20 Books to Read Before Law School
- Mar 14, 2023
- law school prep, lsat prep, LSAT Preparation
- Reviewed by: Matt Riley
So, you’re an aspiring law student! Or, maybe you’re still deciding whether or not to apply, whether you should take the LSAT, or you’re about to start law school and you want to set yourself up for success. Well, you’ve come to the right place! Blueprint has you covered with our essential recommended reading list of the best books to read before law school.
Finding Your Path
1. “So You Want to Be a Lawyer,” by Lisa Fairchild Jones, Timothy B. Francis, and Walter C. Jones
Goodreads Rating: 4.00
This book provides advice on many essential topics for law school hopefuls. Topics covered include choosing a law school, the law school admissions process, and career opportunities for law school graduates.
2. “24 Hours with 24 Lawyers,” by Jasper Kim
Goodreads Rating: 3.79
Kim’s book follows 24 lawyers with 24 different careers over a 24-hour time period, giving perspective on what various lawyers’ day-to-day lives really look like. Spanning many different paths, readers can gain insight into which path within the law most aligns with their goals and interests.
3. “The Official Guide to Legal Specialties,” by Lisa L. Abrams
Goodreads Rating: 3.61
Abrams covers a wide range of legal specialties and gives an overview of each. From public interest to the private sector, this is a great book to keep on your bookshelf as you explore your career options within the law.
4. “1L of a Ride: A Well-Traveled Professor’s Roadmap to Success in the First Year of Law School,” by Andrew J. McClurg
Goodreads Rating: 4.07
Written by an experienced law professor, this law school book details how students can make the most of their first year in law school. McClurg covers just about every topic related to academic success in legal education, including class participation, effective note-taking, and law school exam strategies. He also draws on real stories and materials from his past 1L students to help enhance your skill set.
5. “Law School Confidential: A Complete Guide to the Law School Experience: By Students, for Students,” by Robert H. Miller
Goodreads Rating: 3.72
“Law School Confidential” is a chronological account of what students can expect on their law school journey, as described by real law students. The advice covers topics from taking the LSAT and securing financial aid, all the way through taking the bar exam. It’s sure to answer your many questions about what law school has in store.
6. “Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams,” by Richard Michael Fischl and Jeremy Paul
Goodreads Rating: 3.80
This book is all about how to ace your law school exams. Professors Fischl and Paul outline how to engage with the paradoxical nature of legal analysis and then how to apply it to exam questions. “Getting to Maybe” is for anyone who wants to improve their confidence and performance on law school exams.
Starting Your Career
7. “The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law,” by Mark Herrmann
Goodreads Rating: 4.18
Steeped in humor and full of advice, this collection of essays covers a number of topics essential for starting a legal career. Whether you have questions about law firm etiquette, how to do legal research, or how to dress for success on the job, Herrmann has you covered.
8. “Lawyering from the Heart,” by Deborah Kenn
Goodreads Rating: 4.00
Through detailed accounts of Kenn’s interviews with 22 public interest lawyers, she provides an inspiring look into careers in public interest law. Whether they’ve been practicing for five years or over thirty, this book provides advice on the emotional and financial implications of choosing a path in public interest law.
9. “The Student Loan Handbook for Law Students and Attorneys,” by Adam S. Minsky
Goodreads Rating: 4.00
Law school is a massive financial investment in addition to one’s time. According to educationdata.org, the average law school graduate owes $180,000 in student debt. If you’re wondering how to pay for law school, Minsky’s guide helps law students and graduates navigate the esoteric student loan industry and discusses the best strategies to repay loans based on your career path.
Finding Balance and Taking Care of Your Mental Health
10. “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity,” by David Allen
Goodreads Rating: 4.00
I’ll admit it: this one’s pretty self-helpy. But if that’s your thing (or even if it’s not), this book is super helpful! Allen focuses on goal setting, execution, and reassessment. He also covers overcoming feelings of stress and anxiety as well as not being overwhelmed by what you’re not doing, all of which are part of an essential toolkit to have when starting law school.
11. “The Happy Lawyer: Making a Good Life in the Law,” by Nancy Levit and Douglas O. Linder
Goodreads Rating: 3.33
The central idea of Levit’s and Linder’s book is that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to being a lawyer. Referencing brain chemistry and the science of happiness, they cover how students can pick the right law school and legal career that will maximize their long-term happiness, all tailored to a unique individual’s values, goals, interests, and strengths.
12. “How to Fight a Hydra,” by Josh Kaufman
Goodreads Rating: 4.09
“How to Fight a Hydra” is essential reading for anyone trying to accomplish a hefty goal. This book is short but meaningful as it goes through a fictional tale of a soldier fighting a hydra, a creature who every time the soldier cuts off one head, two more grow in its place. This is not only a fun, magical, quick read, but it also motivates readers to overcome fear, self-doubt, and procrastination.
Nonfiction Books About the Law
13. “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption,” by Bryan Stevenson
Goodreads Rating: 4.63
Bryan Stevenson founded the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in 1989 in order to fight mass incarceration in the United States. “Just Mercy” is his memoir in which he details the founding and early days of EJI in Montgomery, Alabama. The book also tells the story of Walter McMillian, an innocent man who was sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit. In this powerful memoir, Stevenson examines our criminal justice system in the context of our country’s racial history, advocating for criminal justice reform. The book was also turned into a film in 2019 by the same name.
14. “Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory,” by Claudio Saunt
Goodreads Rating: 4.23
“Unworthy Republic” is an account of America’s 1830 policy of expulsion of Native Americans in the West. The book follows this policy from its passing through its enactment and the legacy it leaves in modern America. While the law promises to be a vessel for justice and social good, Saunt looks at who has been left out of that promise through the enactment of unjust laws.
15. “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America,” by Richard Rothstein
Goodreads Rating: 4.45
Rothstein writes as an expert on housing policy and takes readers through the history of de jure segregation in America, or the locally passed policies and laws that have led to persistent housing segregation across the United States. Like “Unworthy Republic,” “The Color of Law” provides essential background for aspiring law students seeking a legal profession into how the law has at times been weaponized against certain groups.
16. “My Own Words,” by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams
Goodreads Rating: 4.04
“My Own Words” is a collection of works chosen by the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her biographers. The collection includes a range of intellectual topics from Ginsburg’s life. Whether it’s her opinion on women in the law, her love of opera, her relationship with her family, or her friendship with the late Justice Scalia, this collection presents a comprehensive look at the intellectual and the woman that Justice Ginsburg was.
Fiction Featuring Lawyers
17. “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee
Goodreads Rating: 4.27
If you’re like me, you read “To Kill a Mockingbird” in ninth-grade English class and absolutely loved it. Maybe you knew back then that you wanted to be a lawyer, or maybe the book takes on a new meaning now that you’ve set your sights on joining the legal profession. Narrated by Scout Finch living in Depression-era Alabama, the story follows Scout’s dad and prominent lawyer, Atticus, as he defends a Black man named Tom Robinson, who is on trial for a crime he did not commit. Not only is it an exploration of the role that lawyers play in providing social justice, but it also explores the human capacity for empathy and compassion.
18. “The Trial,” by Franz Kafka
Goodreads Rating: 3.96
“The Trial” is a chilling story of an upstanding banker who is suddenly charged and tried for a crime about which he can get no information. The story has resonated with people for generations for its description of the legal system from the client’s perspective. In fact, even the late Justice Anthony Kennedy recommended it be read by all lawyers, especially for the way Kafka describes the client’s perception of a seemingly clandestine legal system.
19. “BIGLAW,” by Lindsay Cameron
Goodreads Rating: 3.62
BIGLAW follows protagonist Mackenzie Corbett, who has finally achieved her dream life in New York City. She has her dream boyfriend, dream closet, and dream job at a big, fancy New York law firm. However, she finds the gig isn’t all it’s cracked up to be between the long hours, lack of sleep, and torment from competitive colleagues. Several lawyers have found that this story accurately mirrors reality in a big law firm, making it a must-read for anyone considering a career in corporate law.
Preparing for the LSAT
20. “LSAT Strategy Book,” by Blueprint Prep
If you’re seeking a law degree and you’ve yet to take the LSAT and you’re looking to kick your test prep up a notch, Blueprint’s “LSAT Strategy Book” is essential for your testing success. Blueprint has all the materials you need, including LSAT writing prompts and LSAT logic games example questions. Or, if you’re looking for something a little more hands-on, you can check out our online classes and tutoring programs here. (Add link)
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