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Saturday, March 30, 2013

How to Study in Your Car - Redeeming the Time



Incoming law students may be surprised to know that, by-and-large, the first year of law school is the same everywhere and it has been for over one hundred years.  There is an endless supply of commercial material that can be adapted and applied to any law class in the country.  For me, the most useful commercial products were audio lectures.

I have an approximately forty-minute commute to law school and I do carpentry on the side.  All that adds up to a lot of time and the best way for a law student like me to redeem that time is by listening to something productive.

There are several sources of 1L targeted audio lectures and it is helpful to listen to as many different ones as possible, to make sure you are getting a well rounded view of the subject.  If you pay a down payment to Barbri, you will get free access to lectures in each topic. And Themis offers the same basic content for free with no commitment.  You can also find CD's on Amazon.  The two major series are West's Sum and Substance and Gilbert's Law School Legends.  These will be discussed individually by subject.

Another helpful, but different, audio resource is the Audio Version of the Emanuel Crunchtime outline series.  These are more helpful during the last couple weeks before exams. They come as MP3 CD's and are broken down by subject, much like a commercial outline.  They are further divided into three parts: (1) a brief subject outline; (2) a similar outline that focuses on the most common questions and tricks from real law school exams; and (3) over one hundred questions and answers.

 The Audio Version of the Emanuel Crunchtime Outline Series




You should get the crunchtime, audio and print, for every class you attend.  If you cannot afford them, borrow the textbook from the library and use the money you save from that.

The following is a list of what are, in my opinion, the best 1L lectures and where to get the most updated versions:

David Epstein on Contracts - BarBri


David Epstein is amazing and he reminds me a lot of my contracts professor, Lewis Kurlantzick, who is even more amazing, but unfortunately has not produced his own line of audio lectures.  Professor Epstein was the next best thing to having my professor in my car.  You can get the most updated version of his lecture by subscribing to BarBri here.  This lecture alone is worth the $50.  You can also get an older version on Amazon here.

Steven Finz on Torts - Sum and Substance Series, Third Edition, 2005


This is an older lecture and you may notice that I am very specific about the edition.  Unfortunately, Professor Steven Finz died before completing the fourth edition.  Steven Finz was the most entertaining law professor who ever recorded a 1L lecture.  The state of tort law has not changed significantly and an updated crunchtime audio can help you with any changes that might have come up in your class.  This is an older lecture and it is generally expensive, but you should get it anyway.  It's available on Amazon.com HERE.

Rich Freer on Civil Procedure - BarBri


Rich Freer does an excellent job of making Civil Procedure make sense.  Unlike Contracts and Torts, this subject changes every year, so you need to get the most updated lecture.  This means getting it from Barbri, since they update it every year, but that's okay since you should have signed up by now.  Did I mention that Barbri has a mobile app?  The app is pretty bad, but it works.

Paula Franzese on Property - BarBri


Paula Franzese is a little quirky.  She sings songs and uses some really strange mnemonic devices.  But, since many property exams have a closed book multiple choice section, quirky, unforgettable mnemonic devices are exactly what you need.  She is also the author of  A Short & Happy Guide to Property, which is a short, lighthearted and (again) quirky guide to property law. This lecture also comes with Barbri.   Seriously, even if you're not going to take the Bar Exam, just pay the $50.

For a more in depth view of property law, check out these free podcasts of a full property class: Property Law Lectures from Professor Polk Wagner

Joshua Dressler on Criminal Law, Sum and Substance Series, Fifth Edition, 2010


Joshua Dressler is fantastic and he breaks down the Model Penal Code and Common Law separately.  This is important because different professors teach different amounts of each and you need to know where the differing law comes from.  Dressler's Criminal Law lecture is available on Amazon.com HERE.

Erwin Chemerinsky on Constitutional Law - BarBri


Many of my classmates got Chemerinsky's hornbook; it is nationally recognized as one of (if not the) best on the market.  I opted for this BarBri lecture instead.  I listened to it about twenty times and did just as well.

 Other Audio Resources

You can Listen to Supreme Court oral arguments and opinions on Oyez.com.  We've discussed Oyez.com before and you can learn more about it HERE.


Audible audiobooks can be downloaded instantly to an iPod, smartphone or PC and with a subscription, they can be less than ten dollars.  You can download the appropriate app HERE.

The following audiobooks might be helpful to a law student or budding civil rights lawyer: