Torts Evening - Fall 2007
Professor Ralph Brill
Course Information
Course Information



Many law professors, attorneys or judges have written text books on the subjects you will be studying. Some of these are specifically geared to law students, and these are commonly called Hornbooks. The authors of your casebooks generally will cite to some of these books in the notes after cases; your professor may recommend favorites for her/his course. These are much more detailed analyses of the law than the commercial outlines. They are quite useful when doing legal research (for the course in Legal Writing, for example), for they provide citations to cases, statutes, law review articles and other legal sources. They are much more rich discussions of the law than the commercial outlines, which tend to be more like flash cards. Hornbooks can be very helpful when you have finished a chapter or section and have attempted to synthesize the material yourself. They can help you flesh out some of the concepts, give an explanation of a concept in different words, give further examples. Once again, you shouldn't use these to substitute for outlining the material yourself, but as a supplement to your review process.

In addition to textbooks, the authors and/or your professors may refer you to various sections of the Restatement in the course in question. These are the products of the American Law Institute, an association of law professors, judges, lawyers, other scholars, who meet periodically to review an area of law and debate what the law is and what it should be. They publish bound volumes attempting to restate the law in black letter terms, with explanations and examples. The ALI Restatements have no force of law themselves, but are only the views of the membership; however, the prestige of the group has caused the Restatements in various areas to have a great impact on the growth of the law; many courts have adopted sections of the Restatements verbatim as the law of their jurisdictions. The Restatements are on reserve in the library, and are a good way to review a subject, since they offer lots of concrete examples of a rule being applied to a fact situation, with explanations of why the rule applies or does not apply. They can be a valuable study aide.

Virtually every law school in the country publishes one or more law reviews. They contain lead articles written by judges, lawyers, law professors, or other legal scholars, and most have additional articles written by law students. Many of the better articles are cited in the notes in your casebooks. These too are great sources for legal research. But they also are valuable when reviewing an area of law that you are having trouble mastering. They are much more complete and analytical than any commercial outline can be, and are filled with citations to and analyses of cases on the subject of the article.
A student who is having trouble understanding some aspect or portion of a course may find a clear law review article explaining and illustrating the concepts involved, and clarify the subject.

Often, law students form study groups, which meet periodically to review one or more courses. These can be a very beneficial method of reviewing. However, they are best for the students who are active teachers and not passive recipients of others' knowledge. Once again, if you can competently explain concepts to others you have mastered the material, and can communicate it to your professor on a final exam. If, however, you are merely listening, you have to try to adapt to another lecture by another "teacher." And by all means, if the Study Group chooses to do joint outlines, do not depend on the Group's outline to replace your own- once again, people learn differently. If the one who prepares the Group's outline uses a very formal method and you think in a less formal method, you may be lost in trying to use the Group outline. You need to do it yourself!!!