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First Year Study Aids: Introduction

First Year 1st year - 2013 Nov

NEW - West Online Study Aids

The Law Library is testing out a subscription to West's online study aids. This subscription gives students unlimited online access to more than 430 titles from West Academic Publishing. Over ten series are available, including Acing, Black Letter, Exam Pro, Gilberts, Sum & Substance Quick Reviews, and more.

To access the online study aids, follow the directions below.

First Year Study Aids


This guide presents a selection of Restatements of the LawExamples & ExplanationsQuestions & Answers, the Acing series, Short & Happy Guides, Nutshells, the Mastering series, hornbooks, and treatises that may help to clarify or explain some of the legal issues being discussed in your classes. This list is merely a starting point. Your professors, the reference librarians, or your classmates may have additional suggestions for supplementary or explanatory reading.

In addition to the material listed below, the Library also carries Emanuel's commercial outlines. For examples of exams given by CUA professors in previous semesters, see the Library's exam web page.

Another useful set of tools is Computer Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) — interactive computer-based lessons. CALI is available on the web and you should have received an authorization card from your LSP professor.

Restatements of the Law

Restatements are attempts by the American Law Institute (ALI) to restate, synthesize, or explicate the common law. ALI is a prestigious body of scholars and practitioners, and so their interpretation of the law has persuasive authority in the U.S. legal system. However, the Restatements are not binding legal authority. You will see references to the Restatements in your casebooks.

Examples & Explanations Series

Examples & Explanations titles are published by Aspen. This series offers hypothetical questions in the subject area, complemented by detailed explanations that allow you to test your knowledge of the topic, and compare your own analysis.

Question & Answers Series

A LexisNexis series of study guides with multiple-choice and short-answer questions arranged topically for ease of use during the semester, with questions comprising a comprehensive practice exam. Detailed answers indicate which of four options is the best answer and explain why that option is better than the other three options.

Mastering Series

The Mastering Series includes key features designed to improve learning and retention including a Roadmap (introduces the chapter and provides readers with an overview of the material that will be covered), Checkpoints (at the end of each chapter reviews the key concepts), and a Master Checklist (at the end of each book reinforces what has been covered and helps readers identify any areas that need review or further study).

Acing Series

In the Acing series from West, each chapter starts with a summary of the black letter law on the topic or subtopic, followed by a checklist presenting the series of issues that must be understood in order to evaluate a legal problem. There are numerous hypothetical problems in the style of law school exams, with answers. The chapters conclude with a short list of Points to Remember.

Short & Happy Guides

The aim of these guides is to present complex legal topics in simple, understandable terms, injected with humor. Popular with students, they provide exam tips and other tools to make important principles easier to remember.  


Nutshells provide a concise narrative explanation of the major doctrines in each substantive area of law, and offer a good introduction to key concepts and legal terminology and jargon.

Understanding Series

The LexisNexis Understanding series of titles, like West's Nutshells, concisely explain the basic contours of a particular area of law. The Understanding titles tend to be more extensive than the Nutshells, including references to more cases.


Hornbooks are explanatory texts that address the major questions in the areas of law that are taught in law school. As Law Librarian Bob Berring has said, most law school casebooks are "filled with questions and conundrums, not answers." One of the nice features of hornbooks is that they often provide answers and explanations to some of the conundrums presented by your casebooks. Hornbooks are not suitable for cover to cover reading. Use the table of contents, index, or table of cases to focus on your particular questions.

Legal Treatises

We have also included some of the major, frequently multiple volume treatises that cover your first year subjects. These vary in quality and authority, but all offer an extremely detailed examination of their respective areas of law. They can be useful both for explanation and for doing research. Use the index and table of cases to find specific topics.





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