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Fordham University Law Library

First Year Study Aids   Tags: first years, hornbooks, nutshells, outlines, study aids, study guides  

Last Updated: Nov 11, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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The following is a selection of Restatements of the Law, Nutshells, Examples & Explanations, Questions & Answers, 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.

Many of the materials listed in this guide are in Open Reserve (on Stack 3) and CANNOT be checked out; however, older editions of the same title may be available under the stame call number in the Stacks.  To locate items within the library, use our Call Number Location Chart.


Types of Study Aids

  1. Popular Series

  • 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.
  • Nutshells:  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.  

  1. Restatements

  • 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.  
  1. Hornbooks
  • Hornbooks are explanatory texts that address the major questions in the areas of law that are taught in law school. 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. 
  1. Treatises
  • Legal treatises are simply scholarly legal works in a particular area of law.  Included in this research guide are some of the major, frequently multiple volume treatises that cover first year subjects; for additional titles, please consult our research guide on Finding Legal Treatises. 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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