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George W. Hopper Law Library|College of Law

First Year Study Aids

Although most of the reading for your first year of law school will be in required case books or readings assigned by your professors, there are some additional study aids that can be very helpful during your first year.  These aids can be used to clarify certain points of law, to gain an indepth understanding of various rules of law, or as guides when studying for exams.  These resources are hornbooks, nutshells, and commercial outlines and are available on reserve at the Law Library Circulation Desk. 


Hornbooks are generally single volumes, although frequently of 500 pages or more, that cover a single area of law in a coherent, explanatory fashion.  Hornbooks are frequently written by the same authors that wrote your casebook and usually cover the same leading cases and rules of law.     Hornbooks can be used to clarify points of law or cases that are unclear. They can also be used for outlining and reviewing material in preparation for final examinations.  Some hornbooks that cover first year classes are listed below.  These books are available at the Circulation Desk and can be checked out for three hours. 

Popular first year hornbooks are: 

Shapo, Principles of Tort Law, 2d ed                          Reserve  KF 1250 .Z9 .S53 2003

Perillo, Calamari and Perillo on Contracts, 6th ed        Reserve  KF 801 .C26 2009

Stoebuck and Whitman, The Law of Property, 3d ed    Reserve  KF 570 .C86 2000

LaFave, Criminal Law, 4th ed                                     Reserve KF 9219 .L38 2003 


Nutshells are a series of paperback books that cover a single legal subject in an easily readable format with less discussion of cases and more general explanation of the rules of law.  Nutshells that will be useful for first year students are: 

Contracts                    Reserve KF 801 .Z9 .R62 2006

Criminal Law               Reserve KF 9219.85 .L63 2009

Real Property              Reserve KF 570 .Z9 .B47 2005

Torts                          Reserve KF 1250 .Z9 .K53 2005  


Outlines are commercially produced guides that set out the rules of law and exceptions to the rules for a given legal subject.   Some faculty warn against using the commercially produced works as it can influence a student's own efforts at compiling their outline for final exams.  They can be a good overview of a legal topic, though.  Several legal publishers produce sets of outlines on various topics.  Some of the most popular are: Black Letter series, published by WestExamples and Explanations, published by Aspen Publishing Understanding series, published by LexisNexis.

Other Resources    

Another set of materials that students request frequently is the CD collection, Sum and Substance.  These audio CDs on a variety of legal subject are convenient, especially for commuters.  All of the Sum and Substance CDs are located in our Main Media collection in the Reference area.  The first year subjects that are available include: 

Constitutional Law                KF 4550 .C53 2005

Contracts                            KF 802 .Z9 W52 2007

Legal Research                    KF 240 .B47 2001

Torts                                  KF 1250 .A2 F46 2005 


Last updated 2/10 



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