DePaul University College of Law > Student Resources > Academic Advising > Academic Support Program > Study Aids

Study Aids Explained

A textbook used to instruct law students in a particular area of law. The text consists of a collection of edited court opinions, and notes by the author.

Case briefs:
These are canned briefs such as Legalines and Casenote Legal Briefs. We do not recommend that you use canned briefs. They are not always accurate, and they prevent you from practicing the important skills of extracting issues, rules and holdings from the cases yourself.

Commercial outline:
The two main series are by Gilberts and Emanuel. Commercial outlines are intended to summarize an entire law school course. They often follow the organization of specific casebooks. They provide a general overview of a topic and can serve as a roadmap for preparing your own course outline. A commercial outline should never be a substitute for preparing your own course outline. Emanuel also publishes a Crunchtime series that contains a shorter version of its outlines. (Do not buy this is you already have the more comprehensive Emanuel's outline-it contains everything that is in the Crunchtime series plus much more, for only a few dollars more).

Flash cards:
Can be helpful in preparing for closed book exams where rule memorization is important. The Law in Flash cards for civil procedure has been very popular in the past. These can contain mistakes, so check anything that doesn't seem correct to you. Making your own flash cards is a great study strategy!

Hornbook or treatise:
A book providing a comprehensive overview of one topic, such as contracts or property. Treatises explain the law, setting out rules, policies and examples. Treatises may be one volume or multiple volumes. A hornbook generally refers to a one volume treatise. Hornbooks are generally useful as a reference tool for difficult areas of a course, but do not lend themselves to cover to cover reading. The law library has hornbooks for all 1L courses. The ASP office has some as well. Hornbooks are expensive to buy, so take advantage of the ones in the library or ASP office.

Law review:
A scholarly periodical edited by students at a law school. Articles in law reviews are written by law professors, practicing lawyers and law students. The articles describe the current state of the law, but also explore underlying policies and critique current rules. The articles tend to deal with the finer points of law, rather than providing an overview of a topic. Most law review articles will not be helpful to first year law students. Occasionally a professor will recommend an article because it provides an excellent overview of a topic covered in class. In that case, you should read it!

Restatements attempt to unify the existing common case law in certain areas. They are written in the form of rules with explanations and examples. They are not binding as law.

Primer and other textual study aids:
These are a group of books in between commercial outlines and hornbooks. They cover one topic in text form, but are not as comprehensive as a hornbook. They can provide an excellent overview of a subject. Some examples are the Concepts and Insights series by Foundation Press, the Understanding series by Lexis Publishing, and the Examples and Explanations series by Aspen Publishing. West also publishes a Nutshell series, which provides a shorter, less comprehensive analysis of a subject, but may give a useful overview. For recommendations for specific courses, see the academic support office.

Questions and Answers:
There are several publications that contain sample questions that you can use to practice for law school exams, and these contain answers as well so you can verify that you are on track with you studying. The Siegel's series by Aspen contains both essay and multiple choice questions. Lexis publishes a Q & A series of multiple choice and short answer questions. There is also an Exam Pro series published by West that has objective questions and answers. Many commercial outlines and textual study aids discussed above contain come practice essay and objective questions as well.