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.


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

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.

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.

Passing the Bar

pass the bar2

The law library owns a board game called Passing the Bar: A Game of Legal Reasoning. The game is based on current multistate legal reasoning and is meant to be an interesting supplement to other study materials. The idea is that you can prepare for the bar exam and have a little fun at the same time.

Like other popular board games this one has a set of dice, a timer, a piece that is moved around the board and, of course, a bunch of cards with questions that must be answered correctly. Most of the cards contain a multiple choice question from one of seven legal topics that are also required law school courses: torts, contracts, constitutional law, criminal law, professional responsibility, property, and evidence. There is also a Justice deck of cards that includes legal trivia and game changing events like Lose a Turn, Go Back Two Spaces and Repeat a Topic.

The game reviews well and is often described as fun, thought provoking, entertaining, educational and so on. (

Passing the Bar is not for everyone however. One review said it was boring and another pointed out that it is not suited to those with no legal training or background ( ). It seems to work best if all of the players have been to law school.

If you are planning on the July bar exam, check this game out – you can have some fun, learn a few things, study for the exam, and take a break from studying for the exam all at the same time.

Passing the Bar board game is kept on the academic success shelf of the class reserves shelves at the circulation desk in the Jameson Law Library.

Animal Property Rights

It’s not every day that you see the seminal text for a new academic discipline but that is what we might have in John Hadley’s Animal Property Rights: A Theory of Habitat Rights for Wild Animals (Lexington Books, 2015).

When I first saw this book I thought it would be worth forwarding on to our animal rights professor. On closer inspection I decided that it wasn’t so much about animal rights in the traditional sense as it was about property rights. So I decided to forward it on to our property rights professor. Looking even closer I decided that this book is really about environmental habitats and natural resources issues and should be forwarded to the director of the Land Use and Natural Resources Clinic. Is this a cross disciplinary book or is it staking out a new sub-discipline in legal thought?

Hadley’s short book (there’s barely 100 pages of text) concisely presents the philosophical underpinnings of what he clearly sees as a future sub-discipline in legal thought – or at the least, a strong legal theory. From the introductory chapter to the last, Hadley methodically provides definitions, sets the background, introduces terminology, and outlines philosophical justifications for the academic study of animal property rights. He spends the last portion of the book answering actual and potential objections- a sort of clearing away of obstacles to the development of animal rights theory. I found this book fascinating and highly recommend it.

animal property rights

Call Number: HV4708 .F33 2015

What’s So Great About Primo? : A Primo Primer

Primo is the future. You may not know what it is today, but eventually you will gravitate towards Primo the same way we all gravitated towards Google. It will just be there being the best way to find what you’re looking for.

Primo is an example of a discovery layer which is software that both contains its own vast full-text and citation resources (the Central Index), and ingests other electronic resources like library catalogs, standalone databases, and internet based resources. All of these layers of information are then accessed (discovered) through a single search interface (Primo).

Sounds a little like Google doesn’t it? The big difference between Google and a discovery layer like Primo is that where Google scours the internet for free information, Primo scours layers of electronic information, some of which is free, but much of which is licensed by a library for use by a select group of users: the library patrons.   Licensing for use usually means that a library pays an annual fee which allows internet access to a specific database or electronic resource from a particular area like a building or a campus.

Today libraries subscribe to thousands of electronic resources. The more licensed resources that a library can access through Primo, the better because it allows a single search as opposed to preforming the same search over and over again in different databases. It takes the tedium out and provides better, quicker search results that can be sorted, divided, expanded, jumped from, added to, and manipulated in other ways. Preforming the same search on Google and again in Primo will yield quite different results because Google can only return free information and Primo returns free information and licensed information. Primo seeks to be to library collections what Google is to the internet.

Sounds great, right? Can’t wait to try it? Like any new software it takes a little getting used to. Visit the Mansfield Library home page to start learning how to navigate Primo.