Books lawyers should read
Nasty People: How to Stop Being Hurt by Them Without Becoming One of
Them by Jay Carter. Every new attorney should be armed with some defenses
for dealing with nasty partners, co-workers, support staff, clients,
court personnel and the general public.
Sioux Falls, S.D.
The Likeability Factor by Tim Sanders. This book provides excellent
tips to improve your ability to communicate professionally and thereby
significantly enhance success. For lawyers who rely on communication for
their success, this book is a must! I have found this one of the most
helpful and successful tools to improve my work.
For all new women attorneys, particularly those going into larger law
firms, I recommend Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101
Unconscious Mistakes Women Make that Sabotage Their Careers by Lois P. Frankel.
The book covers topics ranging from the dangers of sharing too much
personal information at the office to effective verbal and e-mail
communication to professional image*all in short chapters arranged by "mistake"
(great for the time-starved new attorney).
Mark Herrmann’s The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law. Although it’s
geared toward litigators, the practical advice about interacting with
partners, assistants and clients is invaluable. It’s small and portable,
The one book that has been the greatest gift to me in this trying first
year has been the Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness. What has this book
taught me? Whether I win or lose, whether my clients pay me or stiff
me, whether they think I’m brilliant or worthless at the close of a case,
I can define my happiness and job satisfaction by other measures than
my win-loss record, income or referrals from past clients or other
attorneys. Some things are just more important.
I would give Transforming Practices: Finding Joy and Satisfaction in
the Legal Life by [ABA Journal assistant managing editor] Steven Keeva. I
am a relatively new attorney (transformed from my prior life as a
registered nurse) but found this book helpful as I started out. I recommend
rereading it every few years to keep the joy in the practice of law. I
gave the book as a gift to several of my fellow students upon
graduation from law school. Never miss an opportunity to find joy in what you
If one of my boys were graduating from law school, I’d give him a copy
of George Kaufman’s book, The Lawyer’s Guide to Balancing Life and
Work: Taking the Stress Out of Success. Kaufman helps his readers figure
out what is important in life, so this book can be very helpful for all
Without question, I would recommend How to Start And Build A Law
Practice by Jay G. Foonberg. This wonderful book has more practical
information for a beginning (and also for an experienced) lawyer than any other
I have seen in 49 years of law practice. It does a lawyer no good to
know how to write in elegant style without a client whose objectives will
be advanced by the writing.
Put another way, in order to make a rabbit stew, it is first necessary
to catch the rabbit.
Gideon’s Trumpet by Anthony Lewis; reading this book will show anyone
that lawyers make a difference in peoples’ lives for the better. Given
all of the bad news about lawyers, any new lawyer needs to know about
the good lawyers do in society.
Panama City, Fla.
Harper Lee set a high standard for all lawyers in To Kill a
Mockingbird. Her memorable characterization of country lawyer Atticus Finch
reminds us all that we are the guardians of the weak and disenfranchised, as
well as of a noble but imperfect system.
The perfect choice would be The Law by Frederic Bastiat. His analysis
of the proper role of the rule of law, coupled with his daring
identification and indictment of the hows and whys of the improper usage of the
law is as timely today as it was when it was first published in 1850.
It would have to be Bleak House by Charles Dickens. It shows the human
side of the law and the pitfalls of litigation for the parties
Le Claire, Iowa
For attorneys entering the criminal world, A Question of Evidence: The
Casebook of Great Forensic Controversies, from Napoleon to O.J. by
Colin Evans. This fascinating book analyzes the forensics used in
high-profile cases from the Shroud of Turin in the 1350s to the O.J. Simpson
case in the mid-90s. The book provides examples of the ability of
correctly interpreted forensic evidence to tell the true story for the victim,
and the ability of incorrectly interpreted (by mistake or on purpose)
forensic evidence to lie for the actual criminal and to mislead the
judge and jury.
For lawyers entering the civil law world, Difficult People at Work: How
to Cope, How to Win by Arthur Bell and Dayle Smith. This helpful book
analyzes various personality types and provides advice for dealing with
all types of people.
I’d recommend a pair of wonderfully insightful books whose content I’ve
worked to incorporate into my litigation practice. They are Courting
Justice by David Boies and Writing to Win: The Legal Writer by Steven
Stark. I’ve gifted copies because they’ve proven so useful.
As you embark on your voyage as a lawyer, The Successful Lawyer by
Gerald A. Riskin makes a great navigator. First and foremost, it important
that new lawyers create their own definitions of success and figure out
which roads they want to travel to get there, all the while juggling
the demands of trying to preserve their personal lives and time to render
service to their communities. A day spent with this book is a great
I would suggest On Bulls--t, written by Harry G. Frankfurt, a
philosophy professor at Princeton University. This treatise deconstructs BS and
looks at it from a philosophical, linguistic and conceptual
perspective. As I enter my last year of law school, this book’s subject matter
becomes more and more relevant with every passing day.