Friday, January 19, 2018

Guide to Free Law School Outlines, Supplements, and Study Aids [Updated]

small_4421990486Finals are approaching again and I thought it would be appropriate to post an update to my previous guide to free law school outlines and study aids. I received a lot of feedback and suggestions after the previous post and this new list incorporates many of the new sources that were suggested.

There is certainly no shortage of study aids and supplements for law school courses on the market, but finding high quality free study aids can be difficult. The following resources can provide valuable reinforcement of the concepts and material covered in your law school courses, particularly the required 1L curriculum. The resources are listed in alphabetical order.

Persuasive Authority is not affiliated with any of the organizations or products discussed below.


4LAWSCHOOL has a large collection of case briefs and outlines available for free.  The case briefs can be particularly helpful in the cold call heavy first year courses.

Black Letter Law Outlines from West

These are commercial outlines from the Black Letter Law series made available for free by Westlaw. The six major 1L courses are free and they are definitely worth a look.

The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (“CALI”) provides free lessons, e-books, and podcasts on a huge variety of legal topics.  Some of the lessons are as good as, if not better than any commercially available study aid.  Membership is required, but the account is free to students at most U.S. law schools. See here for more information or check with your law library to obtain a password.

iTunes U

iTunes U now has an impressive number of class lectures, symposia, and career advice podcasts from law schools around the nation. You must install iTunes to access the content.

Law Library

This one should really be no surprise to anyone.  Your law school’s library likely has an extensive collection of commercial outlines, study aids, and treatises on reserve.  You may also want to search the catalog for audio lectures from the Sum & Substance or Law School Legends series.  Even if you can’t check these materials out for extended periods of time you will be able to look up points of law that are unclear or at least be able to preview the supplements before purchasing your own copy.

LexisNexis Area of Law Outlines

Most law students at accredited U.S. law schools probable have access to LexisNexis.  These outlines are good, mostly to the point, and provide citations to the relevant cases, statutes, rules, or restatements.  They are available for constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, criminal procedure, evidence, property, torts, and trusts and estates.  The outlines are also available in Word format, which allows you to make changes and customize as desired.

Life of a Law Student

Life of a Law Student is a great collection of free podcasts created by law students in order “[t]o make as much legal knowledge and information freely available, to as many people, in as many ways, as is possible!” They cover the basic first year classes and a few others as well.  The format of the podcasts ranges from almost stream-of-consciousness recaps of classes to more organized lecture style reviews.   You can listen to the podcasts on their website or subscribe to them through iTunes.  [Edit 4/30/16: it appears that is no longer available.  The content may still be available on iTunes.]

This site operates an upload credit-based outline bank system and boasts “thousands of law school outlines, advice from tutors, and thousands of happy registered users.” A free account is required to access the outline bank. also allows users to redeem earned credits for cash.

Outline Depot operates a free outline exchange system.  You upload your outline and receive one credit that you can use to download another outline in their database.  Credits are also available for purchase at a price of $12.99.  Free registration is required. Although a little legwork is required up front (formatting and uploading your previous outlines), it can pay off—particularly for classes for which keyed commercial outlines are unavailable.  The selection of outlines is good and getting better.  The turnaround time for granting credits for uploaded outlines can be up to three weeks in my experience so plan ahead if you want the outlines in time for finals.

R/Lawschool’s Outline Bank

The R/LawSchool subreddit has a fairly extensive outline bank that is free to fellow Redditors. You must request access to the outline bank by sending a request to the moderators. Reddit is a great way to keep up with developments in the larger legal world as well.

Themis Bar Review Law School Essentials

While Themis is decidedly not a non-profit corporation like CALI above, they do offer free video lectures and outlines to law students.  The outlines are available online and are actually very good.  Their video lectures are also very good but are somewhat lacking in aesthetic appeal.  The videos are broken up into roughly fifteen minute blocks followed by several multiple-choice questions.  You must create a free account with Themis to access the materials.


Wikipedia is a surprisingly good resource for law school. Most of the landmark cases featured in casebooks have Wikipedia entries, as do many legal doctrines. See, e.g., Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co.; Rule Against Perpetuities.

photo credit: ~Brenda-Starr~ via photopin cc

Disclaimer: The statements and views expressed in this posting are my own and do not reflect those of my law firm. They are intended for general informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion.


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