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How To Get Law School Supplements On The Cheap

Written by Brett McKay

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.

Top CEOs Don’t Read Getting Things Done

Written by Brett McKay


The New York Times ran an article about the books that sit on the shelves of America’s Top C.E.Os. Surprisingly, there’s not many business or productivity books like Getting Things Done or The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Instead top C.E.Os fill their libraries with fiction, poetry, and biographies.

Take Apple CEO, Steve Jobs. Mr. Jobs has an extensive collection of works by William Blake, an 18th century mystic poet and artist. Michael Moritz, the venture capitalist who took PayPal, Google, and YouTube public, reads T. E. Lawrence’s ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom.’ The article reports C.E.Os with an interest in climate change aren’t reading Al Gore, but rather books from the 15th century about the weather, Egyptian droughts, and even replicas of Sumerian tablets recording extraordinary changes in climate.

Why C.E.Os read fiction, poetry, philosophy, and biographies

It teaches you how to think. Most business books set everything out for the reader in a step-by-step fashion which doesn’t require much mental participation. Fiction, on the other hand, requires the reader to actively take part with the author in order to synthesize the message. The same is true with philosophy or poetry.

New ideas. Reading fiction or the classics from antiquity can help C.E.Os make idea connections they couldn’t make just by reading business books. Perhaps Aristotle could shed light on how to lead or maybe Crime and Punishment can give a marketing director an idea for a new ad campaign.

Learn success from the lives of successful people. If you want to be successful, read about the lives of successful people. Biographies are the original self improvement books. From biographies you can learn how history’s most successful people thought and worked. Take what you read from biographies and apply it in your life.

This article reminded me of the value of reading fiction and other non-business/financial books. I think reading fiction and other genres of literature will help me get new insights for law school and my blog. Perhaps Ovid has something to say about personal finance or maybe Joseph Heller has an insight on how to succeed on law school exams. It’s time I go to the library and find out.

Hat tip my wonderful wife Kate for the article.

10 Ways To Avoid Depression In Law School

Written by Brett McKay


Law school can get you down. There’s so much pressure to succeed, that when you don’t meet your expectations you feel like a big piece of poo. Additionally, because law school requires a huge time commitment, many students lose balance in their life. Both these factors can contribute to depression in law school. Once depression sets in, your grades suffer and you suffer. Today we’ll discuss some easy things you can do to avoid depression in law school

  1. Don’t equate yourself worth to your LSAT score or grades. Your worth as a human being isn’t determined by your grades.
  2. Stop comparing yourself to others. I know it’s hard not to compare yourself in law school seeing how grades are determined by how everyone else does, but make an effort to stop comparing yourself. Whenever you compare yourself to others, you’re always going to lose. There will always be someone who’s better than you. Just focus on improving your personal best.
  3. Exercise. Start an exercise plan and stick to it. Try to get in at least 3 workouts a week. Exercise is a great way to let off some steam from law school. Also a sound body means a sound mind which will come in handy on test day.
  4. Eat right. Don’t feed yourself out of the vending machine. If you eat crap, you’ll feel like crap. Make sure to eat breakfast everyday and bring a nutritious lunch to school.
  5. Sleep. Adequate sleep is an important part of avoiding depression. Ideally you should be getting between 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Sleep is especially important during finals. Insufficient sleep has been shown to cause a decrease in mental abilities. So, don’t pull all-nighters. You’re probably better off sleeping an extra 5 hours than studying an extra 5 hours. Don’t let the students who boast about pulling all-nighters get to you. They’re not going to do better than you. In fact, you’ll probably do better than them.
  6. Don’t drink. Alcohol is not the answer to your law school problems. Your bad grade will still be there after the hangover.Lawyers are notorious for having a high percentage of alcoholics. Often the problem began while in law school. Avoid becoming another statistic by not drinking.
  7. Maintain your hobbies. Many law students give up their hobbies once in law school in order to devote more time to studying. This is a big mistake. It’s good to do things that aren’t associated with law school to keep balance. Having a hobby is great for rejuvenating your mind and body to tackle law school. For example, my hobby is this blog. During the school year I spent about an hour each morning working on it. It really helped me to stay relaxed while in law school. While you may not be able to devote as much time to your hobby while in law school, don’t abandon them completely.
  8. Make time for friends and family who aren’t going to law school. While it’s nice to have friends in law school, you usually just end up talking about law school with them. You need to get away from law school as much as you can. Non law school friends and family will keep you grounded. If you’re married, make sure to have a night where you just hang out with your spouse. Don’t talk about law school, rather talk about normal stuff. It will remind you what’s really important in life.
  9. Don’t study all the time. Many law students have the false belief that that how much you study determines your success. The reality is that success in law school is determined by how you study. My advice is to treat law school like a job. Put in your 9 hours at school, come home, and leave the books in the bag. It will keep you sane.
  10. Seek help. If you feel like law school’s getting you down go talk to someone. Many schools offer academic support that has counselors that can help you. Also, try talking to your professors. You’ll be surprised how many are willing to listen and help if you’re suffering depression.

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[tags]law school, depression, lifehacks[/tags]

Do You Suffer From Digital Pack Rat-itis? Here’s Your Prescription.

Written by Brett McKay


Talk of the Nation had an interesting segment yesterday about pack rats. Neal Conan interviewed Mark McCluskey, products editor at Wired magazine, about how hoarding has gone digital.

Unlike analog pack rats who love collecting things, digital pack rats love collecting content. Analog pack rats love the tactile experience of holding an old vinyl album or smelling an old book. Analog pack rats generally don’t even listen to the records or read the books that they hold on to. Digital pack rats on the other hand love collecting information. They like knowing that somewhere in their computer or external hard drive lies a golden nugget of information.

I know I’m guilty of both, but more so with digital hoarding. I have emails from three years ago still on my account. I know I’ll never read them, but I just don’t have the heart to delete them. It’s like my little collection of letters tied with a digital bow that I keep in my digital attic. Instead of old drawings from kindergarten, my computer is overflowing with undergrad papers that I wrote years ago. I have no desire to read my research paper on the philosophy of language, but I don’t want to delete it.

However, analog and digital hoarding can cost people time and money. Important things or information can get lost in the clutter of stuff that you hold on to. That bill that was due yesterday is probably lost in the huge piles of paper sitting on your desk. My computer is starting to slow down because of all the crap that’s on it.

GTD: Just What the Dr. Ordered

My prescription to you is buying a copy Getting Things Done by David Allen. GTD will help you eliminate clutter and focus on the important things in your life. Below is a short list of resources about GTD and decluttering that I have used to cure myself of pack rat-itis.

Warning: Take productivity in moderation

In your quest to heal yourself of pack rat-itis, don’t replace your obsession with collecting “stuff” with an obsession of productivity. My own experience has shown me that one can get so obsessed with GTD and life hacks that you end up less productive than before. If you take productivity in moderation and you should be alright.

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[tags] GTD, life hack, productivity, NPR, Zen Habits[/tags]

19 Traits of Successful People

Written by Brett McKay

Did you know that there’s a name for the study of maximizing human potential? It’s called Anthropomaximology. A few years ago, I received a list of characteristics that anthropomaximologists have put together of what makes a person successful. Here is that list. I think these traits are particularly helpful for law students to develop in order to maximize their success in school. However, they’re just as applicable to any person wanting to maximize their potential.

  1. Never be satisfied with your level of development; always try to better than you were before.
  2. Avoid comfortable situations. Do things even if you don’t like them, because you know they’re important.
  3. Set goals. Don’t just feel you SHOULD do something, but rather that you MUST do it.
  4. Don’t blame others. Resolve problems. Any setback is an obstacle that must be overcome.
  5. Take risks. But take them with wisdom. Don’t take risks without planning. Evaluate and proceed with confidence and without fear.
  6. Have vision. Develop the ability to foresee in your mind the results you want even before you start with your plan. Learn to see the beginning from the end.
  7. Don’t be a slave to work. Make time to rejuvenate yourself, so you can be more productive.
  8. Learn to handle yourself well under pressure. No one can have confidence in an individual who is always nervous and pressured.
  9. Be objective. Don’t take failures personally.
  10. Understand the nature of energy. If you apply sufficient force to a goal, progress will be made.
  11. Learn to nurture. Build up and nurture others. Always leave things better than how you found them.
  12. Become sociable. Enjoy being with others.
  13. Become self disciplined. Don’t let habits, desires and failures control you, rather learn to control yourself.
  14. Be courageous.
  15. Have FAITH in yourself. Don’t doubt. Demonstrate your faith with actions and works.
  16. Live in the present. Don’t live with yesterday’s laurels nor with tomorrow’s aspirations. Do your best NOW.
  17. Forget about past errors. Don’t base today’s decisions on yesterday’s mistakes. Hope and live for today’s success and in the future.
  18. Be quick to forgive, forget, and to keep going with on with life. This applies as much to yourself as with others.
  19. Learn to stand on the shoulders of predecessors. Build on what others have done. Don’t destroy what others have done just advance your own agenda.

How To Make Money Online, With Some Help From Net Business Blog

Written by Brett McKay

Increasing income is an important step for law students, undergrad students, or anyone to beat debt and become financially free. Many people, however, don’t have the time or energy to take on a second job. That’s why internet revenue is an awesome solution to increasing your streams of income.

Despite all the hype, making money online is difficult. Only a few people will ever make six-figure incomes blogging. That shouldn’t stop you from trying, though. With time and some work, you can make $50-$100 a month from blogging. That extra money adds up quickly, especially if you invest or save it.

If you don’t know how to get started with making money online, head of to Matt Codington’s Net Business Blog. While his blog is only three months old, he’s already making $1,000/month in ad revenue. He provides excellent tips on how to make money online. Some of my favorite posts include:

Matt is genuinely interested in helping others make money online. That’s why his blog has been such a success. Another sign of Matt’s genuineness is that he’s offering a free link back to anyone who reviews his site. In the short time it takes to write a review, you can have a link on a high traffic blog, thus increasing the chances more traffic comes your way. Matt, I salute you.