Easier Access to West Academic Study Aids

It’s that time of the semester– mid-terms are here, exams are around the corner. You might be looking for a little extra help with a couple of your classes. Don’t forget the West Academic study aid e-books. With titles like Civil Procedure in a Nutshell and Acing Constitutional Law, the West Academic study aids can be valuable tools to help you prepare for class and exams. And access to the entire West Academic study aids library is easier than ever– you can now go directly to the streamlined e-book platform or click on the link on the law library’s Databases page (either way, if you are off campus, you will be prompted to enter your UM NetID). Once you are on the platform, you can login and will have access to features like highlighting and notetaking. Unlike the print copies owned by the library, there is no limit to the number of students who can use the e-books simultaneously.

Here are some of the most popular series and titles available through the West Academic Study Aids platform.

Selected Series

Acing Series

The Acing Series are exam prep books designed to teach students how to analyze exam problems using a unique checklist approach. They contain numerous problems, with answers. Titles include Acing Civil Procedure, Acing Constitutional Law, and Acing Federal Income Tax. Most 1L and 2L courses are covered in this series.

Concise Hornbooks

The Concise Hornbooks are expert-written treatises designed to analyze for students the core concepts and fundamental issues of a subject. They provide comprehensive coverage of the most important issues of a subject. A Concise Hornbook is a good companion to your textbook when you need a bit of additional explanation. The 39 titles in the series include Business Organizations, Principles of Administrative Law, and Principles of Environmental Law. The series covers most required 1L and 2L courses and many elective courses.

Exam Pro

The Exam Pro series are exam prep books that provide insight into how to answer both essay and multiple choice questions. Each book contains comprehensive sample exams with detailed explanations of the answers. Some Exam Pro topics are divided into two books, e.g., Exam Pro on Evidence: Essay Questions and Exam Pro on Evidence: Objective. Other subjects covered include Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Property, and Federal Income Tax.


The 158 titles in the Nutshell series cover every law school subject. Nutshells provide concise coverage of all the important issues of law with easy to understand explanations and references to key cases and statutes.

Short and Happy Guides

Short and Happy Guides are designed to make even complex legal subjects accessible through the use of clear explanations, metaphors, acronyms, and imagery. In addition to titles covering most 1L subjects, the Short and Happy series also includes A Short and Happy Guide to Being a Law Student, A Short and Happy Guide to Effective Client Interviewing, and A Short and Happy Guide to the MPRE.

Selected Academic Success & Career Success Titles

  • Guerilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams
  • Swimming Lessons for Baby Sharks: The Essential Guide to Thriving as a New Lawyer
  • How to Write Law Exams: IRAC Perfected
  • Mastering the Law School Exam
  • Law School Secrets: Outlining for Exam Success
  • 1L of a Ride: A Well-Traveled Professor’s Roadmap to Success in the First Year of Law School

Happy studying!

Posted in Resources | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Forget the Basics


Sometimes the best way to get your mind around a new topic is not by tackling the most complex treatise in the library but by scanning the least complex.  If you were new to copyright law, for example, you may not want to start off with Nimmer on Copyright, a venerable 11 volume, several thousand page looseleaf set under constant revision, when Copyright law in a nutshell is nearby.  Nutshells are generally 300 to 500 pages, assume no real prior expertise, and offer a broad view of a topic.  And that’s why people like them.

Nutshells represent a class of library materials known as study aids. The Jameson Law Library has recently purchased the West Publishing Study Aids package which is available electronically and includes several series such as Nutshells, Stories, Acing, Hornbooks, as well as materials on academic and career success. 1L and 2L/3L course subjects are also covered.

Here is an example of the materials available in the academic success section:


How to Write Law Exams: IRAC Perfected

Strong, S. I. / Desnoyer, Brad

1L of a Ride: A Well-Traveled Professor’s Roadmap to Success in the …

McClurg, Andrew J.

Acing the Bar Exam

Darrow-Kleinhaus, Suzanne

A Weekly Guide to Being a Model Law Student

Ruskell, Alex

Mastering the Law School Exam

Darrow-Kleinhaus, Suzanne

The Eight Secrets of Top Exam Performance in Law School

Whitebread, Charles H.

Law School Secrets: Outlining for Exam Success

Batoff, Jeffrey S.

A Short and Happy Guide to Being a Law Student

Franzese, Paula Ann

The Bar Exam in a Nutshell

Darrow-Kleinhaus, Suzanne

Law School Success in a Nutshell

Burkhart, Ann M. / Stein, Robert A

Get a Running Start: Your Comprehensive Guide to the First Year …

Gray, David C. / Gifford, Donald G. / Graber, Mark / Richman, William M. / Super, David A. / Van Alstine, Michael P.

Law School Without Fear: Strategies for Success

Shapo, Helene S. / Shapo, Marshall S.

The west study aids package is available to all UM Missoula students and faculty. You can access the package through the Law Library Databases list.

While the Law Library maintains paper copies of many of these titles, using the electronic versions offers two advantageous: they are always available (including the most current edition),  and you don’t have to return them on time.

Posted in Library News | Leave a comment

We the People: A Constitutional Day Miscellany

Constitution Day September 17th

September 17, 1787. 229 years ago tomorrow the drafters of the U.S. Constitution gathered to sign the document they created. Constitution Day was established by Congress in 2004 and since then, schools and universities in the U.S. have celebrated Constitution Day on September 17.


Each educational institution that receives Federal funds
for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United
States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students
served by the educational institution. (Pub. L. No. 108-447, § 111, 118 Stat. 2809, 3344 (2004)).

Trivia question: Pub. L. No. 108-447 also designated the National Tree.
What is the National Tree of the United States?


This year Constitution Day is being celebrated at the University of Montana on September 20 with a public lecture by Orin S. Kerr titled The Digital Fourth Amendment. The lecture will be held at 7:00 pm in Room 101 of the Law School.


Barry Faulkner's Constitutional Mural depicing signers of the U.S. Constitution

How many of the Signers can you name? (Answers)







The National Archives has some fun resources for observing Constitution Day, including an interesting of set of constitutional “trivia” questions. How many of these can you get right? (Answers)

  • How many lawyers were members of the Constitutional Convention?
  • Who was called the “Sage of the Constitutional Convention”?
  • Who was called the “Father of the Constitution”?
  • What did Thomas Jefferson have to do with framing the Constitution?
  • Who presided over the Constitutional Convention?
  • How long did it take to frame the Constitution?
  • Did George Washington sign the Declaration of Independence?
  • In ratifying the Constitution, did the people vote directly?
  • In what order did the States ratify the Constitution?
  • Is it possible to impeach a justice of the Supreme Court?
  • Who administers the oath of office to the Speaker of the House of Representatives?
  • Which is the longest term of office in the government, aside from judges?
  • How many methods of electing the President of the United States were considered by the Constitutional Convention?
  • What constitutes the Bill of Rights?
  • How many amendments to the Constitution have been repealed?

A couple other pages of interest from the National Archives:


The National Constitution Center’s Interactive Constitution allows users to explore the meanings of the Constitution through the discussions of expert Constitutional scholars representing a variety of viewpoints.


Posted in Did You Know? | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s on Class Reserve in the Law Library?

Currently there are two principles guiding class reserve materials for law school courses.   Note: I am not addressing Moodle materials or facpacs – just the materials kept behind the circulation desk in the Law Library.

  1.    Required texts for required classes.

This category is straight forward. These are the same required books you will find at the bookstore.

2.   Materials that are placed on reserve at the request of the course instructor.

This category is less straight forward because it often includes the required texts for non-required classes. This sometimes leads people to believe that all required texts are on reserve in the library – not true.

If you have further questions about law school class reserves at the Law Library, please don’t hesitate to ask a library staff member or email me at phil.cousineau@umontana.edu

Posted in Library News | Leave a comment

Great Summer Reads 2016

In 1879, the Bucks County Gazette (Bristol, Pennsylvania) published this advice about reading good novels (thank you to Bari Burke for unearthing this gem):

Dr. James Freeman Clarke commends highly the reading of good novels, and lays down a few rules for general use:

  1. Do not read many novels, but read the best ones often.
  2. Read slowly and reflect on what you read.
  3. The good novel is one which leaves your mind in a healthy state, fit for any work, and for daily duty.  It is a refreshment, not a dissipation.  It does not dissipate the strength, but recreates it.
  4. The good novel takes a cheerful view of life, and a kindly view of [wo]men.
  5.  A novel is immoral which assumes that men will go wrong, that society is corrupt, and that it is useless to try to resist evil.  A moral novel is one which makes us feel, that though temptations are around us and within us, we are able, if we will, to battle with and overcome them.

I echo Dr. Clarke’s recommendation of reading good novels and would add my recommendation to read interesting nonfiction as well. I don’t agree with his first “rule” though. Instead, I would amend Rule #1 to read: Read as many good books as you can. And I would add the reminder that summer is a great time to do that. To facilitate that, we are again presenting our annual Great Summer Reads blog.

The books on this list are gathered from faculty, staff, and students. They are a mixture of fiction, non-fiction, law books, non-law books, new books, and old books.


thumbnail of cover of Time Traveler's WifeThe Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

thumbnail of cover of swamplandiaSwamplandia! by Karen Russell

The Museum of Extraordinary Things thumbnail of book cover museum of extraordinary thingsby Alice Hoffman


thumbnail of cover of Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals AreAre We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal

thumbnail of cover of lost in shangri laLost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of WWII by Mitchell Zuckoff

thumbnail of cover of abolition democracyAbolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Prisons and Torture by Angela Davis

thumbnail of cover of Black Holes and Other Songs from Outer SpaceBlack Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space by Janna Levin

Montana Connections (a new category this year)

thumbnail of cover of The Flood GirlsThe Flood Girls by Richard Fifield

thumbnail of coer of last chain on billieLast Chain on Billie: How One Extraordinary Elephant Escaped the Big Top by Carol Bradley

And with that, this blog is also going on vacation for the summer. Leave a comment to let us know how you liked the books you selected from the list. Have a great summer– see you in August!


Posted in Great Summer Reads, Montana | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Google Abuse

Google Abuse

[goo-guhl]  [ uh-byoos]


  1. Wrong or improper use; misuse.



  1. Search behavior based on the erroneous belief that Google will find whatever is sought.


Although I’m coining the phrase here for the first time (as far as I know), Google abuse is very common. It happens all the time.  Google abuse happens when people attempt to use Google to answer questions or find things that are better answered or found using some other search engine, query, database, process, method, etc.  Google abuse is like using the wrong tool to get a job done: sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t work very well, and sometimes it totally botches the job. You would not use a hammer to drive in a screw or an eggbeater to cut your lawn, yet people persist in using Google to the exclusion of other resources, often with poor results. Ask any librarian.

Google is a wonderful tool for a vast number of questions. I use it for personal and professional information gathering all the time. I find it very helpful to verify things and to put thing in context. For example, I was recently asked about the prayer for relief aspect of a civil complaint in Montana.  Since I wasn’t sure what the term prayer for relief   meant, I went to Google and gave it a try. I quickly learned that it is the aspect of a complaint where the expectations of relief or remedy in a civil case are spelled out. Pushing my luck (and committing Google Abuse), I mixed the word “Montana” into my google search.  Of course it was a “Google Dead End” (another Google phenomenon where although you have thousands of hits, none of them are appropriate).

In order to integrate my useful Google results about prayer for relief into Montana’s legal structure,  I had to go to another source, namely the Montana Code Annotated and specifically the rules of civil procedure  to learn that the relief aspects of a complaint are addressed in section  8, rule 54. Finding cases where rule 54 was applied to the patron’s specific situation was simply a matter of moving to the MCA annotations.

In this case I used Google to verify a term and provide a context for that term.  It worked  but asking Google to then provide information about how the term fits together with Montana law failed completely.

Here are a couple of indicators that you either are, or are about to, commit Google Abuse.

  1. Your question is complex and very specific yet you hope Google answers it. My reference question above illustrates this. Another example: A professor wanted to know if his published paper appeared in a certain online resource. A google search did not indicate that it was so he concluded that it was not. In fact it was included in the online resource but Google could not make that determination.


  1. The first couple of pages of Google results don’t answer your question. Usually the most useful results of a Google search are on the first page, sometimes the second. There is rarely anything useful beyond the second page. If you find yourself looking at the 4th page of a google search, vary your search terms or consider a more appropriate resource.
Posted in Library News | Leave a comment

The End of the Internet…

Yep, pretty big news. Was it Trump? Kanye West? Apple? The FBI? No, none of them did it.  It was bound to happen from the beginning. Everything has an end, even the internet (well, except for one thing).  See for yourself.


Now that the internet has ended I guess we’re ready for the next big thing. And what is the next big thing? Spring break, of course!

So put down your laptop and pick up a book. The old fashioned kind, one made out of paper and cardboard, preferably fiction. Pop a top. Relax. Have a great spring break.

Posted in Library News | Leave a comment