I love July, because I get to write posts that serve both rising 1Ls as well as applicants who are ramping up for the admissions season ahead of us.
Both groups often ask me to recommend reading for the summer, because that's when people have a bit more time on their hands. The following books will make for some funny-looking beach reading, but they're actually not funny-looking among the tribe you're about to join, for better or worse.
Below are some classics to get you thinking about the American legal system and legal reasoning. It is geared mainly towards common law, the case method, and litigation, but then again so is most, if not all, of your 1L curriculum:
- Benjamin Cardozo's The Nature of the Judicial Process
- Allan Farnsworth's Introduction to the Legal System of the United States
- Oliver Wendell Holmes's The Path of the Law
- Edward Levi's An Introduction to Legal Reasoning
- Roscoe Pound's An Introduction to the Philosophy of Law
If you want to get a taste of a particular area of the law, the Nutshell series is a good starter to familiarize yourself with the vocabulary and issues for different subjects. Typical 1L courses include Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, Torts, Property (specifically Real Property, as distinguished from Intellectual Property), and Contracts, so you might start with those. Warning: if you find that kind of reading terminally boring, law school (and legal practice) might not be for you. If you find it intellectually stimulating, carry on.
I also came across this handy list of recommended reading designed to cultivate broader, transferable skills that you'll need to succeed in the long term, courtesy of Frank Michael D'Amore at Law.com ("Summer Reading for Boosting Lawyers' Skills and Spirit"). Check it out.
You might also try The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law, which is a fount of wisdom aimed at Young Grasshoppers, mainly about how not to annoy law firm partners (or law professors, for that matter).
And finally, bookmark or RSS the wonderful Legal Skills Prof Blog.
Do you have suggestions to add? Also, are there any classics out there with a focus on statutory law (vs. common law)? Please share in the comments.
Former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and a recovering lawyer, Anna Ivey founded Ivey Consulting to help college, law school, and MBA applicants navigate the admissions process. Read more admissions tips in The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions, recently updated and available as an e-book. Follow Anna on Twitter (@annaivey).