YES, haha. I almost posted it for laughs. Holy crap!
Edited. Just for fun:
Boalt Optional Reading wrote:Optional Reading
Reading Suggestions for Entering Law Students: Law students sometimes ask if there is anything they should read in advance of enrolling at Berkeley Law. To answer that question, the Berkeley Law faculty compiled the following bibliography to occupy your insouciant hours. The books range from the serious to the entertaining. They are not required.
I. The American Legal System: Fundamentals
Lawrence Meir Friedman, American Law: An Introduction (2002 Edition)
Lawrence Friedman's revised and updated edition of this accessible and comprehensive work offers a user-friendly road map through the bewildering complexity of the American legal system. Rich in anecdote and historical detail, it explains how laws—from the Constitution to decisions of local zoning boards—are made and administered by courts and administrative agencies. It also surveys the wide variety of law—antitrust, criminal justice, family law, torts, consumer protection and commercial law—and explores the relationship between law and society.
Ellen Greenberg, The Supreme Court Explained (1997)
Ellen Greenberg explains how the Supreme Court works, and how cases (such as those you will spend hundreds of hours reading) work their way up through the legal system. The book includes a helpful list of all present and past Supreme Court justices, indicating the president who appointed them, the party in the Senate majority when they were confirmed, and the relationship between court personnel and many of the court's most important cases.
Robert Kagan, Adversarial Legalism: The American Way of Law (2003)
Kagan offers an important and insightful study of American legal culture. Its chief thesis is that the American way of law is best described as ‘adversarial legalism,’ or the process by which policy making, implementation, and dispute resolution are dominated by lawyers and litigation.
Barry Scheck, Peter Neufeld, Jim Dwyer, Actual Innocence: When Justice Goes Wrong and How to Make It Right (2003)
Actual Innocence is an account of the work of Scheck's and Neufeld's "Innocence Project," describing some of the Project's most prominent and successful cases, and a scathing condemnation of the shortcomings of the American system of criminal justice.
Jeffrey Toobin, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court (2008)
Despite a Court dominated by Republican appointees, Toobin paints not a conservative revolution but a period of intractable moderation.
II. Basic Legal Methods
Edward Levi, Introduction to Legal Reasoning (1962)
Another classic, widely recommended for beginning law students. It helps give substance to the mysterious phrase, "thinking like a lawyer." This one is old but still a thing of beauty.
Berring and Edinger, The Legal Research Survival Manual (2002)
This book is written to prepare the first-year law student for the first semester. It is short, flip and written by a Boalt professor and a Boalt reference librarian. It is no substitute for a course in legal research, but if you are coming to law school without any legal background, it is designed for you.
III. Legal Fiction and Legal Realities
Mellisa Fay Greene, Praying for Sheetrock: A Work of Nonfiction (Reprint Edition, 1992)
Praying for Sheetrock tells the story of how an African-American union shop steward turned county commissioner, with the help of a group of legal services lawyers, worked profound social change in McIntosh County, Georgia. The book, written like a novel, has been described as a tale of how "large and important things happen in a very little place." Widely recommended.
Paula Sharp, Crows Over a Wheatfield (1998)
This is a beautifully written account of a woman judge who faces the challenge of overcoming her own past. This book explores issues of domestic violence, mental health, criminal law and the human spirit. Some truly memorable characters are there along the way. This is a great read.
Barry Werth, Damages: One Family's Legal Struggles in the World of Medicine (1998)
Damages tells the story of one family's experience with the world of medical malpractice litigation. This is what the New York Times book review had to say about it: "Damages deserves to be read and thought about and discussed by people on all sides of the complex and often ugly collisions of law and medicine..." It comes highly recommended by torts and legal ethics teachers alike.
Gerald M. Stern, The Buffalo Creek Disaster (1977)
This book, used by many first-year civil procedure teachers, tells the story of how one coal mining town, devastated by a flood caused when a coal company dam failed, sued the company and won. It is an engaging and utterly painless way of getting a sense of how a complex tort case proceeds through the civil litigation process. Best read in conjunction with Kai Erikson's book, described immediately below.
Kai Erickson, Everything in Its Path (1978)
This book also deals with the Buffalo Creek disaster, but deals less with the litigation and more with the effect of the disaster on the victims' everyday lives. If you read the two books together, you will have an opportunity to see what part of lived experience can be reflected in and addressed by civil litigation, and what part can not. This discontinuity between legal relevance and lived relevance lies at the center of much current legal scholarship on the lawyering process. These two books, read together, would provide a good introduction to many of these issues.
Anthony Lewis, Make No Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment (1977)
Make No Law follows the progress of a 1960 libel suit against the New York Times, filed by a Montgomery, Alabama, city official. A great read for anyone even vaguely interested in the First Amendment. Still available in paperback.
Peter Schuck, Agent Orange on Trial (1987)
A beautifully written treatment of complex tort litigation, this book tells the story of the Agent Orange litigation against Dow Chemical Company (and others) brought by Vietnam veterans who claimed injury for exposure to the herbicide. Highly, widely recommended.
David Lebedoff, Cleaning Up: The Story Behind the Biggest Legal Bonanza of Our Time (1997)
This book tells the story of the litigation surrounding the Exxon Valdez spill. Responsibly reported, the story is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how a relatively large firm in Minnesota became involved in mass tort litigation. The author describes the firm's trepidations as well as its somewhat awkward relationship with small firms and solo practitioners specializing in representing tort victims. The book also discusses the media coverage of the case and the jury deliberations about liability and damages. A complex story, and a slightly more difficult read than some other selections on this list, the book provides insight into how tort law works and why it is controversial in business and industrial circles.
Richard Kluger, Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality (1986)
This long (823 pages) but fascinating book details the legal strategy painstakingly designed and implemented by Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall and others, culminating in the Supreme Court's 1954 school desegregation decision in Brown v. Board of Education. It is an inspiring and beautifully crafted retelling, reminding us that while law can be mobilized as an instrument of social change, the process is neither easy, linear, nor quick. This book is a classic.
Marc Reisner, Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water (1993)
Although not exactly legal, this book is a fabulous primer for understanding California water wars.
Michael D. Davis and Hunter R. Clark, Thurgood Marshall: Warrior at the Bar, Rebel on the Bench (1994)
Davis and Clark's biography of the Supreme Court's first African-American justice, described as "affectionate and engaging" by Kirkus Reviews, tells the story of Marshall's remarkable legal career. After graduating from Howard Law School in 1935, Marshall argued 32 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including Shelly v. Allwright (voting rights), Shelly v. Kraemer (racially restrictive real estate covenants) and Brown v. Board of Education. He won 29 of the 32, before being appointed as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Patricia Williams, The Alchemy of Race and Rights (1992)
Patricia Williams, an African-American law professor, wrote this largely autobiographical book that describes her experiences in the legal academy and in American society at large. In the process, she provides a powerful argument for continued struggle in achieving the still-illusive goal of racial justice in American society.
Ed Cray, Chief Justice: A Biography of Earl Warren (1997)
This book chronicles the career of Earl Warren, one of Boalt Hall's graduates. It begins with his childhood in Bakersfield and continues through his career as a district attorney, attorney general for California, governor of California and chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. There are references to some Boalt faculty (Max Radin, Adrian Kragen, Arthur Sherry) as well as other famous Californians. At over 500 pages, the book is long, but it's still a page turner.
V. Legal Theory, Critical Race Theory and Feminist Jurisprudence
Grant Gilmore, Ages of American Law (1979)
Gilmore was one of the major figures in 20th Century legal thinking and this short, readable book is a gem. It will explain much of what is going on beneath the surface of law school. It is a great introduction to legal theory.
Robin West, Caring for Justice (1997)
In this book, West synthesizes her various earlier works on feminist jurisprudence. Students in Professor Krieger's sex discrimination class frequently described this book as a kind of scholarly "sigh of relief," helping them articulate what they found missing in traditional approaches to law and lawyering, but couldn't quite get into words.
Richard Delgado, et al., eds., Critical Race Theory: The Cutting Edge (1995)
This is the compendium of critical race scholarship. Topical sections include: Essentialism and Anti-essentialism; Race, Sex, Class, and Their Intersections; Legal Institutions, Critical Pedagogy, Minorities in the Law; Critical Race Feminism; Critical White Studies; and Storytelling, Counter-storytelling, and Naming One's Own Reality, to mention a few.
D. Kelly Weisberg, ed., Feminist Legal Theory: Foundations (1993)
In this book, Weisberg has collected the foundational works in feminist legal theory. Topical categories include: Theories of Law; Equality and Difference; Elements of Feminist Legal Theory; Essentialism; and Feminist Legal Methods.
Daniel A. Farber & Suzanna Sherry, Beyond All Reason: The Radical Assault on Truth in American Law (1992)
This book represents the "anti-critical studies" perspective. Boalt Professor Dan Farber and Suzanna Sherry critique critical race and critical gender theory with relative restraint and patience, arguing that the critical legal studies assault on liberal legal models and methods is unproductive at best, dangerous at worst.
Henry Louis Gates, et al., Speaking of Race, Speaking of Sex: Hate Speech, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (1995)
Another counterpoint to critical race/critical gender theory, this one focusing on hate speech and First Amendment issues. The various constituent essays cover race theory and the First Amendment, the regulation of hate speech on campus, the hate speech debate from a lesbian and gay perspective, and more.
Clara Bingham & Laura Leedy Gansler, Class Action: The Story of Lois Jenson and the Landmark Case that Changed Sexual Harassment Law (2003)
A collaboration between a journalist and a lawyer, this volume describes in elaborate detail the tortuous path of the the Duluth mine sexual harassment case (first class-action sexual harassment lawsuit) Jenson v. Eveleth Mines.
VI. Law School Guides and the Law School Experience
Lani Guinier, Michelle Fine, & Jane Balin, Becoming Gentlemen: Women, Law School & Institutional Change (1997)
A radically different take on the subject of legal education, this book describes and reflects upon a study of female law students at the University of Pennsylvania between 1987 and 1992. Guinier and her co-authors consider the effect of law school's emphasis on emotional detachment, the cultivation of verbal aggressiveness and legal pedagogical methods on the mental health and academic achievement of female law students.
Steven J. Frank, Learning the Law: Success in Law School and Beyond (2000)
This guide goes into detail on the nature and function of different legal institutions, reading cases and statutes, understanding the relationship between cases and statues, and, more generally, how to approach the study of law.