Top Legal Reads For New Legal Professionals

Posted on 02-17-2016 by
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Whenever we enter into a new work environment we like to be able to have an idea of what to expect. The only way we can achieve that expectancy is to read and conduct research. So if somebody is entering the legal profession, the best thing they can do is to read up on court cases and any other legal-related books. Thanks to Michael Krauss from Business Insider, here are some top legal books to consider reading in your spare time.

1.Truman Capote, "In Cold Blood," (1966).

Capote's masterful account of the 1959 murders of Herbert Clutter and his family in Holcomb, Kan., "In Cold Blood" is a study in evil. It is also a provocative examination of our criminal justice system and capital punishment.

 2.  Brooke Goldstein and Aaron Eitan Meyer, "Lawfare: The War Against Free Speech," (2011).

"Lawfare," the use of litigation as a weapon to silence and punish an opponent, is a significant challenge to free speech and rule of law today. Bad lawyers created lawfare; good lawyers must combat this subversion of the goals of our profession.

3. Harper Lee, "To Kill a Mockingbird," (1960).

Read this high school favorite again, and this time focus on the jurists: the judge, the prosecutor and defense attorney Atticus Finch himself. Did Atticus react ethically to the racism of the system? How should you behave, as a lawyer, when presented with a case of flagrant injustice?

4.  Karl N. Llewellyn, "The Bramble Bush," (1930).

This collection of lectures was delivered to the entering class at Columbia Law School in 1929. It is partly a pedagogical case-briefing primer, partly a broadly jurisprudential analysis of the concept of law. In the words of my law school teacher Grant Gilmore, "They are all informed with Llewellyn's infectiously exciting and only occasionally irritating personality. They are alive with the buoyant optimism which their author felt as he stood, quite consciously, at a decisive turning point in American legal thought and happily surveyed the future."

 5. Herman Melville, "Billy Budd, Sailor," (1924).

This novella, published posthumously, is a magnificent examination of the role of a judge. Is "judicial restraint" possible? Is it advisable? What is the relation between justice and adjudication? This short read (about a drumhead court-martial at sea) is a masterpiece on legal interpretation.

6. Publius, "The Federalist Papers," (1787-1788.)

"Publius" — in reality Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay — published 85 short essays promoting the ratification of the proposed Constitution of the new United States. These philosophical gems today form the bedrock of the American republic.

 7. Patrick J. Schiltz, "On Being a Happy, Healthy, and Ethical Member of an Unhappy, Unhealthy, and Unethical Profession," 

Vanderbilt Law Review, Volume 52, 1999. Let this be the first law review article you ever read. Schiltz, today a U.S. district judge, succinctly lays out the promise and perils of our profession. Read it now, before you start law school, to achieve the former and avoid the latter.

8. B.F. Skinner, "Walden Two," (1948).

Politicians, many of them lawyers, are vulnerable to the hubristic belief that additional laws will mold people to do the right thing. Skinner's novel depicts a utopia where citizens, lacking free will, happily respond to government-created incentives and never commit evil deeds. "Walden Two" is, I think, best seen as dystopia — a scary description of the premises of social-legal planning.

 9. Barry Werth, "Damages," (1998).

This superb journalistic effort describes a tragedy that morphed into what was then the biggest medical malpractice settlement in the history of Connecticut. Werth's masterful presentation shows us tort law in action, as seen in practice and from both plaintiffs' and defendants' perspectives.

 While these books have been mentioned as good reads , these are not the only good legal books to read. What are some legal books that you believe to be good reads? Share your thoughts with us below!

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