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UC Berkeley School of Law Library UC Berkeley School of Law Library BerkeleyLaw Library

Study Aids: Introduction

Electronic Study Aids

The Law Library subscribes to most study aids series both in print and online.  Almost every major legal publisher puts out one or more series of study aids, and with a few exceptions, they are available electronically.

LexisNexis Digital Library study aids: Access the Understanding Series and Questions & Answers Series through the LexisNexis Digital Library. Login with CalNet, click to "Browse library" and select the Study Aids collection. 

West Academic Study Aids Online and Streaming Audio:  Access all of the West's study aids through West Academic Study Aids. Over 500 of West's titles including Hornbooks, Nutshells, Gilbert's and Black Letter outlines series, Law Stories series, Acing series, and Career Guides are available in full text. You can also listen to lectures from West's two streaming audio collections, Sum & Substance and Law School Legends, by streaming them from the West Academic site. Create your own account to highlight, take notes, download, and print.

Aspen Learning Library: Aspen Learning Library includes the popular Examples & Explanations series; the publisher offers this comparison chart of their series geared towards the beginning, middle, and end (exam period) of the semester.

Quimbee: Access over 10,000 searchable case briefs written by experts. Quimbee also has outlines, an outlining tool, on-demand videos, practice questions with answer explanations, practice exams, and model answers among other tools. The library's Quimbee page gives instructions for setting up your account.

Bloomberg Law:  The Law School Course Resources toolkit on Bloomberg Law offers tips on Class Preparation such as "How to Outline," "How to Use Study Guides," as well as links for database resources relevant to First Year, Legal Research & Writing, and Advanced Courses. Registration information for Bloomberg Law was included in your 1L computing orientation material.

CALI (Computer Assisted Legal Instruction): Series of online lessons covering over 30 legal topics including sections on 1L through upper level 2L and 3L courses. Login with CalNet at the library's CALI page for the student registration code and instructions.

Overview

Study Aids!  We have them - what are they and why use them?

 

What are Study Aids?

Study aids are introductory texts that explain various topics of law in a straightforward, narrative manner.  They include the Nutshells, Examples & Explanations and Understanding Series as well as Outlines with practice questions.  Almost every major legal publisher puts out at least one series of study aids. Hornbooks and treatises provide more thorough, detailed examinations of the law.

Why Use Study Aids?

Study aids help you prepare for class and exams.  They review and reinforce class instruction, they complement your own reading, class preparation and outlining. You may want to ask you professors for specific recommendations. (For examples of exams given by Berkeley Law professors in previous semesters, see the Library's exam database.) Your classmates and the reference librarians may also have additional suggestions for supplementary reading.

What Study Aids are Available at the Law Library?

This guide focuses on the study aids covering Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, Contracts, Property, Torts and Legal Research & Writing.  However there are many additional study aids for most subjects taught in law school.  They are available online, accessible through the Law Library's database list and in the Library's Reserves Collection  in print. You can find them by searching Lawcat, our online catalog, by subject, series, or call number. 

You also have access to Computer Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI - log in with CalNet for registration instructions) for online, interactive computer-based lessons.

Does the Library have Study Aids in print as well as online?

Current editions of all print study aids are in the Reserve Collection and can be checked out for 4 hour library use.  Older editions of Nutshell Series are in the stacks and can be checked out.  This guide indicates "Location:Stacks" for those few treatises listed that are not in the Reserve Collection. 

 

Study Aids by Type/Series

Nutshells (West)

West Publishing's Nutshells provide concise narrative explanations of the major doctrines in each substantive area of law. They offer a good introduction to key concepts and legal terminology and jargon.

Understanding Series (LexisNexis)

The Understanding Series is available on the LexisNexis Digital Library.  They also provide concise explanations of the basic contours of particular areas of law, they tend to be more extensive than the Nutshells and include more references to cases.

Examples & Explanations (Aspen Learning Library)

A popular series, the E&E texts are one of several study aid series included in the Aspen Learning Library.  They describe doctrine and add hypotheticals and questions to check your understanding.

Commercial Outlines

Emanuel Law Outlines (Aspen Learning Library), Gilbert Law Summaries (West) and Black Letter Outlines (West) are topic-specific outlines suitable for use when preparing for exams. They can also aid you in your own outlining for class. Many outlines are "keyed" to particular casebooks and provide a table correlating casebook pages to the relevant outline section. Quimbee also offers many topic outlines.

Exam Prep

Many of the online platforms for study aids include materials designed specifically for exam preparation, often including practice questions and sample answers - look for collections in West Academic Study Aids, Aspen Learning Library, and Quimbee.

The Siegel’s series is available only in print in the Reserve Collection, and offers essay and multiple choice questions and answers.

Hornbooks (West)

West Publishing's Hornbooks are explanatory texts that address the major questions in the areas of law that are taught in law school. They often provide answers and explanations to some of the questions presented by your casebooks.

Legal Treatises

Treatises can be useful both for explanation and for further research. They vary in quality and authoritativeness, but all offer a detailed examination of their respective areas of law. The tabs on this guide point you to the major treatises for each of the first-year subjects.

Audio Study Aids - Lectures and Courses

  • Two audio lecture series, by experts covering a range of legal topics, are available for streaming on West Academic Study Aids. Find the Sum & Substance and the Law School Legends series under the "Series" pull down menu. 
  • Aspen Learning Library provides access to the In Other Words Audio Series. Below the search bar, click the "Audio" tab for list of topics. 

Using LawCat to Find Study Aids

You may browse the Law Library's collection of Study Aids by coming to the Reserve Collection, or to view a list of many of the commonly used study aids, search LawCat for the call number "study aids":

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