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Study Aids

About Study Aids

Study aids are materials, other than your casebook, that help explain and outline the law.  Study aids include explanatory material like nutshells and hornbooks, commercial outlines, case summaries, flashcards, audio tapes and more.

Study aids are meant to supplement, not take the place of, the work that you are already doing in your courses. 

Study aids can help by:

  • providing a useful overview of a confusing subject area,
  • identifying the rule of law from a group of cases,
  • helping to double check your understanding of material,
  • offering an alternative explanation or examples that allow a student to make sense of difficult material.

Types of Study Aids

Law school study aids are intended to assist students in accomplishing specific ends like extracting the rule from a particular case, getting a broad overview of a topic, or practicing exam questions.  Below is a brief overview of the types of study aids that are available, with examples of each type.  (This list is not exhaustive.)

Explanations of the Law:  These series provide explanations of legal concepts and black letter law, with useful background information.  They tend to be more detailed than most outlines or narrative study guides.  The amount of detail varies with each publication.  Examples of this type of study aid include:

  • Concepts and Insights (Westlaw)
  • Concise Hornbooks (Westlaw)
  • Hornbooks (Westlaw)
  • Law in a Nutshell (Westlaw)
  • Understanding series (LexisNexis)

Problem-Based Study Aids:  These titles include problems/questions and model answers relating to the area of law being discussed.  These study aids usually include essay and multiple choice questions and/or hypotheticals followed by explanations.  Examples include:

  • Acing series (Westlaw)
  • Black Letter Outlines (Westlaw)
  • Examples and Explanations (Wolters Kluwer)
  • Exam Pro (Westlaw)

​​Case Briefs:  Often referred to as "canned" briefs, case briefs summarize the law, facts and analysis of the cases students are assigned from course casebooks.  Many track the actual casebooks themselves.  Canned briefs are not a substitute for reading assigned cases.  They should only be used to test one's understanding or to extract a rule if needed.  Examples of canned briefs include:

  • Casebriefs (Bloomberg Law)
  • High Court Case Summaries (Westlaw)​

Commercial Outlines:  Commercial outlines focus on black letter law and legal rules.  They often include exam tips and sample questions.  Examples include:

  • Black Letter series (Westlaw)
  • Emanuel Law Outlines (Wolters Kluwer)
  • Gilbert Law Summaries (Westlaw)