Yes, 1Ls Should Use Commercial Supplements

The best way to learn to think like a lawyer is to read cases, but the best way to score highly on law school exams is to read and use commercial supplements developed for that very purpose.

Cost is not an issue: it’s trivial in comparison to the cost of a legal education and the potentially greater payoffs that come with good grades.

The 1L year moreover contains the most difficult subject matter you will encounter in law school. With the exception of Criminal Law (which really shouldn’t be mandatory or taught in the first year because it’s a putrid statutory swamp), 1L courses mainly deal in the common law. The uncodified nature of common law permits professors to teach it more or less as the please, with results that will vary by student. However, because the common law is coherent when understood, exams do not vary between professors to nearly the same degree.

Take the Rule Against Perpetuities for a concrete example. No matter what cases you read or who your professor is, the RAP is always going to provide that “no interest is good unless it must vest, if at all, not later than 21 years after some life in being at the time of its creation,” and it will always affect the same fact pattern in the same way. But not all property professors are capable of explaining this in a coherent manner, and some students are inevitably baffled by the complexity of the rules apprehension despite the relative simplicity of its application. However incompetent a teacher the professor may be, I assure you he can score an exam.

Law school exams are universally time-pressured; it’s not useful to be able to get everything right in 4 hours if you only have 3. By far the best way to improve your speed is to practice, particularly on something like the RAP which has several well known exceptions (e.g., Unborn Widow) that are confusing at first but become easily recognizable with experience. If you’ve worked through the Property E&E, you’re going to spot these patterns in a much shorter period of time than an otherwise equally capable student who has not done the practice problems. This is the difference between a B+ and an A.


2 Responses to Yes, 1Ls Should Use Commercial Supplements

  1. I spent the first year of law school thinking I should be able to figure it out for myself. My second year I got into supplements and never looked back. So helpful for studying.

    • Erstwhile 1L says:

      This seems like a pretty common pattern. Probably has a lot to do with trusting the generally very bad advice given by most professors and law school administrations generally.

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