by Sarah Gotschall
Law school librarians wish our students well and want them to do well in their classes. Traditionally we have supported student achievement by stocking the reserve section of the library with a variety of study aids. Last year a librarian at my law school reported hearing that a lot of students were using Quimbee, an online law school study aid source, and suggested getting an institutional subscription. It didn’t happen for a variety of reasons, mainly the expense, and I forgot about it until the 2017 CALI conference this summer where I saw an impressive presentation about Quimbee’s educational videos.
What is Quimbee?
According to the Quimbee website, the company launched in 2007, has served over 102,000 law students, and is “hell-bent” on helping students get A’s in every course they take. Quimbee offers individual student and institutional subscriptions to their site which contains four types of materials to assist students with class and exam preparation: course materials, case briefs, outlines, and practice exams.
Quimbee has course materials consisting of multiple videos and practice questions for 31 subjects. It also provides over 12,700 case briefs for the principle cases in 171 casebooks. Additionally, it provides outlines in the 1L subjects of Criminal Law, Civil Procedure, Contracts, Constitutional Law, Evidence, Torts, and Real Property, as well as a few for 2L/3L subjects. The practice-exam library contains 216 practice exams that attempt to emulate real-world law school exam or Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) questions.
Quimbee sounds interesting, but one might wonder, what does Quimbee have to do with law school libraries? After all, even though law school libraries have traditionally provided a copy or two of popular study aids for student use, we have not traditionally provided each student with her own individual copy. And any student who wants to subscribe to Quimbee can easily sign up on the website for the bronze, silver, or gold plan for, respectively, $15, $22, or $24 a month. Well, it seems to me, Quimbee is basically just a database of information, and providing access to databases is what law libraries do. Also, many libraries have already dipped a toe into the business of providing online access to study aids through the purchase of subscriptions to West Academic Study Aids.
After the impressive Quimbee presentation at the CALI conference, I investigated the company’s website to determine if I should revive the discussion about a subscription at my law school. I looked to see other law schools that had subscribed and found a list of 19 schools. The list includes state law schools, such as University of Tennessee and University of Hawaii, and also top law schools such as Yale and Northwestern.
When I contacted a Quimbee representative to get a demo password to explore the site, I asked if the company had information about how many students from my law school were using the site. The representative said there is no definitive number since students don’t have to sign up with their university email addresses or identify their institutions. He could tell me that that 189 students with @arizona.edu addresses have signed up for Quimbee since its inception. Also, during that time, 86 students identified themselves as University of Arizona law students and 39 of those subscriptions are currently active. He noted that Quimbee password sharing is common so the actual number of students using Quimbee could be considerably higher. The representative also said that institutional subscribers could get detailed information on student use to consider when deciding whether to re-subscribe the following year.
In addition to providing students with a database of study aids, I wondered if Quimbee might be useful for legal research classes, either for student individual study or for use in a flipped classroom. With my demo password, I explored the Legal Research and Writing course. It was created by Michelle Dewey, Heather Simmons, and Sara Benson, law librarians from the University of Illinois College of Law. The course’s nine chapters consist of 35 videos, 185 multiple-choice questions, and 9 practical exercises. The chapters include Foundations of Legal Research and Writing; Understanding and Working with Cases; Understanding Legislation: Statutes and Codes; Understanding Regulations and Administrative Law; Understanding Secondary Sources; Systems and Tools for Legal Research; Searching, Filtering, and Evaluating; Legal Research: Planning and Process; and Legal Writing: The Basics.
I viewed several of the videos and worked through the quizzes. I must say that I was quite impressed by the quality. If my school had a subscription, I would further explore them and consider assigning some for use in my introductory legal research classes. I would also definitely add them to my list of resources for optional reading/viewing.
After I raised the issue again, our library still didn’t subscribe to Quimbee, mainly due to the expense. However, I still like Quimbee and might keep trying! In any event, it was very easy to obtain a demo password to explore the site, and I would encourage any librarians with interest to do so.