Dear 1L student,

No doubt friends, family, and complete strangers have given you advice about how to handle the law school experience.  The research attorneys at the law library have some advice for you too: using the study aids found in the library’s reserve collection will improve your study experience.

The books discussed below are available for two-hour checkout from the circulation desk, or overnight if you check them out within two hours of closing.  The library circulation desk closes at 8 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5 p.m on Friday-Saturday.  You can renew the book when it is due if you are still using it.

Overview of law school.  What are my classes about?  How should I study and take notes?  How do I prepare for exams?  Cornell Law School Orientation does a great job answering these questions, but take a look at these resources for more info:

  • Law School Success: A Guide to Studying Law and Taking Law School Exams.  Call number KF 283 .B871x 2008  Easy to read and conversational in tone.  I recommend Chapter 10, Learning After Class, and Chapter 12 on Exams.  The last part of the book provides sample exams and answers.
  • Understanding Law School.  Call number KF 283 .U53 2004.  Provides a detailed overview of 1L classes.  I recommend Appendix B, American Legal Systems: A Resource and Reference Guide by Toni M. Fine.
  • Preview the available sample exams from your professor on the registrar’s Web site (login required; availability varies).

See the Big Picture: Nutshells.  The Nutshell series of books provide an overview of legal topics.  These books are helpful introductions to the topic before and after you study to help you get the perspective you need to put all the pieces together and make sure your outlines make sense.  They are brief, quick reads.  This semester you should look at:

Refine the Outline: Hornbooks.  Hornbooks are more detailed than Nutshells.  Basically, hornbooks are textbooks for studying law.  In contrast with the case books used in class, hornbooks provide detailed explanations.  Use hornbooks to help you review the finer points you may have misunderstood in class.  One caveat: your professor may emphasize points not found in the Hornbook and skip over others.  Pay attention to what is covered in class so you focus your efforts on the right topics.  Here are some hornbooks to use this semester:

Deepen Your Understanding With Examples & Explanations.  The Examples & Explanations series from Aspen Publishers provides hypothetical examples with explanations showing how legal principles apply to those examples.  These books are great for preparing for exams and helpful for those of us who learn better using concrete examples.  This semester you should look at:

Questions about study aids?  Ask a research attorney at the reference desk or email your Lawyering research instructor.

2 Responses to “Law school success for 1Ls”

  1. Is there a way to look up past exams?

  2. Go to the CLS registrar’s Web page http://registrar.lawschool.cornell.edu/exam_policies.cfm, then click Online Exam Archives. There are also some really old former exams near the microfilm drawers just outside the reading room. Ask at the reference desk if you need assistance. Thanks for the question.

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