Suggested summer activities
Incoming students often ask what they can do now to prepare for law school. Our advice is to enjoy the summer because you will work very hard in law school.
Incoming law students also ask whether there is anything they should read before starting law school. The list of books, articles, movies and TV series below was compiled over several years by asking law professors, law students, and recent graduates what recommendations they had for incoming law students. This is by no means a required reading list, nor a comprehensive one, but if you feel like reading or watching something law-related, you are likely to find something that interests you here. If you encounter something not on this list that you’d recommend to others, please let us know by e-mailing Associate Dean Susan Krinsky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other general suggestions from our faculty and others:
- Read leading newspapers daily to get a sense of the world beyond the law.
- Read good fiction – you’ll have less time for pleasure reading during law school, and it will give you a greater sense of perspective.
- Read a thriller novel of your choice about a lawyer, for the same reason athletes shout before a big game—get psychologically ready, and get excited about law school.
About Law School and the Legal Profession
- T. George & S. Sherry, What Every Law Student Really Needs to Know: An Introduction to the Study of Law (2009).
- David Gray, Donald Gifford, Mark Graber, William Richman, David Super, and Michael Van Alstine, Get a Running Start: Your Comprehensive Guide to the First Year Curriculum (2016).
- Orin Kerr, How to Read a Case, http://www.volokh.com/files/howtoreadv2.pdf (2007).
- Karl Llewellyn, The Bramble Bush: On Our Law and Its Study (1961).
- H. Shapo & M. Shapo, Law School Without Fear: Strategies for Success (2008).
- R. Susskind, Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future (2013)
Real Cases and the Law
- Nancy Gertner, In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate (2011)
- Linda Greenhouse, Becoming Justice Blackmun: Harry Blackmun’s Supreme Court Journey (2006).
- Jeffrey Toobin, “Heavyweight,” [about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg], The New Yorker, March 11, 2013.
Constitutional Law and History
Criminal Law and Procedure
- Wilbert Rideau, In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance (2010).
- David Simon, (Author, Producer) The Wire (in DVD format) (2002-2008).
- Abbe Smith, Case of a Lifetime: A Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Story (2009)
- Abbe Smith and Monroe Freedman (eds.), How Can You Represent Those People? (2013)
- John Barry, Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America (2006).
- Barry Commoner, The Closing Circle (1971).
- Jared Diamond, Collapse (2006).
- Oliver Houck, Taking Back Eden (2009).
- R. Lazarus & O. Houck, eds., Environmental Law Stories (2000).
- Bill McKibben, The End of Nature (1999).
- John McPhee, The Control of Nature (1990).
- Joseph Sax, Defending the Environment (1971).
- Edward Wilson, The Diversity of Life (1992).
- Louis Auchincloss, The Partners (1974); Powers of Attorney (1963).
- Albert Camus, The Stranger (1942); “The Guest.” Exile and the Kingdom (1957).
- Agatha Christie, Witness for the Prosecution (1933).
- Michael Connelly, The Lincoln Lawyer (2009) [or any of the other books in this series]
- James Cozzens, The Just and Unjust (1942).
- James Cozzens, By Love Possessed (1957).
- Charles Dickens, Bleak House (1852).
- David Ellis, The Wrong Man (2012).
- William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust (1948).
- Paul Goldstein, Havana Requiem (2012).
- Cornelius Grafton, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1980).
- John Grisham, The Firm (1991); The Client (1993); Pelican Brief (1992); A Time to Kill (1989); The Rainmaker (1995).
- Cyril Hare, Tragedy at Law (1942); An English Murder (1951).
- A.P. Herbert, Uncommon Law (2001).
- Franz Kafka, The Trial (1925).
- William Landay, Defending Jacob (2012).
- Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird (1960).
- Herman Melville, Billy Budd (1924).
- John Mortimer, Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders (2004).
- John Jay Osborne, The Associates (1979); The Paper Chase (1971).
- Kermit Roosevelt, In the Shadow of the Law: A Novel (2006).
- C.J. Sansom, Dissolution [and its sequels]
- R. Rose & S. Sergel, Twelve Angry Men (1949).
- William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice (1600); Measure for Measure (1623).
- John K. Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces (1980).
- Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Murder (1958).
- Scott Turow, Presumed Innocent (1989); The Laws of Our Fathers (1998).
Reading and Writing
- Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent
- Reading (1972).
- Bryan A. Garner, Legal Writing in Plain English (2001). [and anything else he’s written]
- Richard A. Posner, The Little Book of Plagiarism (2007).
- Richard C. Wydick, Plain English for Lawyers (4th ed. 1998).
- William Zinsser, On Writing Well (7th ed. 2006).
Mostly Philosophical and Theoretical
- Derrick Bell, And We Are Not Saved (1989); Faces At the Bottom of the Well (1993).
- Karen Clanton, Dear Sisters, Dear Daughters: Words of Wisdom from Multicultural Women Attorneys Who’ve Been There and Done That (2nd edition, 2009)
- Anita Hill & Emma Jordan, eds., Race, Gender, and Power in America (1995).
- Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr,. The Annotated Common Law (1881, 2010).
- Randall Kennedy, Race, Crime, and the Law (1998).
- Laura Nader, The Life of the Law (2002).
- Antonin Scalia, & Bryan Garner, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges (2008).
- Kimm Walton, Guerrilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams (2nd ed., 2008).
- The Accused
- Anatomy of a Murder
- Body Heat
- Breaker Morant
- A Civil Action
- Class Action
- The Client
- Closed Circuit
- Erin Brockovich
- A Few Good Men
- The Firm
- Gideon's Trumpet
- The Hurricane
- The Informant
- In the Name of the Father
- Inherit the Wind
- The Insider
- And Justice for All
- Judgment at Nuremberg
- Kramer v. Kramer
- Legally Blond
- The Lincoln Lawyer
- A Man for All Seasons
- Michael Clayton
- Miracle on 34th Street
- My Cousin Vinny
- North Country
- The Paper Chase
- The Pelican Brief
- The People v. Larry Flynt
- Presumed Innocent
- Primal Fear
- The Rainmaker
- Reversal of Fortune
- Runaway Jury
- The Social Network
- The Sweet Hereafter
- A Time to Kill
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- Twelve Angry Men
- True Believer
- The Verdict
- Witness for the Prosecution
- Young Mr. Lincoln
- West of Memphis
- Capturing the Friedmans
- Crazy Love
- Terror’s Advocate
- Hot Coffee
- Whitey: United States of America v. James Bulgur
- The Art of the Steal
- The Central Park Five
- Divorce Corporation
- The Case Against Eight
- Freeing Bernie Baran
- Gideon’s Army
- In Prison My Whole Life
- Scottsboro: An American Tragedy
- Super Chief: The Life and Legacy of Earl Warren
- Deliver Us from Evil
- Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son about His Father
- The Chamber
- Court Martial of Bill Mitchell
- A Cry in the Dark
- Gideon’s Trumpet
- Guilty as Sin
- I Am Sam
- Murder in the First
- Rules of Engagement
- The Trial (1963)
- The Wire (series)