Reading remains a part of your life even when you finish law school. However, reading includes more than books on learning and development.
Make sure to have books on your reading list that allow for personal downtime, personal growth, career inspiration, and career management, enabling you to balance how you spend your spare time.
1. Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy
Resurrection is less well-known than War and Peace, but this excellent novel by Tolstoy raises profound questions about the justice of some laws. Nechlyudov is a nobleman who seeks redemption for a sin committed years ago. Maslova is a maid with whom he had a brief affair that then turned to prostitution when he fired her.
After being framed for murder, she serves time in Siberia, where Nekhlyudov visits her. While there, he listens to the stories of the other convicts, slowly realizing how the aristocratic life shields him and his peers from the oppression, cruelty, and misery of others.
The importance of the Resurrection is proof that a justice system without humanity and fairness can lead to dreadful consequences.
2. The Story of My Life by Clarence Darrow
Famous American lawyer Clarence Darrow had a successful legal career that spanned half a decade defending high-profile clients. He also wrote profusely, including books about his cases, works of fiction, plays, and film and television.
In The Story of My Life, Darrow wrote about representing Leopold and Loeb in their murder trial and the teacher John Scopes from the famous “Monkey” Trial teacher in 1925. In addition, Clarence Darrow’s legal career included activism. In this book, he describes his motivation to fight injustices and oppression by helping establish union workers’ rights, revealing the horrors of child labor, and exposing the terrible conditions in the coal mines. Make this a must-read if you hope to use your legal career for more than just making money.
3. The Marble and the Sculptor: From Law School to Law Practice by Keith Lee
Here is a book that can answer several questions and guide young legal professionals coming out of law school. Lee provides a framework for success with advice on everything from choosing suitable classes at college to the mistakes you must avoid when searching for your first legal job. Included is a chapter on writing well, which every legal practitioner needs. Whatever your ideal practice area or legal career, this book is a great read to help steer you toward it.
4. And the Dead Shall Rise by Steve Oney
Based on the famous 1913 trial of Frank Leo, a Jewish factory manager accused of raping and murdering a 13-year-old girl. His death sentence conviction in Atlanta, Georgia, came after the testimony of just one person in a trial that was surrounded by a media frenzy and anti-Semitic tensions.
The Governor of Georgia commuted Frank’s death sentence to life in prison because of the problems with the trial, but a lynch mob abducted Frank and killed him. The events surrounding this trial sparked the revival of the Klu Klux Klan and the birth of the Jewish Civil Rights organization known as the Anti-Defamation League. And The Dead Shall Rise does more than look into this famous case; it shows the dangers of mob rule in cases where justice fails.
5. The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law by Mark Hermann
Legal life, as seen through the eyes of a curmudgeonly (bad-tempered) lawyer and his secretary, provides a humorous fictional work that offers practical advice on dealing with the ups and downs. The book’s valuable anecdotal and tongue-in-cheek insights include everything from legal strategies to how a lawyer should dress for success. Whether you are a fledgling or a seasoned lawyer, this book can help you improve. Read this book for a laugh and advice on a stressful day.
6. My Life in Court by Louis Nizer
Attorney Louis Nizer writes about his participation in some of the most significant trademark, copyright, and defamation cases in the U.S. His engaging writing makes it easy to read this book as he divulges the legal strategies and tactics used to fight these complex cases. In the book, Nizer’s section on defamation cases makes for some thought-provoking reading, and he highlights the harm caused when someone willfully tries to harm another person’s character.
7. The New Lawyer’s Handbook by Karen Thalacker
Law school prepares you to research, write and think like a lawyer, but experience teaches you much more. Karen Thalacker uses this book to give some invaluable tips to help you get through awkward moments, deal with demanding clients and keep a healthy balance between your professional and personal life.
8. The Young Lawyer’s Jungle Book: A Survival Guide by Thane Messenger
Another book that bridges the difference between law school and practicing law is this 1999 masterpiece that has become timeless. The book is a fun and easy read, and all its advice is hugely supportive. Read about workplace etiquette, researching, managing your workload, drafting memos, dealing with clients, and working with superiors. This survival guide has a place on every lawyer’s bookshelf.
9. How to Argue and Win Every Time by Gerry Spence
Besides being a well-known lawyer, Gerry Spence knows the importance of communication if you want to become a better lawyer. Learn about the importance of seeing things from the perspective of others and listening. From the book, you will learn how to communicate effectively and convincingly, remain credible, and understand prejudice.
Read the story of Josef K, a person arrested and prosecuted by a remote and distant authority. The nature of his crime never becomes known to Josef or the reader. The Trial is an essential read for law students who need to understand what can happen when the rule of law is ignored, especially by the authorities. These themes apply to both administrative and criminal law.