Now for the books that are going to help me through it:
I’m dedicated to this prep, but I’m also on a budget…of aabboouuttt $0.
Therefore the resources I use will be what I can find for free online, or check out from a library.
I’ve had some good luck in finding the main books I wanted free online. There’s this website http://www.pdfsearchengine.org that allows you to search for strictly pdfs. Using this site and just google in general I was able to find all the bolded titles for free. I’m still searching for some of the books (currently searching libraries and used book stores around me), but overall I’m happy with what I’ve found so far and I think it’ll help me with my goals.
Books I want
1. Getting to maybe by Jeremy Paul
Relates to Goals #3, 5, 6, 7 (and kind of 4)
For anyone looking into prep I’d say this is one of the most important books on the list. Everyone talks about this book and says its a good introduction to law school and summer prep. It’s written by a couple law professors (which is a great point of view considering they have the real background on what goes into writing exams) and aims to teach you the basics and tools for “excelling at law school exams”. For most books there are mixed reviews or some people used them some didn’t etc. but this book it seems, everyone has used it and raves about it.
Critiques: The only (possibly) “bad” thing I’ve heard about it is that some of the advice is good advice but is too general which may make it less practical and difficult to apply.
I’m not getting that vibe yet but I’m only on chapter 3. I like it a lot so far, it’s easy to understand and their “fork” metaphor for analyzing situations is something easy to remember and apply as I learn more. But I’ll give an update once I finish each book, (and as I’m completing each goal), and then a real review during the semester talking about whether or not this was actually helpful.
2. 1L of a Ride by Andrew McClurg
Relates to Goal #7
This is a “law school survival” type of book. It compiles a bunch of different perspectives from student and faculty into a coherent book. It gives you an idea of what law school will be like, what to expect, how to stay motivated and then an intro to study tips and things like briefing etc. This book I can’t seem to find anywhere (but online to order). I went to a used book store, and then to Barnes&Nobles. I also checked a couple catalogs of the small libraries closest to me but none of them have it so my next hope is the big Los Angeles library, and then if not I’m going to try a university library or law library. I won’t be able to check it out but I can sit and read it and that’s fine too.
This isn’t an absolute necessity book, it seems to kind of give a lot of the same insight you can find online in forums or through bloggers so I don’t think it’ll significantly harm my prep if I don’t get it. However, I am still interested in reading it if I can find it free or for a reasonable price.
Critiques: I haven’t seen many but in general a negative would be that this isn’t the only book you’ll need for prep and it won’t prepare you in the same ways that Getting to Maybe or LEEWS will. It’s basically just like those books everyone tried to get you for undergrad “How to Survive College/College 101/Surviving Freshman Year” type of thing, but as corny as that may seem it still offers some good insight.
3. Law Essay Exam Writing System (aka LEEWS)
Relates to Goals #3, 6, 7 (and kind of 2)
LEEWS, like Getting to Maybe, also aims to prepare you as much as possible for law school exams. It gives a systematic approach to law school classes and exams by giving extensive tips on essay writing, exam set up, outlining, etc. and providing an efficient briefing method that helps you pull out the black letter law in cases and focus only on the facts that are needed. This is also one of those prep materials that is talked a lot about in forums and on blogs. A lot of it is good talk, and even those who aren’t raving about it have said it is useful and worth a look.
Critiques: Some have said it’s not a very flexible system and has to be tweaked in order to apply to every exam question type and law class, but for what it covers (torts and issue exam questions) it does a great job.
Next critique is that it’s super expensive. Like $150-175 expensive. It is also not exactly a “book”. You can buy a book that gives you the information, but the “real thing” is a series of lectures (8 CDs worth or a couple days worth of an in person conference) and then some supplement materials that help you follow the lecture. So depending on the type of person you are it could be difficult to get through (aka me because I’d fall asleep).
Additionally, the reviews are highly mixed (which is discouraging considering the price). Some people say its an extreme waste of money and time (because he drags on for 8 lectures what could easily be written in a book or fit into less talking), and some say it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread and they couldn’t have survived without it. Basically, no review or 0L prep advice has convinced me it’s worth $150+, but I have been convinced it has a great briefing method and that it’s worth a look.
Since it’s not a book I’ve had a hard time finding it “whole” online or at libraries but I have found some parts of the supplements I think would be most useful in PDF form. They give an introduction to LEEWS, overview of LEEWS, the case briefing method, and advice on surviving the socratic method which addresses the main things people seem to get out of it.
4. How to Do Your Best on Law School Exams by John Delaney
Relates to Goals #3,5,6,7
The title says it all. This book focuses on teaching you how to study, outline, and practice to excel at law exams. It’s similar to getting to maybe but focuses on a more formulaic style of exam writing. Getting to Maybe talks a lot about ambiguities and therefore doesn’t really advocate for adhering to strict “formulas” like I.R.A.C. or this book’s similar acronym, but formulas and systems can be helpful (especially when your just starting) so I think reading both would be a really great way to get the big picture and form my own kind of hybrid method for looking at things. Not too strict that I can’t use it broadly, but not too free that my writing or studying style lacks organization. Still on the hunt for this one but I think the main library might have it.
No critiques for this one.
5. Plain English for Lawyers by Richard Wydick
Relates to Goals #2 and 7
This is pretty simple it’s just an introduction to legal writing. It focuses on teaching you to write clearly and concisely while adhering to the specifics of “legal writing”. Luckily I found the PDF version of this book as well but if I hadn’t I would’ve bought it. This book is a good investment because not only is it great for prep but it’s also something good to reference through out law school and your legal career.
No Critiques for this one.
6. Learning Legal Reasoning by John Delaney OR Thinking Like a Lawyer by Frederick Schauer
Relates to Goals #4, 7 (and kind of 5)
These books give an intro to legal reasoning covering things like rules, precedent, authority, analogical reasoning, common law, interpretation, legal realism, judicial opinions, legal facts, burden of proof etc. etc. The very basics of law and getting your brain into the habit of legal thinking.
So these books are pretty different from the others because they are technically, sorta kinda, substantive books which I said I wasn’t into. But, in their defense they aren’t “real” substantive books and they still follow along the lines of using this prep to build a great foundation that I can continue building on throughout the semester. They don’t go into the specifics of any type of law in the same way that a Hornbook for Property law might, instead they just lay down the basics.
I didn’t write these as 2 separate books because I don’t think you need both. I think “Thinking Like a Lawyer” is a lot more recent and therefore might be more relatable and easier to read, but reviews have said they are both great books, and if I found either one I’d be happy.
That’s all for materials!
The next and last post will be a short and sweet overview of my plans (i.e. finish a book a week, the order I plan to read them and so on) and will have the links to my favorite 1L advice posts.
Here is a short list of other books I’ve heard about for 0L prep but probably won’t be using (mainly because it’s similar to something up there)
1. Writing a Legal Memo (Similar to Plain English for lawyers. I may buy it later on, but I don’t think I need it right now for prep.)
2. Law School Confidential (Similar to 1L of a Ride)
3. Planet Law School (I don’t need it but I may look at this if I have free time later this summer. This is like 1L of a Ride but is said to cover some of the more darker aspects of Law School, like tips for not getting depressed in an environment that increases your chances for depression by 40% etc. It isn’t a necessity but I’m curious about what insight it gives so I may change my mind about wanting this one.)