How to Succeed in Law School, by Gary A. Munneke

Book review by Erin Lindsay Calkins. Published July 2008, last updated March 2011.

How to Succeed in Law School

How to Succeed in Law School left me perplexed. I never disagreed with what he said, nor, however, did I find anything of real worth. This puzzled me until I realized that How to Succeed was not really a book of advice on how to succeed during the first year of law school. Rather, it was a description of what law school was like – including, but not limited to, descriptions of the smart people who go to law school; descriptions of the “technology” that may be used during law school courses and exams, such as computers (keep in mind that the latest edition was published in 2008); and notes on aspects such as “relaxation and breaks” and “competition” that you are likely to encounter during your first year in law school. 

Everything that Munneke discusses here, I suppose, is true. The trouble is, it’s also perfectly obvious. For instance, on p. 15, Munneke writes, “During the first week of classes, you will learn the ground rules.” Further down in the page, “You will also begin to get acquainted with your fellow law students. You may meet a few individuals whom you come to know as real people.” Perhaps part of my confusion on initial reading was with respect to why Munneke would write this down at all.

This is not to say that superficial observations are not valuable. Indeed, the foundation for useful strategy is based on accurate observation. Munneke offers few worthwhile suggestions based on these assessments, however. For instance, “Find out what you need to do to benefit personally from your school’s educational program,” (p. 11), and “Beware of the snakes in the grass, and pick your friends carefully” (p. 27). Munneke’s advice for examination taking does not offer deeper insight: have good grammar and style (p. 107) and be sure to write legibly (p. 108).

The style of Munneke’s guide seems more aptly suited to an audience of freshman…in high school. To have graduated from college, taken the LSAT, and been accepted to law school, you must already be capable adults, quite familiar with academia. In his verbose, clumsily-written manual, Munneke fails to grasp his audience.

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