The First Year: Getting Started & Succeeding
How to Succeed in Law School

A Women's Guide to Law School
by Linda Hirshman  /  KF283.H57 1999 (5th stacks)
Acing Your First Year of Law School: The Ten Steps to Success You Won't Learn in Class
by Shana Noyes and Henry Noyes  /  KF283.N69 2008 (5th stacks)
Cracking the Case Method: Legal Analysis For Law School Success
by Paul Bergman, Patrick Goodman, and Thomas Holm  /  KF283.B37 2012 (5th stacks)
The Complete Law School Companion: How to Excel at America's Most Demanding Post-Graduate Curriculum
by Jeff Deaver  /  KF283.D4 1992 (5th stacks & Course Reserve)
Demystifying the First Year of Law School : A Guide to the 1L Experience 
by  Albert J. Moore and David A. Binder  /  KF283 .M66 2010 (5th stacks)
Expert Learning for Law Students
by Michael Hunter Schwart  /  KF283.S35 2008 (5th stacks)
Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams
by Richard Fischl  /  KF283.F47 1999 (5th stacks)
Hard-Nosed Advice from a Cranky Law Professor: How to Succeed in Law School
by Austen L. Parrish and Cristina C. Knolton  /  KF283.P37 2010 (5th stacks)
How to Learn Massive Amounts of Information: Study Secrets of Law School Students
by J. Mitchell  /  KF283.M58 2001 (5th stacks)
How to Succeed in Law School
by Gary A. Munneke  /  KF283.M86 2008
Introduction to the Study and Practice of Law School in a Nutshell
by Kenney F. Hegland  /  KF273.H4 2003 (5th stacks) 
Law School101: How to Succeed in Your First Year of Law School and Beyond
by R. Stephanie Good  /  KF283.G66 2009 (5th stacks)
Law School Confidential: The Complete Law School Survival Guide: By Students, for Students
by Robert Miller  /  KF283.M55 2000 (5th stacks)
Law School: Getting In, Getting Out; Getting On
by Michael Ariens  /  KF283.A75 2010 (5th stacks)
Law School Labyrinth: A Guide to Making the Most of Your Legal Education
by Steven R. Sedberry  /  KF283.S43 2009 (5th stacks)
Law School Revealed: Secrets, Opportunities, and Success!
by Ursula Furi-Perry  /  KF283.F87 2009 (5th stacks)
The Law School Rules: 115 Survival Strategies to Make the Challenges of Law School Seem Like "Small Stuff"
by Marion T.D. Lewis  /  KF283.L49 1999 (5th stacks) 
Law School Success in a Nutshell
by Ann M. Burkhart and Robert A. Stein  /  KF283.B87 2008 (Circulation Desk)
Law School Survival Guide
KF283.L375 2003 (5th stacks)
Law School Without Fear: Strategies for Success
by Helene Shapo  /  KF386.S44 2002 (5th stacks)
Learning Outside the Box: A Handbook for Law Students Who Learn Differently
by Leah M. Christensen  /  KF283.C48 2011 (5th stacks)
Looking at Law School : A Student Guide From the Society of American Law Teachers
KF283 .L66 1997 (5th stacks)  
Open Book: Succeeding on Exam from the 1st Day of Law School
by Barry Friedman and John C.P. Goldberg  /  KF283.F75 2011 (5th stacks)
Practical Case Analysis
by Linda L. Edwards  /  KF280.E38 1996 (5th stacks)
Reading like a Lawyer: Time-Saving Strategies for Reading Law Like an Expert
by Ruth Ann McKinney  /  KF283.M398 2005 (5th stacks)
Slaying the Law School Dragon: How to Survive--and Thrive--in First-Year Law School
by George Roth  /  KF283.R68 1991 (5th stacks)  
Starting Off Right in Law School
by Carolyn J. Nygren  /  KF273.N97 2011 (5th stacks)
Succeeding in Law School
by Herbert N. Ramy  /  KF283.R36 2010 (5th stacks)
What Every Law Student Really Needs to Know
by Tracey E. George and Suzanna Sherry  /  KF283.G46 2009 (5th stacks)
The Zen of Law School Success
by Chad Nore  /  KF283.N67 2011 (5th stacks)


In your classes you'll be reading from casebooks. Casebooks typically include leading cases in a particular area of law. Sometimes they include the entire case; sometimes they just include an excerpt from the case. They do not usually include analysis of the case, so you are left to figure out what the case stands for through your class discussions or from other resources such as study guides or hornbooks. The library does not purchase casebooks, but does have a small collection of casebooks which have been donated to the library. You can get the current casebooks for your classes from the bookstore.

Study Guides & Hornbooks

A hornbook is a one-volume statement of the law on a particular subject. Hornbooks can be a great place to find a clear explanation of a point of law. The library has hornbooks on most subjects at the Circulation Desk on the 4th Floor. West Publishing company publishes the popular (albeit somewhat dated) "Hornbook Series" covering the basic areas of law. Today any one volume legal treatise is commonly referred to as a hornbook. [NOTE: Most professors have preferences for specific hornbooks. Check with your professor for recommended authors.]

Study Guides:
Study Guides are student-friendly one-volume books that cover the basics of each of your first-year courses. Study guides are written to supplement your casebooks, and are intended to help you understand the basic concepts from each case. Some students love them, while others never use them. They are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at the bookstore. In addition, some of the most popular study guides can be borrowed from the library. The library has compiled a list of study guides & hornbooks available in the library organized by subject.

Audio Tapes:
The Hastings Law Library has a collection of audio lectures on CD by distinguished professors from the "Law School Legends" series produced by Gilbert Law Summaries. They are available from the Circulation Desk. Students can check out the following CDs from the Library to listen or copy:

Previous Exams:
Many students use the available previous exams from their professors to help them prepare outlines and study for the final exam.  This allows you to see how your professor writes exams, helps improve your writing skills, helps improve issue spotting, and helps improve your outline.  Each semester, the Records Office deposits released Hastings Law exams with the Library - these exams are then hosted on our website.  Faculty may also submit supplementary material to the Library (i.e., sample answers, model answers, explanatory memos, exams from classes that professors taught at other law schools), to be included with the exam questions.  These exams are available to Hastings students on the Library's web site. Our exam collection covers the current ten years, and is available to students on campus, or off-campus with a current Hastings ID.

Additional Study Aids for Exams:
CALI - The Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) produces multiple-choice lessons in almost every subject area with answers and explanations. The lessons are available online or in CD format. Hastings students can obtain a free CALI CD at the Reference Desk and download the exercises to a laptop. Alternatively, students can obtain an authorization code from a reference librarian, which will allow online access to all of the CALI exercises.
Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams
by Richard Michael Fischl and Jeremy Paul  /  KF283 .F47 1999  (5th stacks)
Gilbert Law Summaries Law School Exam Writing Audio CD-
by Charles H. Whitebread [USC]. Issued with the handout entitled: Eight secrets of top exam performance.  /  KF273.L39 W674 2005  (Circulation Desk)
Law School Exams: A Guide to Better Grades
by Alex Schimel  /  KF283. S335 2012 (5th stacks)
Law School Exams: Preparing and Writing to Win
by Charles R. Calleros  /  KF283 .C35 2007 (5th stacks)
Law School Success in a Nutshell: A Guide to Studying Law and Taking Law School Exams
by Ann M. Burkhart and Robert A. Stein  /  KF283 .B87 2008 (Circulation Desk)
Mastering the Law School Exam : A Practical Blueprint for Preparing and Taking Law School Exams
by Suzanne Darrow-Kleinhaus  /  KF283 .D37 2007 (5th stacks)
First Year Legal Writing & Research (LW&R)
Legal Research Basics

In your first-year Legal, Writing & Research (LW&R) classes your instructors will go into great detail about how to do legal research.  They will cover all of the basics of legal research.  Learning these basic skills is important for completing your LW&R memorandums and briefs.  But more importantly, these skills are the basic building blocks for success in law school and for a successful career in law. 

Students are encouraged to consult with a reference librarian for advice in planning their library research, for learning what library services may be useful to them, locating periodical articles and books on particular subjects, helping to identify unfamiliar citations and references, and using the variety of research tools and computer services available in the library.  Students can also submit online reference questions.  Additionally, the reference staff publishes a number of research guides (California Law, Foreign Law, San Francisco Law & Codes, Work/Life Law) to assist students with legal and library research. The library has also created an online reference collection with links to commonly-used legal reference materials such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, and treatises.

To find the books that you need for your Legal, Writing and Research (LW&R) class go to the Photographic Field Guide to the Law Library. Adam Engelhart, a recent Hastings Alumnus, created a nice webpage with pictures of all of the "principal legal reference works for 1Ls in the Hastings library, along with short descriptions and Bluebook citation rules."  Also use the Library's LW&R finding aid which includes the locations for most of the books used by Hastings LW&R students.  And of course you can always ask for assistance at the Reference Desk.

We have posted library maps online for all three floors, plus a helpful finding aid showing nearly all of the books 1L's will need for their LW&R assignments.

A Photographic Field Guide to the Law Library
by Hastings Alum Adam Engelhart
A Concise Guide to Legal Research and Writing
by Deborah E. Bouchoux  /  KF240.B678 2011 (5th stacks)
Finding the Law
by Robert Berring and Elizabeth Edinge  /  KF240.H61 2005 (Course Reserve)
Foundations of Legal Research and Writing
by Carol M. Bast and Margie Hawkins  /  KF240.B28 2006 (5th stacks)
Fundamentals of Legal Research
by Roy Mersky and Donald Dunn  /  KF240.J34 2002 (Course Reserve)
Guide to Legal Research and Writing from the Transnational Perspective
by Francis A. Gabor  /  K85.G33 2008 (5th stacks)
Legal Research in a Nutshell
KF240.C55 2010 (Circulation Desk)

Additional Resources:
The Library's Study Guides webpage lists additional useful Legal Research and Writing tool.

Legal Citation: Bluebooking
The standard guide to legal citation form is The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. The Bluebook establishes rules both for proper abbreviations and usage of signals. The Bluebook is what you will use in LW&R and Moot Court. However, there are other legal citation forms such as the ALWD Citation Manual. It is used in numerous law schools and by a few journals as a more straightforward and easier-to-learn alternative to The Bluebook.

ALWD Citation Manual
KF245.A45 2010 (Circulation Desk)
The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation
KF245.U5 2010 (Circulation Desk)
Legal Writing Citations in a Nutshell
KF254.T47 2008 (Circulation Desk)
Prince's Dictionary of Legal Citations: A Reference Guide for Attorneys, Legal Secretaries, Paralegals, and Law Students
KF246.B45 2011 (Reference Desk)
The Sources of Law
Both federal and state governments have lawmaking powers which is divided up among the three branches - executive, legislative, and judicial.
  • The Executive Branch creates administrative law, which is published as regulations.  
  • The Legislative Branch creates laws that are passed and published as statutes. 
  • The Judicial Branch creates law in the form of decisions that are published in case reporters. Judges create and shape the common law. In a common law system, the law is expressed in an evolving body of doctrine determined by judges in specific cases, rather than in a group of prescribed abstract principles. The common law grows and changes over time. An important element of common law is stare decisis which courts are bound to follow earlier decisions. 
Sources of Law: Cases, Statutes, and Regulations (iTunes podcast)
Jurisdiction & Controlling vs. Persuasive Authority (iTunes podcast)
Primary Sources: Cases, Statutes

Primary sources include court decisions, legislation, and regulations that form the basis of the legal doctrine. These are the official pronouncements of the government lawmakers. Cases and Statutes are the nuts and bolts of legal research; they will be discussed in great detail in your Legal, Writing & Research (LW&R) classes. Federal case law and statutes, California case law and statutes, and most of the research tools needed for LW&R are available on the library's 4th Floor. See the library map for details.

Case Citation:
A basic case citation will look like this:  Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 481, 85 S. Ct. 1678, 14 L. Ed. 2d 510 (1965).  This is a U.S. Supreme Court case.  The first part listed (Griswold v. Connecticut) are the parties. 381 is reporter volume number. U.S. is the abbreviation of the reporter the case is published in. In this case it is the United States Reports. 479 is the first page of the case. 481 is the specific page referred to or the pincite. 1965 is the date of the decision.
Oftentimes many reporters or publications will publish the case.  When this happens, the citation will list several parrallel citations.  This case was published in the United States Reports (U.S.), the Supreme Court Reporter (S. Ct.), and U.S. Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' Edition Second Series(L. Ed. 2d).   

Federal Reporters:

Reporter Abbreviations
Name of Reporter
Courts(s) Covered
F., F.2d, F.3d
Federal Reporter (First, Second, Third)
United States Courts of Appeals
F. Supp., F. Supp. 2d
Federal Supplement (First, Second)
United States District Courts
Federal Rules Decisions
United States District Courts
L. Ed., L. Ed. 2d
U.S. Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers’ Edition (First, Second)
United States Supreme Court
S. Ct.
Supreme Court Reporter
United States Supreme Court
United States Reports
United States Supreme Court

California Reporters:
Reporter Abbreviations
Name of Reporter
Court(s) Covered
Cal., Cal. 2d, Cal. 3d, Cal. 4th
California Reports (First, Second, Third, Fourth)
California Supreme Court
Cal. App., Cal. App. 2d, Cal. App. 3d, Cal App. 4th
California Appellate Reports (First, Second, Third, Fourth)
California Courts of Appeal
Cal. Rptr., Cal. Rptr. 2d
California Reporter (First, Second)
California Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal

Regional Reporters:
Reporter Abbreviations
Name of Reporter
Court(s) Covered
A., A.2d
Atlantic Reporter (First, Second)
N.E., N.E.2d
North Eastern Reporter (First, Second)
N.W., N.W.2d
North Western Reporter (First Second)
P., P.2d, P.3d
Pacific Reporter (First, Second, Third)
S.E., S.E.2d
South Eastern Reporter (First, Second)
So., So. 2d
Southern Reporter (First Second)
S.W., S.W.2d, S.W.3d
South Western Reporter (First, Second, Third)

Name of Source
Pub. L or P.L.
Public Law
Statutes at Large
United States Code (Official Version)
United States Code Annotated (Published by West)
United States Code Service (Published by LexisNexis)
Code of Federal Regulations
Cal. Code Regs. Or C.C.R.
California Code of Regulations

Additional Tools:

Secondary Sources: Digests, Encyclopedias

Secondary sources are not themselves the law but discuss or analyze legal doctrine. Examples of secondary sources are treatises, hornbooks, restatements, and the academic journals (law reviews).  Even though secondary sources are not the law, they provide for important functions in legal research. Scholarly commentaries can propose changes in the law, clarify the sometimes bewildering array of statutes and court decisions, and provide current awareness about developing legal doctrines. Secondary sources can be found on Westlaw or LexisNexis.

Digests are another useful secondary source.  Legal digests such as West's California Digest 2d are a great way to find cases on a particular subject or to find cases that are similar to your case.  West's California Digest uses the West key number system as a tool to find useful case law both in print and online on Westlaw. How to Find A Case Using A Digest!

Most of the research tools needed for LW&R are available on the library's 4th Floor. See the library map for details.

Secondary Sources:

Name of Secondary Source
A.L.R., A.L.R. 2d, A.L.R. 3d, A.L.R. 4th, A.L.R. 5th, A.L.R. 6th
American Law Reports (First through Sixth)
A.L.R. Fed.
American Law Reports (Federal)
Am. Jur. 2d
American Jurisprudence (Second)
Corpus Juris Secudum
Cal. Jur. 3rd
California Jurisprudence
L. Rev. (e.g., Hastings L. J.)
Law Review (e.g. Hastings Law Journal)


Using the West Key Number System on Westlaw (video cast)   
"More Like This Headnote" on Lexis (video cast)
A Conversation with Prof. James Wagstaffe about Civil Procedure Research and Scondary Sources (iTunes podcast)

Secondary Sources: Case Citators
The legal standing or authority of a case can change over time. A decision may be reversed on appeal or overturned years later by a decision of the same court. Other courts may criticize the reasoning of a decision or limit its holding to a specific set of facts. In any event, you need to know if the case you are citing as precedent is good law.

Case citation is nearly all done online using Lexis and Westlaw. The Hastings Library no longer subscribes to the print Shepard's case citator volumes.

Two Sources To Check If Case is Still Good Law:
(1) KeyCite- Westlaw
KeyCite is West’s citation research service.  It helps you determine whether a case, statute, administrative decision, or regulation is good law.  You can also use KeyCite to retrieve citing references to the document, including cases, administrative materials, secondary sources, and briefs and other court documents.
(2) Shepardize- LexisNexis
The largest publisher of legal citators in the United States is Shepard's.  Shepard's allows you to update case law, statutes, and other sources of law. Shepard's Citations publishes nearly 200 different citators and is available in print form (not commonly held by libraries anymore) and online through LexisNexis.


Keycite (video cast)
Shepards (video cast)
WestlawNext- How to Keycite
LexisAdvance- How to Shepardize (video cast)
Online Legal Research Overview
First-Year Hastings students will get individual passwords to all three of the main online legal research services through their LW&R classes. 

Three of the main online research resources are Westlaw, LexisNexis & Bloomberg Law. These resources allow for more powerful and focused searches compared to Google. Which source you use all depends on your personal preference and in part on the features and resources offered. However, you want to be familiar with all of them because you do not know what your employer will use. If you have any questions about how to use the resources contact the Hastings representatives. (Westlaw- Mark Cygnet (see Mark’s Westlaw webpage), LexisNexis - Alicia Luchetti, Bloomberg -Tracey Broadhead Frith (Call 1-888-560-BLAW(2529) or online.) If you have any additional questions simply ask for help at the Hastings reference desk.  

- Westlaw came out with a new platform called WestlawNext (Take a Quick Tour).
  • It is a primary online legal research service for students, lawyers, and legal professionals that provides proprietary database services. These databases include case law, state and federal statutes, administrative codes, newspapers, magazine articles, public records, law journals, law reviews, treatises, and legal forms. The information obtained from the databases is reliable but you have to make sure to KeyCite.
  • Difference Between WestlawNext and other legal research resources
  • WestlawNext is powered by WestSearch, the world’s most advanced legal search engine that incorporates 125 years of proprietary analysis of the law.

LexisNexis  - LexisNexis came out with a new platform called LexisAdvance.
  • Through the integration of information and technology, LexisNexis uniquely unites proprietary brands, advanced Web technologies and premium information sources. Across the globe, LexisNexis provides customers with access to billions of searchable documents and records from more than 45,000 legal, news and business sources.
  • What does LexisNexis do?
  • About LexisAdvance
Bloomberg Law  - Newest Database
  • With Bloomberg, you no longer have to search for a case in one place, look for analysis and commentart in another, then hunt down the day's business news - and hope you have founds everything. With Bloomberg Law, it is all presented in one place and seamlessly delivered- with every user having the same unrestricted, unlimited access to all the content in the database.
  • In addition, Bloomberg has the largest set of Dockets.
  • About Bloomberg Law
  • Bloomberg Law: Quick Reference Guide
Subject Specialist
Picture: Vincent Moyer

Vincent Moyer
Foreign, Comparative and International Law Librarian
Tel: 565-4752

Encore Catalog Search

The Hastings Encore Catalog is our search engine to find books and journals in the Hastings Law Library; articles and journals on HeinOnline, ProQuest Central, Oxford Journals Online and PubMed Central; as well as materials found in libraries around the world via Worldcat.