Category Archives: Tutorials

Flash Cards and Flowcharts: Optimizing Study for Your Learning Style

With stare decisis imbuing law and legal study with a sense of tradition, you might hesitate to deviate from the well worn strategies to prepare for your finals. But the law is a dynamic beast, and if something isn’t working for you, it’s up to you to make a change.

Study aids are increasingly catering to the vast diversity of learning methods that suit different law students best, from visual aids such as flow charts to practice questions to audio and visual resources.

MAKE YOUR OWN FLOWCHARTS

Flowcharts guide you through a legal issue, asking questions about the facts each step of the way to determine whether an element applies, and whether the analysis should continue. The structure of arrows and boxes is a big help for visual learners who quickly absorb information in tools such as graphics and maps. It can also help break down a complicated legal analysis into manageable, bite size bits, demystifying questions about estates in land or the Erie doctrine.

You can make your own flowcharts in Google Slides. You can choose shapes with the shapes tool that symbolize steps along the way of a legal analysis, such as rectangles for yes or no questions and ovals for the various potential outcomes of the analysis. The line tool includes an option with arrows to help you organize a complicated analysis, including curves and angled lines to help you fit all elements of a rule into your document. Making your own flowchart helps you process the rules yourself, and understand the process in a different way from traditional distilling of the rules into words alone.

MAKE YOUR OWN FLASHCARDS

It’s no secret that part of the challenge of studying law is memorizing vast swaths of information. It’s a big part of the bar exam. Your outline is an important part of that process of committing the law to your memory, but reading and rereading does not always work optimally for everyone. Sometimes we want to hide the ball from ourselves and see if we can remember what res ipsa loquituris all about without seeing the answer right underneath, and that’s where flashcards come in handy.

The Law Library has a collection of flashcards in its study skills section, and online study aid platforms have a few more resources that may be helpful. Writing your own cards can help you process the information on a much deeper level, though, as you process the law and craft your own rule statements. Here again, Google Slides can help, with a template that helps you quickly craft slides with the title of a legal doctrine, say, promissory estoppel, on one side and the explanation or rule statement on the other. This also enables you to add images that you associate with particular concepts—say, a shoe for personal jurisdiction, or a barrel for res ipsa loquitur.

TRADITIONAL OUTLINING TIPS

  • Organize your outline by topic. Your syllabus may be a good guide. Write solid rule statements that you can quickly transcribe or modify to use on your exam. As we can see from past exams on the library website, you won’t always have lots of time to reinvent good rule statements on test day.
  • Write a one page attack outline just listing all of the legal doctrines you discussed in class and studied in your casebook. Test conditions can push your brain into overdrive and legal issues may be well hidden in a fact pattern. Just glancing at your sheet and seeing the rule that you should be analyzing can be the difference between spotting an issue before time runs out and realizing you missed an issue while watching Emily in Paris after you turn it in.
  • Again, know yourself! You won’t have a lot of time to review your outline during the exam, so you want to be concise. Focus your attention on areas that might not be intuitive to you. Trying to rewrite your casebook, however, might just be an exhausting distraction from more productive study activities, such as running through practice questions.

Meet with a Librarian for more study tips. Good luck!

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Find What You Need: One Search and the Library Catalog

In the video below, we will explain how to perform searches and interact with the library’s catalog. This will cover library borrowing policies and the (enormous) scope of content available to you as both a member of ASU community and Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. We cover keyword searches, course reserves, the catalog of print and online items ASU Library owns, and microform materials.

If you need assistance, you may chat with us, send us an email, or make an appointment to Meet with a Librarian via Zoom.

1L of a Ride Video Course and Much More from West Academic

West Academic has a video course for first year law students. The 1L of a Ride video course is by Andrew McClurg, a professor at the University of Memphis School of Law. He wrote the law school prep book, 1L of a Ride on which this course is based.

  • 1L of a Ride Video Course is a candid, comprehensive road map to both academic and emotional success in law school’s crucial first year.

You may also want to take a look at these digital books from West Academic.

Critical Reading for Success
Presents critical reading strategies in a systematic sequence so you can become an effective reader in both law school and in practice.

Get a Running Start
Covers all the major concepts taught in each of the courses most commonly offered in the first year of law school.

A Short and Happy Guide® to Being a Law Student
Learn how to be your best in and out of class, how to prepare for exams, how to cope with stress, and how to create value in everything you do.

If you don’t have a West Academic account, you can create one here: Create Your West Academic Account 

Law Library Tour and Orientation Videos: Quick YouTube Videos to Get You Up to Speed

The Law Library has a YouTube channel!  We have a series of New Student Orientation videos you can watch at your convenience to get you started on your road to success in law school. You will learn about our resources and what our expert staff can do to help you throughout your law school experience.

Here, you can watch Associate Director, Tara Mospan take you on a short tour of the third floor library space, the circulation desk, and the library’s dedicated Zoom reference room.

The reference librarians are happy to give you advice on which study aids may be right for you. You may check them out using the self-checkout machine located on the east end of the circulation desk or with the help of the friendly circulation desk staff.

We also introduce you to the resources available on the Law Library’s homepage and in its catalog, with tips on making an appointment with a librarian and the plethora of resources to help you that we have compiled in our New Student Guide. The video One Search and Library Catalog demonstrates searching for materials and accessing them, including an explanation of how to retrieve materials from other branches of ASU Library.

We also introduce the wide variety of extremely useful study aids available to you through our subscriptions to West Academic and Wolters Kluwer, including how to set up your own account so you can access all study materials away from campus. Materials on CALI can supplement your course lectures when you run into tricky topics.

For your clinical classes, we have a First Year Legal Writing Guide to help you write memos and deliver winning oral arguments. We can also help you format your citations. The video Meet with a Librarian tells you how you can set up an appointment with us to discuss all your research assignments, in which we can provide feedback on your research and tips on how to quickly find what you need.

Finally, we will discuss our social media presence, and how checking out our blog can help you succeed. We will have advice for you throughout the semester. So welcome! And best of luck!

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Your Professional Obligation Not to Overlook the MPRE

While the MPRE, or Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam, is the smaller and less grueling of the two exams required for admission to the bar in Arizona and most other states, failure to respect its significance can cost you valuable time.

The MPRE is administered only three times per year, in spring, summer, and fall, so students who miss the minimum 85 score required to pass in Arizona could face a long wait to retake it. And the spring and fall exams can become a burden in the middle of a law school semester. To help you avoid this potential speedbump, the Ross-Blakley Law Library has updated its Bar Exam and MPRE Resources Library Guide to highlight MPRE study resources and exam preparation courses.  

In addition to valuable resources in the print Study Skills collection on the third floor in front of the circulation desk, the library subscribes to online study resources to help you master legal ethics. Wolters Kluwer offers Strategies and Tactics for the MPRE, which provides tips and dozens of practice questions to help you prepare for the two-hour MPRE, which includes sixty multiple choice questions. West Academic, for its part, offers an efficient resource for last minute MPRE preppers, The Weekend MPRE, which includes two full length practice exams.

For students seeking more depth in their knowledge pool of professional responsibility, CALI offers a series of lessons highlighting specific issues arising under the law governing lawyers. Wolters Kluwer, in addition, provides detailed guidance in solving legal ethical problems in Examples & Explanations: Professional Responsibility.

For perhaps a preview of the bar exam preparation course to follow, a number of exam preparation companies offer free MPRE preparation courses (see box at top right). Finally, we have compiled Web resources including the full texts of the rules and commentary governing attorney and judicial conduct, as well as resources offering valuable advice on study and exam taking skills.

For additional help choosing materials to prepare for the MPRE, the bar exam, or law school exams or research projects in general, please Meet with a Librarian.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Practical Research Skills Workshop Series: Get the Edge on How to Exceed Your Employers’ and Professors’ Expectations

The librarians at the Ross-Blakley Law Library have prepared a video series for you. Our Practical Research Skills Workshop Series will help you get the edge on how to exceed your employers’ and professors’ expectations. We share our expertise on legal research, in a friendly, fast-paced format that you can watch at your own pace. We help you navigate primary law including statutes and regulations as well as help you build your practical skills by sharing our insights on topics like litigation tools and legal search algorithms.

Practical Research Skills Workshop Series

What the series covers:

Federal Statutes & State Statutes

Learn how to find and navigate statutes in research databases and on government websites. We highlight case law that courts rely on to resolve disputes concerning statutory interpretation to help you perform professional statutory research for your employer.

Code of Federal Regulations, Federal Register, Arizona Regulations 
Master how to navigate and use the Code of Federal Regulations, the Federal Register, and Arizona’s regulatory frameworks so that you can master interpreting and applying regulatory rules on the job.

Search Algorithms, Data Analytics, Ravel & Advanced Searching
Not all databases are transparent about how they return results based on your search terms but understanding how the search tools operate can help you research more effectively and efficiently.

Practice Tools: Settlements Data & Litigation Analytics, Litigation Tools, Standard Documents & Transactions, Practice Notes & Checklists
Practical tools can help you impress your assigning attorney. These include resources to learn the law, to manage a legal project, to efficiently draft legal documents, and to compare the client’s situation to past deals and cases.

We are always here to help you whether you are a current student or a graduate. If you have questions or want to discuss these subjects in more depth, feel free to Ask a Librarian or make an appointment to meet via Zoom.

Five Reasons You Should Make CALI Your Study Partner

CALI Lessons are online interactive tutorials that cover narrow topics of law. CALI publishes over 1,000 lessons covering 40 different legal subject areas. These lessons have been used over 10 million times by law students over the years. To access CALI, click here: Using CALI

#1- CALI Lessons are another way to learn the law.
CALI Lessons are another way to learn the law. They are interactive web-based tutorials that both teach and apply your understanding of what you just read. You learn the law from casebook readings, faculty instruction, and from supplements. Many commercial supplements are not written by law faculty and are simplified and watered down versions of the law. CALI Lessons are not. CALI Lessons present hypothetical situations and then quiz you on your understanding using follow-up questions and branching to make sure you got the right answer for the right reasons.

#2- CALI Lessons are a formative assessment for you.
Do you want to make sure you are understanding what you study? The only way to be sure is to assess and CALI lessons provide a form of self-assessment. You get feedback on every question – whether you get it right or wrong – and you get a final score that tells you how you are doing on a specific legal topic.

#3- CALI Lessons are interactive and engaging.
CALI Lessons are not videos that you passively watch. The material is modeled on Socratic Dialogue where a question is asked, you answer the question, and then various aspects of the topic are explored. CALI Lessons are written by tenured law faculty with many years of teaching experience (law librarians author the legal research lessons). The lessons purposefully steer you into thinking about the topic in a nuanced way.

#4- CALI Lessons are rigorous.
It is difficult to get a perfect score on most CALI Lessons the first time through. Law is complex and CALI lessons dive into that complexity. Each lesson covers a specific topic without getting too broad in scope. The questions are tough and require serious thought from the student. A typical lesson takes 20 to 40 minutes for a student to complete. You can take lessons multiple times to improve your understanding.

#5- CALI Lessons are a good learning appetizer or an excellent learning dessert.
CALI Lessons are an excellent learning experience as a first bite at the material. They prepare you for class or subsequent readings. The material is brief and rigorous exposing you to the concepts and nomenclature of a topic without being drilled and practiced to death. In addition, CALI Lessons are excellent for study after class (alone or in a study group), after the casebook readings, or for studying for the final exam. They provide immediate and substantive feedback that can direct you to the places where further study is required.

To access CALI, click here: Using CALI

Library Summer Research Workshop Series

The Ross-Blakley Law Library is pleased to announce the 2017 Summer Research Workshop Series. Five different workshop topics are being offered; each topic is intended to help Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law students participating in summer associate or externship opportunities improve their real-world legal research skills.

Each workshop will be offered at three different times to accommodate varying work schedules – please feel free to come to any session of any workshop. We look forward to seeing you this summer! Please contact Tara Mospan with any questions at tara.mospan@asu.edu.

Workshop #1 – Best practices for starting a research project
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
– 7:30-8:30am – BCLS 352

Wednesday, May 17, 2017
– 12:00-1:00pm – BCLS 450
– 6:00-7:00pm – BCLS 352

Workshop #2 – Researching state and federal statutes
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
– 7:30-8:30am – BCLS 352

Wednesday, May 24, 2017
– 12:00-1:00pm – BCLS 450
– 6:00-7:00pm – BCLS 352

Workshop #3 – Researching state and federal regulations
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
– 7:30-8:30am – BCLS 352
– 12:00-1:00pm – BCLS 250
– 6:00-7:00pm – BCLS 352

Workshop #4 – Terms & connectors/advanced search techniques
Tuesday, June 06, 2017
– 7:30-8:30am – BCLS 352

Wednesday, June 07, 2017
– 12:00-1:00pm – BCLS 650
– 6:00-7:00pm – BCLS 352

Workshop #5 – Free (and reliable!) research resources
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
– 7:30-8:30am – BCLS 352

Wednesday, June 14, 2017
– 12:00-1:00pm – BCLS 250
– 6:00-7:00pm – BCLS 352

CALI: Like Having Your Own Tutor

CALI, the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction, is a consortium of law schools that researches and develops computer-mediated legal instruction. The CALI Library of Lessons includes more than 800 lessons covering over 30 legal education subject areas. They are designed to augment traditional law school instruction, and are written by law faculty and librarians.

As an ASU Law Student you have access to hundreds of CALI lessons and tutorials.  Stop by the front desk of the Law Library for your free authorization code and register online at www.cali.org.  We also have free CALI cds at the front desk.

You can also obtain a password here:  CALI Guide.  You will be asked for your ASUrite login and password.

Some lessons that might be useful for first year law students include:

Have fun with CALI!

 

Legislative History Research Resources

Legislative history research got you down? Here are some great resources to help you navigate the waters.

Research Guides:

 

CALI lessons:

 

Tutorials:

 
 
Webinars:
 
ProQuest has several upcoming webinars for thier Congressional Digital Suite and Legislative Insight (webinars are free, but you must register):

These webinars aim to help you:

1. Develop an understanding of the legislative process both:

a. Procedurally – How did the language read as first proposed, what committees considered the proposal, when were amendments made and where was the proposal when it was amended;
b. As an adversarial process – who was lobbying in support of the proposal and what were they trying to accomplish, who was active in opposition what were their objections, who was responsible for amendments to the proposal;2. Become familiar with the documents available pertinent to your issue;3. Identify where in the process the changes you care about occurred – this provides a mechanism to narrow the scope of your search for explanations for why the language was changed;4. Learn how to identify both direct and circumstantial evidence of intent.