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books to read before 1L starts

Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 12:44 pm
by chicagored
What books would 1Ls suggest to those of us who will be entering law school in Fall 2007? Turow mentions hornbooks and various prep guides. Does it make sense to invest in these before classes start? What about other books describing the judicial process or the historical perspective of various legislation?

Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 1:13 pm
by cspin16
Typically, I would say rest, have fun, and stop trying to get an advantage... but it is understandable that the mistique and uncertainty of law school will prompt some people into a "preemtive action" to make themselves feel better, and on that front you raise and interesting question, for which I have a couple suggestions:

1. Getting to Maybe: Great book on exams, but if you read it before the semester it will give you an ability to spot important issues throughout the semester, so you won't be waling blind for 2 months.

2. Hornbooks are good, but reading them before the semester... My guess is that will confuse most people more than providing any help. If anything, go through the cases that will be assigned in your casebook, and write down the black letter law of each one from the hornbook. You won't completely understand them yet, but they will be there, and usefull as a guide through the class.

3. Historical Perspective: There are lots of books out there, but my suggestion is to just generally familiarize yourself with a couple names

Holmes (A bit outdated today, and by all means don't read "The Common Law")

You will be reading a lot of what these people write, so general backgrounds might be helpful in understanding the reasoning. A google search would provide sufficient information on each for this purpose.

4. Read the Constitution. Seriously. Read it, and have a general outline in your head as to how it is organized. No need to memorize it, but it is good to have that backbone.

Don't work too hard yet, because when you get to school you will be working horribly hard. The key is to stay up on the reading, and start your review for exams about 2 weeks in. If you keep up with everything as you go (trust me, this will take a lot of energy), you will be fine.

My opinion is that it would be hard to "get ahead" before you get to school. the most you could probably hope for is a general idea of what to expect, and how to handle it.

Hope this helps!

Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 4:09 pm
by chicagored
VERY HELPFUL! Thank you!

Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 6:24 pm
by letylyf
I'm with you. I'm going to be doing a lot of reading next summer. I feel so behind even just other people on here who know so much more about the law than I do! (cough kmoneys cough)

I found this which has a great little list on page 16

I've never heard of any of those books so if anyone has comments on any particular one I'd welcome that

Summer Prior to Law School Bibliography
Jacques Barzun, Simple and Direct. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.
Stephen Elias and Susan Levinkind, Legal Research: How to Find and Understand the
Law (5th ed.). Berkeley, CA: Nolo Press, 1997.
Robert Ellickson, Order Without Law: How Neighbors Settle Disputes. Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press, 1991.
Richard Epstein, Simple Rules for a Complex World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Press, 1995.
Lawrence M. Friedman, A History of American Law. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1973.
Henry M. Hart, Jr., and Albert M. Sacks, The Legal Process: Basic Problems in the
Making and Application of Law. Westbury, NY: Foundation Press, 1999.
Herbert Jacob, Law and Politics in the United States. Boston: Little, Brown, 1986.
Karl Llewellyn, The Bramble Bush: On Our Law and Its Study (8th ed.). New York:
Oceana Publications, 1985.
Richard K. Neumann, Legal Reasoning and Legal Writing: Structure, Strategy, and Style
(2nd ed.). Boston: Little, Brown, 1994.
Richard Posner, Economic Analysis of Law (4th ed.). Boston: Little, Brown, 1992.
William Strunk and E.B. White, The Elements of Style (3rd ed.). New York: Macmillan,

Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 7:17 pm
by kmoneys
hahaha -- it's only because my interests commonly intersect with law that i know so much!

with the exception of strunk and white (which i REALLY would not suggest reading altho there is a very cute illustrated version out), i have not heard of any of those books.

I have heard of (and you're gonna have to look the authors up yourself because i'm too lazy):

Getting to Maybe (about law school exams)
Bridging the Gap between College and Law School (how to study, take law exams, etc.)

Also, if you're one of those liberal minded people who thinks that you will never ever work for the MAN, i suggest reading "Broken Contract" by Richard Kahlenberg. He manages to avoid THE MAN after graduating from Harvard, but not without an uphill battle. The most memorable quote fromt he book (which I also use in my PS): "How is it that so many students can enter law school determined to use law to promote liberal ideals and leave three year later to counsel the least socially progressive elements of our society? That is the remarkable thing about HLS--not the rigor of the its first year, but the transformation that takes place in the second and third year." I recommend this waaaay above the Paper Chase and 1L.

Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 8:46 pm
by Fingersxed

Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:00 pm
by letylyf
trust me, my undergrad's in philosophy, i got it covered ;)

Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 9:17 pm

Posted: Tue Nov 14, 2006 9:27 am
by cspin16
Might be hard to get your books after commiting, when you don't know who your proffesors are going to be yet?

Posted: Tue Nov 14, 2006 10:49 am

Posted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 12:49 am
by jeff2486
4. Read the Constitution. Seriously. Read it, and have a general outline in your head as to how it is organized. No need to memorize it, but it is good to have that backbone.

I decided this is a good idea as a American in general not just a future lawyer, so I printed out a copy immediately (like a true American I couldn't just read it on my computer, I had to waste paper).

Posted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 1:26 am
by kmoneys
have people seriously not read the constitution? (and this is not at all directed at you, jeff.) i just remember having to read it in junior high, high school, and again and again in college.

i had to memorize the preamble in 8th grade and i still remember it: we the people of the united states in order to form a more perfect union establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, etc. etc.

so, yes, i guess i would agree to that suggestion. if you're planning to go to law school and you have not cracked open the constitution, i would read it. would kinda help you in that class called con law.

Posted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 1:29 am
by jeff2486
I've read parts of it, although I don't think ever as any part of school. I've never actually looked at the entire document though.

Posted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 1:31 am

Posted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 2:10 am
by letylyf
i remember once calling my intro to poli sci/us govt professor on a mistake he made during our midterm exam. the question was what is the search and seizure amendment and (it being multiple choice) IV was not listed as an answer. haha. when I pointed it out to him, he tried to argue that VI was the answer. i made him look it up and he discounted the question. the idea was to see if we really had memorized the articles and amendments to the const... and i knew them better than my prof. haha.

one of my shining moments :P

i had to memorize the preamble in middle school too! we did all those things, the preamble to the dec of ind, getteysburg address, oh fun times.

jeff the entire document is not that interesting. its mostly pretty boring laying out of rules and power divisions that you basically know already anyway if you know anything about our fed govt. studying its history and inception is much much more interesting and, i think, valuable...

Posted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 9:39 am
by Fingersxed

Posted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 12:06 pm
by letylyf
oh yes, I read that sophomore year of high school. i was doing that 'we the people' competition... no one's ever heard of it, but quite a lot of high school students participate in it. we won nationals that year :)

trust me, i'm not dumb and i know my fair share of stuff about the govt. i was just feeling like i have no idea about what they're going to be teaching us in law school... it'd be nice to be at least where most people are in terms of pre-law school reading.

Posted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 12:10 pm
by kmoneys
i did we the people too!!!!

i know what it is!!!! i can't remember if we went to nationals that year... too many speech-like competitions for me that year to keep straight.

Posted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 12:36 pm
by andyg
Leftylf - Where were the nationals held that year that you won?

Posted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 3:48 pm
by letylyf
they are always held in DC for we the people.

kmoneys, thats so cool that you were in that too!! hehe. i did that and academic decathlon... which was a lot less cool. for that we went to nationals in phoenix, but only one person on our team won a medal. he got the gold in music though... pretty neat.

Posted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 4:00 pm
by kmoneys
kmoneys, thats so cool that you were in that too!!
yeah, that just means we were both nerds. :P

Posted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 4:13 pm
by letylyf
well, I think that was already long established :)

Posted: Fri Nov 17, 2006 5:34 pm
by KatyMaria
bsatvat, you little statement about the patriot act reminded me of this letter my friend sent me earlier this week, which cracked me up:

A tornado struck North Carolina! It killed Americans! Time to declare a NEW GWOT: Global War On Tornado! Who's with me?!??!?!!?
We're gonna start by invading Hawaii. Why, you ask? Because there be lots of volcano there! What's that? Volacano has nothing to do with tornado?! They both end with AsomethingO! You commie...

Posted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 11:16 pm
by katespade
Hooray for this thread, I was just starting to research this myself. I've got:

Law School Confidential by Robert Miller (how to stay current, study, take exams, apply for jobs, interview, etc.) - totally readable and relateable

Acing Your First Year of Law School by Noyes & Noyes (intro to subjects, briefing, bluebook, study aids, taking exams) - dryyyyy

Let me just say, and I hope open the door for others of us out there, that I know *nothing* about law, have *never* read the constitution, and am frankly a totally ignorant mofo. So no suggestion will be too basic for me! Suggest away! :)

Relax Folks

Posted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 11:44 pm
by VictoriaMarie
I'm a 1L at the University of Texas, and please, for the sake of your sanity... DON'T START RESDING NOW! Wait until summer or at least late spring to dig into the law school prep books. You'll have all semester to read real law books. Don't rush it. The reading isn't as bad as you think it will be.

On that note...Law School Confidential has been my Bible for the past 3 months. Pick it up.