Support Materials: This is Where the Rubber Meets the Road

    Take a look at Law School Myth #5 (p. 16) for a moment.  The concept I've outlined there is a wide departure from what you're accustomed to as an undergrad conditioned to believe that everything you need is in the assigned book.  Even in law school, what you need to glean from the subject area is in the book, but the difference in law school is two fold: 1) the information in the book is not in any sort of synthesized, useful format, and 2) many legal concepts are very difficult to understand initially.  The way the assigned book describes the concept may not make sense to you.  So you'll need another source, or sources, that will explain the concept in different terms, or more fully, to facilitate your understanding.
    For those very reasons there exists a large market of commercial producers supplying support materials for law students and lawyers.  I estimate that over 90% of all law students regularly use some sort of commercial supplement.  These supplements include everything from nutshells and treatises, to audio content and gouges to commercial briefs and flashcards.  Gouges, or commercial outlines as they're more formally known, represent the single most used support material for law students.  Make no mistake about it, these materials form the foundation for in-depth legal understanding.
    Professors will sometimes voice their disdain for some of these products, perhaps citing the products inaccuracy on the law.  While commercial materials do occasionally contain errors, they are widely known and used.  Indeed, if you go to that very professor's office, you will likely see a commercial outline in her bookcase!
    During your first year of law school many law students themselves will allude to certain support materials as though they were cheat devises.  I nearly guarantee you will see that student using a commercial support product eventually. 
    You will need to have a basic understanding of these products in order to fully appreciate the next chapter on case briefing.
    In the next section I will describe the various products to you, advise you on what products to focus on, and let you know where to be vigilant in watching for errors or points of law that could mislead you.