Suggested Reading for Pre-Law Students

  • This guide lists resources to help pre-law and law students succeed in class, in contemplating various career paths, and in exploring the world of law. All of these materials are available in the law library at Capital University Law School.

    Succeeding in Law School: 

    Burkhart, Ann M. & Robert A. Stein.  Law School Success: A Guide to Studying Law and Taking Law School Exams in a Nutshell (2d ed. 2008).  
    Reserve Room KF 283 .B87 2008 
    Burkhart and Stein have written a guide to the law school experience. The sample outline and sample case brief are especially useful. 

    Carey, Christen Civiletto & Kristen David Adams. The Practice of Law School: Getting In and Making the Most of Your Legal Education (2003). 
    KF 297 .C58 2003 
    The authors believe becoming a lawyer is a process that begins with the first year of law school. Readers will learn practical strategies for dealing with the nuts and bolts of law school along with information about opportunities for growth outside the traditional classroom. 

    Dernbach, John C.  Writing Essay Exams to Succeed (Not Just to Survive) (3rd edition, 2010
    Reserve Room KF 283 .D47 2010 
    The author has written a cogent and practical guide to the essay exam, complete with sample essay questions and answers with the author’s critique of the answers.  

    Fischl, Richard Michael & Jeremy Paul. Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams (1999).
    Reserve Room KF 283 .F57 1999
     
    Even if your college experience involved writing essay exams, this book should be on your “must read” list for its detailed “how to” strategies for presenting what you know in a winning format. 

    Hegland, Kenney F. Introduction to the Study and Practice of Law in a Nutshell (5th ed. 2008).
    Reserve Room KF 273 .H4 2008 
    This title in West’s Nutshell Series covers first year skills such as reading and briefing cases, preparing for class, outlining and taking exams. The book is divided into Legal Analysis, Study Skills, Exams, Legal Writing and Oral Advocacy.  Many chapters include useful discussions and exercises. 

    Llewellyn, Karl L. The Bramble Bush: On Our Law and Its Study (1960).  
    Reserve Room KF 273 .L55 1960 
    An excellent introduction to legal reasoning, the judicial system and the legal education process.  This book is based out of a lecture series for first year law students. Even though the lectures were delivered in 1929-1930 the information is still sound and worth reading.  

    McClurg, Andrew J. 1L of a Ride: A Well-Traveled Professor’s Roadmap to Success in the First Year of Law School (2009).
    KF 287 .M38 2009
     
    This book employs anecdotes and examples to successfully navigate the first year of school.  The author focuses on practical advice from both professors and law students covering the first day of law school to succeeding in the perilous second semester of first year. 

    Mertz, Elizabeth. The Language of Law School: Learning to “Think Like a Lawyer” (2007).
    KF 279 .M47 2007
     
    Read this study to discover why law students think differently after the first year.  The author shows the shift law students make as they are trained to look past the facts of a situation to its underlying legal concepts. 

    Moore, Albert J. & David A. Binder. Demystifying the First Year of Law School: A Guide to the 1L Experience (2010).
    KF 283 .M66 2010
     
    The authors provide a framework for reading and analyzing court opinions in first year courses. The authors illustrate the various types of arguments used to resolve legal issues, helping students make legal arguments on exams and later in law practice. 

    Munneke, Gary A. How to Succeed in Law School (4th ed. 2008).  
    Reserve Room KF 283 .M86 2008 
    This book touches on all aspects of the law school experience—note taking, brief writing, exams, and life beyond the first year. It includes especially good information on avoiding time management problems and financial pitfalls. 

    Ramy, Herbert N. Succeeding in Law School (2006).
    KF 283 .R36 2006
     
    This book may be used in advance to demystify the first days of law school, or may be used during the first year of law school to help students get the most out of their abilities. The nuts and bolts of briefing cases efficiently, taking class notes, creating outlines and study schedules are all discussed. Professor Ramy is honest when discussing the rigorous environment law students will face.  

    Scalia, Antonin & Bryan A. Garner. Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges (2008).
    KF 8870 .S23 2008  
     
    Making Your Case presents the essentials of speaking and writing persuasively. The authors cover the principles of legal reasoning, brief writing and oral argument in a conversational style. Sections on handling questions and the manner of argument are particularly relevant to the first year moot court experience.  

    Schwartz, Michael Hunter. Expert Learning for Law Students (2005).  
    KF 283 .S39 2005 
    Analytical and learning skills honed in law school may be used to advantage on the bar exam and in practice. Discover your learning style and learn the most efficient ways to read court opinions, memorize rules, and prepare for exams. 

    Shapo, Helene & Marshall Shapo. Law School without Fear: Strategies for Success (3d ed. 2009).
    Reserve Room KF 386 .S44 2009
     
    Two law professors wrote this book when their son decided to attend law school.  The authors understand law school is not only an intellectual experience but an emotional experience, and offer practical advice to succeed and thrive in law school. 

    Stropus, Ruta K. & Charlotte D. Taylor. Bridging the Gap between College and Law School: Strategies for Success (2d ed. 2009).
    KF 283 .S77 2009
     
    Mastering the process of learning in the law school environment is key to success. This book covers the “why” of the law school culture while giving the reader practical tips on case briefing, time management, and exam writing. 

    The Legal Profession 

    Abrams, Lisa L. The Official Guide to Legal Specialties: An Insider’s Guide to Every Major Practice Area (2000).
    Reserve Room KF 297 .A76 2000
     
    An inside look at thirty legal specialties, each chapter reveals the rhythm of the practice area while detailing the personal and professional skills needed for success in each specialty. 

    Arron, Deborah. What Can You Do with a Law Degree? (5th ed. 2004).  
    Reserve Room KF 297 .A875 2004 
    This book has been called the legal version of What Color Is Your Parachute? Consult the Seven Lawyer Profiles and the Ideal Job Grid when contemplating the different career options inside and outside the field of law.  

    Carey, Christen Civiletto. Full Disclosure: The New Lawyer’s Must-Read Career Guide (2d ed. 2001).
     KF 297 .C37 2001
     
    Full of concrete insights and suggestions on developing a legal career, the author takes the reader from using career services through the interview and beyond. Read this to consult with a savvy mentor and to avoid developing habits that will derail your budding career. 

    Dear Sisters, Dear Daughters: Strategies for Success from Multicultural Women Attorneys (C. Elisia Frazier & Ernestine Forrest eds., 2009).
    KF 299 .M56 D43 2009
     
    Multicultural women attorneys often leave the legal profession due to issues of racial and gender bias. Dear Sisters, Dear Daughters has collected truly inspiring letters from experienced multicultural women lawyers offering advice and road maps for success as an attorney.  

    Downey, Michael. Introduction to Law Firm Practice (2010).
    KF 300 .D69 2010
     
    Law firm practice can be daunting. The ABA Law Practice Management Section has written an easy to read guide to navigating the ins and outs of a law firm practice. The guide explains promotional tracks for firms, developing business, firm culture, and dealing with mistakes.  

    Dunnewold, Mary L., Beth A. Honetschlager & Brenda L. Tofte. Judicial Clerkships: A Practical Guide (2010). 
    KF 8807 .D86 2010
     
    Judicial Clerkships is a practical guide for students contemplating judicial externships and clerkships. Chapters on applying for clerkships and detailing the various kinds of clerking positions help focus the search. The book discusses how to write various judicial documents such as bench memoranda, jury instructions and opinion drafts; these chapters include document review checklists and sample documents. 

    Farnsworth, Ward. The Legal Analyst: A Toolkit for Thinking about the Law (2007).
    K 212 .F37 2007
     
    Farnsworth stocks this legal “toolkit” with principles for thinking about legal problems across the range of legal disciplines. Principles range from ideas in game theory such as the Prisoners Dilemma to the classic legal “slippery slope.” Each chapter introduces a single principle and shows how it can be used to solve different problems.  

    Furi-Perry, Ursula. Fifty Unique Legal Paths: How to Find the Right Job (2008).
    KF 297 .F87 2008
     
    Furi-Perry is convinced one of the best kept secrets of the law degree is its career versatility. This thorough but easy to use handbook focuses on the wide variety of job options for law graduates with advice from those attorneys who have carved out fulfilling careers. Ten growing practice areas for attorneys are detailed as well as some positions outside the legal field. Boxes highlighting tips for breaking in to a field and subspecialties within the field are particularly useful. 

    Hermann, Richard L. Landing a Federal Legal Job: Finding Success in the U.S. Government Job Market (2011).
    KF 299 .G6 H473 2011
     
    The U.S. government is the largest legal system in the world. Due to imminent retirements the government anticipates a sudden surge in demand for new hires. Landing a Federal Legal Job covers both the obvious agencies for lawyers such as the Justice Department and “hidden” law-related positions. The author also discusses the federal hiring process. 

    Hermann, Richard L. Managing Your Legal Career: Best Practices for Creating the Career You Want (2010).
    KF 297 .H45 2010 
     
    Managing Your Legal Career provides reliable up to date information on all facets of hunting for a job, interviewing and negotiating terms of employment. Use the checklists and charts in the appendices to map out networking contacts, references and employment opportunities. Readers will find sections on identifying hidden skill sets and the hidden pitfalls of online networking useful.  

    Lawyers, Lead On: Lawyers with Disabilities Share Their Insights (Carrie G. Basas, Rebecca S. Williford & Stephanie L. Enyart eds., 2011).
    KF 480 .L39 2011
     
    Letters of encouragement and advice from lawyers with disabilities share their perspectives on work and disability based on their own experiences of success and setbacks. Visible and invisible disabilities are represented. Advice dealing with law school and with career choices is useful for all law students. 

    A Life in the Law: Advice for Young Lawyers (William S. Duffey, Jr. & Richard A. Schneider eds., 2009).
    KF 372 .L543 2009
     
    Fifteen lawyers with diverse careers share their perspectives on becoming  lawyers, the values of the profession, and their duties to their communities and clients. This collection of conversational essays also addresses balancing work and family life.  

    Munneke, Gary A. & Ellen Wayne. The Legal Career Guide: From Law Student to Lawyer (5th ed. 2008).
    KF 297 .M78 2008
     
    The Legal Career Guide is a hands-on manual for students seeking both career satisfaction and a balanced life in the legal field. It is one of the few books to discuss the geographic aspects of law practice in rural areas, the suburbs and multijurisdictional areas. 

    Munneke, Gary A., William D. Henslee & Ellen Wayne. Nonlegal Careers for Lawyers (4th ed. 2003).
    KF 297 .U83 2003
     
    The study of law builds skills that are transferable to nonlegal careers. Learn about great career opportunities outside of the traditional practice of law. 

    Nerison, Rebecca. Lawyers, Anger and Anxiety: Dealing With the Stresses of the Legal Profession (2010).
    KF 300 .N46 2010
     
    The perfectionism and competitiveness of many law students coupled with a demanding program often results in anger, stress and anxiety. Lawyers, Anger and Anxiety examines how anxiety and anger are related detailing the symptoms and costs associated with them. The author gives concrete help for dealing with various real life stressful situations. Read this book for practical advice for developing healthy coping habits, leading a balanced life, and becoming a better lawyer. 

    Parker, Monica R.  What It Takes: How Women of Color Can Thrive Within the Practice of Law (2010).
    KF 299 .M56 P37 2010 
    What It Takes is a practical handbook offering advice on finding career satisfaction and success in the legal field. The author has interviewed dozens of successful black women lawyers and asked them detailed and personal questions about how they achieved success. 

    The Woman Advocate (Abbe F. Fletman and Evelyn R. Storch eds., 2d ed. 2010).
    KF 299 .W6 W64 2010 
     
    Leading women lawyers from various practice settings offer their views of the distinct challenges women face in the legal profession. Their advice is both practical and inspirational, from the elements of person style in the courtroom to the rigors of managing a law office. Discussions on bridging the generational divide, gaining influence in the workplace, and using social media are particularly useful. 

    The Legal System: 

    The Annotated U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence (Jack N. Rakove ed., 2009).
    KF 4527 .A56 2009
     
    This concise annotated edition of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence details the history of the each clause, discussing the most important legal interpretations of each clause and how the clause is viewed today.   

    Baum, Lawrence. The Supreme Court (9th ed. 2007).
    KF 8742 .B35 2007
     
    Sweeping change has come to the Court in the past few years, with the appointments of new justices and the shift from the Rehnquist Court to the Roberts Court. This introduction to the workings of the Supreme Court puts recent major decisions within the framework of the Court’s personalities and procedures.  

    Bonfield, Lloyd. American Law and the American Legal System in a Nutshell (2006). Reserve Room
    KF 386 .B59 2006
    Read this as a concise introduction to the American legal system. It covers both the structure of the system and areas of substantive law. 

    Cardozo, Benjamin. The Nature of the Judicial Process (1949).
    K 212 .C37 1949
    Justice Cardozo was noted for his excellent writing. This written version of his lecture series describes the process by which a judge decides a case and demonstrates how factors other than simple legal precedent often come into play in the judicial system.  

    Carter, Lief H. & Thomas F. Burke. Reason in Law (7th ed. 2007).
    KF 380 .C325 2007
     
    Using cases as current as Bush v. Schiavo and In Re September 11 Litigation, Carter and Burke demonstrate how judicial decisions often incorporate legal and political considerations when using the law to solve problems. 

    Farnsworth, Edward Allen. An Introduction to the Legal System of the United States (Steve Sheppard ed., 4th ed. 2010). 
    KF 387 .F3 2010
     
    A soup to nuts explanation of the American legal system, this work covers the system from a procedural standpoint. The author includes clear explanations of primary and secondary authority, along with the importance of public law, private law, and procedure. 

    Feinman, Jay M. Law 101 (3d ed. 2010).
    KF 387 .F45 2010
     
    The author uses the framework of subjects covered in the first year of law school to show how the law applies to everyday situations. Each chapter has a series of questions and answers regarding the type of law. Read the chapter “Your Day in Court” for a succinct explanation of the litigation process. 

    Friedman, Lawrence M. A History of American Law (3d ed. 2005).
    KF 352 .F7 2005
     
    The story of American law is closely tied to the economic and political life of the United States. Friedman tells its story from its colonial beginnings to the present day in this readable history. 

    Hall, Kermit L. & Peter Karsten. The Magic Mirror: Law in American History (2d ed. 2009).
    KF 352 .H35 2009
     
    Read The Magic Mirror to understand the roles that law has played in American history, from the days of the colonial settlements in North America to the twenty first century. The authors set American law and legal institutions within the framework of social, cultural, economic and political events. 

    Judges on Judging: Views from the Bench (David M. O’Brien ed., 3d ed. 2009).  
    KF 8775 .A75 J82 2009 
    Judges on Judging is a unique collection of writings by American judges, from federal to state and appellate to trial courts. Writers run the gamut from Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes to the current Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. Anyone interested in both basic information about how courts operate and contrasting views from the judges themselves about their “proper” role will learn a great deal from this book.  

    McCloskey, Robert G. The American Supreme Court (Sanford Levinson ed., 5th ed. 2010).
    KF 4575 .M3 2010
     
    The strength of the Supreme Court is its recognition of the nation’s changing political scene as well as its reluctance to veer far from the mainstream of public sentiment. The Court’s recent opinions on the War on Terror, campaign finance regulation and the right to bear arms are discussed. The chapter on the nomination and confirmation of Supreme Court justices brings the process through Justice Sotomayor. The list of important dates by year includes landmark decisions. 

    Rehnquist, William H. The Supreme Court (new ed. 2001).
    KF 8742 .R47 2001
     
     The late Chief Justice has written a very readable account of the highest court, placing important decisions of the court in their historical context along with information on how the current court goes about the business of deciding cases. Since Justice Rehnquist did not wish to discuss his colleagues the discussion of substantive doctrines ends with those developed by the Warren Court. 

    Toobin, Jeffrey. The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court (2007).
    KF 8748 .T66 2007  
     
    Jeffrey Toobin interviewed former clerks and Supreme Court justices to paint this picture of the last fifteen years of the Supreme Court. The struggle between conservative and moderate views has been a hallmark of the Court from the Reagan years until the appointments of Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts. Toobin unveils the drama behind landmark opinions such as Bush v. Gore.  

    Vidmar, Neil & Valerie P. Hans. American Juries: The Verdict (2007).
    KF 8972 .V53 2007
     
    The Bill of Rights guarantees the right to trial by jury; from the O.J. Simpson trial to the “hot coffee” verdict juries have been perceived as biased and irresponsible. Can juries understand expert testimony? How do juries actually make decisions? Fact-based answers are given to these questions while placing juries in historical context. The authors review over fifty years of research on civil and criminal juries to conclude our jury system is fair and democratic.  

    Famous Lawyers and Famous Cases: 

    Biskupic, Joan. American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (2009).
    KF 8745 .S33 B57 2009 
     
    Supreme Court justices are known for their opinions on legal issues and tend to keep their personal views private. In American Original Joan Biskupic presents a detailed portrait of Justice Scalia, a magnet for controversy in both his judicial and private lives. With unprecedented access to the justice, the author takes the reader from Scalia’s childhood in a first-generation Italian American home to his role on today’s Supreme Court. 

    Coffey, Kendall. Spinning the Law: Trying Cases in the Court of Public Opinion (2010).
    KF 390.5 .P8C64 2010 
    Many trials are as fiercely fought in the “court of public opinion” as before a judge and a jury. Kendall Coffey takes the reader through the recent cases of Elian Gonzales, O.J. Simpson, Martha Stewart and Florida’s role in the 2000 presidential election to demonstrate how working the media may be as important to the client’s outcome as the law. The author details issues of “e-taint” when jurors use the internet and twitter against the direct orders or the court. 

    Goldstein, Brandt. Storming the Court: How a Band of Yale Law Students Sued the President and Won (2005).
    KF 228 .U5 G65 2005
     
    Yale Law students and their professor battle the Justice Department and Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to win freedom for three hundred Haitian exiles wrongly detained at Guantánamo Bay. This real life legal thriller is written by one of the former students involved in the case. 

    Harr, Jonathan. A Civil Action (1995).
    KF 228 .A7 H37 1995
     
    This compelling portrait of the largest environmental case in Massachusetts is a page turner from beginning to end. The author had full access to the lawyers for the plaintiffs from the start of the litigation. 

    Kluger, Richard. Simple Justice: The History of Brown vs. Board of Education and Black America’s Struggle for Equality (revised & expanded ed. 2004).
    KF 4155 .K55 2004    
    More than a historical account of the five consolidated cases ultimately known as Brown v. Board of Education, this is an especially well-researched and compelling story of race relations and the struggle for black equality in the United States. 

    Lewis, Anthony. Gideon’s Trumpet (1964).
    KF 228 .G5 L4
     
    Lewis recounts the story of Gideon v. Wainwright, a pre-Miranda Supreme Court case in which the Court held that an indigent defendant has the right under the fourteenth amendment to have a lawyer provided to assist with a defense. 

    Newbeck, Phyl. Virginia Hasn’t Always Been for Lovers: Interracial Marriage Bans and the Case of Richard and Mildred Loving (2004).
    KFV 2495.5 .N49 2004
     Richard and Mildred Loving were convicted in 1959 of violating Virginia's ban on interracial marriage; jail time would be suspended as long as they lived outside of Virginia. Their appeal led to the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Loving v. Virginia declaring anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional.  Newbeck places the arguments over interracial liaisons within the civil rights struggle.  

    Stern, Gerald M. The Buffalo Creek Disaster (1977).
    KF 228 .P75 S7 1977
     
    The survivors of townspeople killed as the result of a massive flood brought on by the collapse of a coal company’s coal waste refuse pile sued the company responsible for the environmental disaster. This account of the lawsuit details the use of the legal system to bring evidence of corporate irresponsibility to light. 

    Stern, Seth & Stephen Wermiel. Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion (2010).
    KF 8745 .B68 S74 2010
     
    Justice Brennan was a key justice on the Supreme Court of the mid-twentieth century, involved in battles over abortion rights, affirmative action, the death penalty, obscenity law, and the constitutional right to privacy. Appointed by Eisenhower, he delivered his last opinion from the bench in 1990 and retired a month later. Justice Brennan is a revealing insider look at both Supreme Court history and the life of William Brennan.