them is that they offer strategies on how to approach different types of issues. They also have several practice multiple choice and essay questions.
  • Sum and Substance CDs. Sum and Substance are audio lectures. I would listen to them while in the car or while working out. I don’t think they helped me immensely, but it didn’t hurt listening to black letter law over and over again. If you do decide to use CD’s in our study program, speed them up on your MP3 player so you can get through them quicker.

How to save money on these supplements

  • Use the library. All of these supplements can be found at your law school’s library. I would often just check them out for an hour after each class to help me put together my outline. The cost to me is nothing. The only drawback is that you can’t mark them up. I love to make notes in the margin while I read and highlight. You can’t do that with library books, unless you want to get the stink eye from your librarians.
  • Shop online. If you’re the type of person who likes to mark books up, consider buying supplements used online. Amazon, Half, and Ebay always have law supplements for sell.
  • Take advantage of school organizations. One campus organization I belong to has a locker at the school filled with study supplements for its members to use. I usually check it out at the beginning of the year to see if there’s anything I can use.
  • Become a student rep for publishing companies. This year, I’ve started working as a student rep for  Aspen Publishing. Part of my compensation with Aspen are discounts and vouchers on study supplements. If you ever see any of these companies hiring student reps, jump on it. You can save tons of money on supplements.