1L Crash Course: Selecting Study Aids

  • E-mail E-mail
  • Google+
  • Reddit Reddit

The weather outside the library is crisp and cool, and the colorful leaves on the trees are mostly gone. For law students, these seasonal changes can mean only one thing: exam season is approaching. If you are a 1L, you will soon find yourself preparing class outlines and other study materials for the first time. If you talk to any 2L or 3L, you’ll likely hear references to a variety of study aids – those wonderful, little books that help you outline, explain complicated legal concepts, and provide you with practice exam questions. They go by many names: Glannon’s, Gilberts, E&E, Short & Happy Guides, etc.

While you have to figure out which study aids are the best for your own study habits through trial and error, I am here today in the hopes of jump-starting the selection process. Remember, you can (and should) use multiple study aids to take advantage of the variety of provided tools!

This blog post should provide you with a general overview of the major titles and their highlights. I will start with the more detailed, treatise-style study aids and finish with the basic outlines and exam practice books. Remember that these study aids will have separate titles dedicated to most law school courses, so you should be able to find multiple study aids for each course you are taking.  

Option 1: Concise Hornbooks Series (West)  

  • What is it? A legal hornbook is a one-volume treatise that summarizes a specific area of law. The explanations themselves are relatively concise and can be very useful in clearing up any confusion or missing pieces within your own class notes. It is also possible to trace the general outline of a specific area of the law through the table of contents for each individual title. View a sample here.

Option 2: Understanding Series (LexisNexis)

  • What is it? The Understanding Series is another hornbook series that includes one-volume treatises on a variety of areas of the law. Much like the Concise Hornbook Series, these titles are best used to explain difficult legal concepts and fill out gaps in your own outlines. View a sample here.
  • Availability: In print in the Law Library Study Aids Collection

Option 3: Nutshell Series (West)

  • What is it? The Nutshell Series is a simplified version of a hornbook. You won’t find exhaustive treatment of every legal issue or element in these books. Instead, Nutshells outline the major concepts in a specific field of law and provide very short summaries. View a sample here.

Option 4: Short & Happy Guides (West)

  • What is it? Similar to the Nutshell Series, the Short & Happy Guides provide condensed explanations of major legal topics. Here you will find explanations of legal principles, practices, and policies in easy-to-digest snippets. View a sample here.

Option 5: Glannon Guides (Wolters Kluwer)

  • What is it? Glannon Guides are a happy medium between hornbooks, general outlines, and practice exam books. They provide you with an overall outline of a particular legal area, along with short explanations of legal issues and a series of practice hypotheticals to test your understanding of each concept. View a sample here.
  • Availability: In print in the Law Library Study Aids Collection

Option 6: Examples & Explanations (Wolters Kluwer)

  • What is it? E&E is perhaps one of the most well-known study aid series out there. Like the Glannon Guides, they provide you with a general outline of a legal topic, along with brief summaries of issues and hypotheticals that allow you to test your knowledge. View a sample here.  
  • Availability: In print in the Law Library Study Aids Collection

This list of options is by no means comprehensive. Be sure to check out the full array of study aids title available to you in your Westlaw Study Aids subscription and in print in the Law Library Study Aids Collection.

Note: Not sure how to access your Westlaw Study Aids subscription? Check out our previous blog post to get more information!


Posted by Melissa M. Hyland on Tue. November 20, 2018 10:32 AM
Categories: Uncategorized


If you are seeing this, you are either using a non-graphical browser or Netscape 4.x (4.7, 4.8, etc.) and this page appears very plain. If you are using a 4.x version of Netscape, this site is fully functional but lacks styles and optimizations available in other browsers. For full functionality, please upgrade your browser to the latest version of Internet Explorer or Firefox.