Books designed to prepare you for the experience of law school:

 

1L of a Ride | Buy
Andrew J. McClurg (Thompson/Reuters, 2009)

Written by a law school professor that provides a beginning-to-end roadmap of what to expect the first year, focusing on practical advice about academic and emotional success. Includes comments and input from real 1L students and law professors.

 

Bridging the Gap Between College and Law School: Strategies for Success | Buy
Ruta K. Stropus & Charlotte D. Taylor (2d ed. 2009)

Rather than giving only general advice, or black letter law and some practice problems for a specific subject, Bridging the Gap provides the context, the process, and the problems. Written by two former law school professors who used these techniques with thousands of students, Bridging the Gap is a guide to what really works in law school.

 

Law School Without Fear: Strategies for Success | Buy
Marshal & Helene Shapo (3d ed. 2009)

Written by two lawyers for their son before he entered law school, this light-hearted book provides practical advice and useful information about the law school experience.

 

Starting Off Right in Law School | Buy
Carolyn J. Nygren (Carolina Academic Press, 1997)

Introduces basic legal concepts, vocabulary, and analysis in the context of one hypothetical case, putting the law school experience in context and giving guidance to help students balance their academic, personal, and social lives.

 

What Every Law Student Really Needs To Know: An Introduction to the Study of Law | Buy
Tracy E. George and Suzanna Sherry (Aspen, 2009)

A book that aims to decrease students’ anxiety and increase their chances of achieving academic success by preparing them for the first year. Also contains chapters on government and the law, and the structure of the American legal system.  

 

Books focusing on general knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in law school courses:

 

Mastering the Law School Exam | Buy
Suzanna Darrow-Kleinhaus (Thompson-West, 2007)

Designed to provide law students with a knowledgeable, reasonable, and rational voice to navigate the intricacies of law school exams. This book is practical rather than theoretical, and provides excellent examples of how to approach a law school exam that students may use throughout their law school career.

 

Reading Like a Lawyer: Time-Saving Strategies for Reading Law Like an Expert | Buy
Ruth Ann McKinney (Carolina Academic Press, 2005)

Shows students how to read law quickly and accurately – a critical and indispensable skill in law school that can make or break the career of any aspiring lawyer.

 

Plain English for Lawyers | Buy
Richard C. Wydick (5th ed. Carolina Academic Press, 2005)

A short book intended to help students write clearly and concisely – another indispensable skill in law school, including straightforward suggestions for improving writing style.

 

Succeeding in Law School | Buy
Herbert N. Ramy (Carolina Academic Press, 1st or 2d ed. 2010)

Mindful of the rigorous learning environment new law students face, this book is a useful tool for helping students get the most out of their abilities.

 

Dramatic legal non-fiction and film:

 

A Civil Action | Buy
Jonathan Harr (1996)

A real-life water contamination court case involving two large corporations accused of contaminating a Massachusetts water table with cancer-causing materials that caused many deaths. Also made into a movie by the same name, starring John Travolta and Robert Duvall.

 

Gideon’s Trumpet | Buy
Anthony Lewis (1964)

A story involving a poor man’s fight for legal counsel. Based upon the case of Gideon v. Wainwright, in which the U.S. Supreme Court held defendants have the right to an attorney even if they cannot afford it. Also became a made-for-TV movie on CBS in 1980, starring Henry Fonda and Jose Ferrer.

 

The Sweet Hereafter | Buy
Russell Banks (1997)

A gripping story of a deadly school bus accident in a small town that killed many of its children and the parents’ class action lawsuit. The novel is based upon an actual 1989 bus crash in Texas, where 21 children drown and lawyers faced ethics charges in their rush to follow suit in the aftermath. Also made into a Canadian film in 1997, directed by Adam Egoyan.

 

Circumstantial Evidence | Buy
Pete Earley (1996)

A non-fiction account of a black man with no criminal record who was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for murdering a white female college student in Alabama in 1986. A young black lawyer commenced his own investigation and found the trial tainted by procedural mistakes, conflicting eyewitness accounts, and outright perjury. Shines light on equal justice and the death penalty in America.