You shouldn’t read ahead in preparation for law school, but if you would like to do some preparatory reading, our professors have suggested the following (some are more fun than others!):
Herbert N. Ramy, Succeeding in Law School (2d ed.)
An introduction to law school, with tips on successful study practices and exam preparation.
Ruta K. Stropus and Charlotte D. Taylor, Bridging the Gap (3d ed.)
Another introduction to law school that looks at the transition from lay person to legal scholar.
Anthony Lewis, Gideon’s Trumpet and Make No Law
These analyses of Gideon v. Wainwright and New York Times v. Sullivan provide insight into the workings of the Supreme Court.
Catherine Drinker Bowen, The Lion and the Throne (the life and times of Sir Edward Coke)
An excellent history of one of the great common lawyers in history.
Stephen Breyer, Active Liberty
A look into the complex task of judicial decision making.
Bryan Garner, The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style
A legal writing resource with exercises in each chapter to assist students in understanding crucial writing concepts. (Professor’s note: Pay close attention to the chapters that address (1) omitting surplus words, (2) using base verbs, (3) using short sentences, and (4) punctuating carefully!)
Richard Wydick, Plain English for Lawyers
A legal writing resource with clear, thoughtful chapters on punctuation, grammar, and avoiding stuffy words and legalese.
Steve J. Burton, Introduction to Law and Legal Reasoning
Recommended by multiple professors as a first step to open your mind to a new way of thinking.
John A. Humbach, Whose Monet: An Introduction to the American Legal System
The story of a stolen piece of art, which presents intriguing notions about contemporary legal issues and the role of attorneys in litigation.
Michael G. Trachtman, The Supremes’ Greatest Hits (2nd ed.)
A chronicle of 44 of the most pivotal US Supreme Court cases, including their effects on modern US culture.
Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird
An American classic, showing the role a lawyer can play in protecting basic human rights in a racist society. Worth a re-read over the summer.
Richard Michael Fischl and Jeremy Paul, Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams
A careful look at the difference between the study of law and traditional education systems in the US.
Nancy Levit & Douglas O. Linder, The Happy Lawyer: Making a Good Life in the Law
An examination of the causes of dissatisfaction among lawyers, and then charts possible paths to happier and more fulfilling careers in law.
Barry Friedman, Open Book: Succeeding on Exams from the First Day of Law School
An insider’s view of what professors look for in exam answers, and how exam-taking connects to good lawyering.
Jeffrey Toobin, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court
Taking you into the chambers of the most important—and secret—legal body in our country, the Supreme Court, this book reveals the complex dynamic among the nine people who decide the law of the land.
David Ngaruri Kenney and Philip G. Schrag, Asylum Denied: A Refugee’s Struggle for Safety in America
The harrowing story of political refugee David Ngaruri Kenney’s harrowing odyssey through the world of immigration processing in the United States.
Robert L. Tsai, America’s Forgotten Constitutions: Defiant Visions of Power and Community
This gripping history of alternative constitutions invites readers into the circle of those who have rejected this ringing assertion–the defiant groups that refused to accept the Constitution’s definition of who “the people” are and how their authority should be exercised.
Margaret Jane Radin, Boilerplate: The Fine Print, Vanishing Rights, and the Rule of Law
On a daily basis, most of us accept boilerplate provisions without realizing that should a dispute arise about a purchased good or service, the nonnegotiable boilerplate terms can deprive us of our right to jury trial and relieve providers of responsibility for harm.
Ward Farnsworth, The Legal Analyst: A Toolkit for Thinking about the Law
An indispensable user’s manual for law students, experienced practitioners seeking a one-stop guide to legal principles, or anyone else with an interest in the law.
Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness
By knowing how people think, we can use sensible “choice architecture” to nudge people toward the best decisions for ourselves, our families, and our society, without restricting our freedom of choice.
Films, both in documentary and theatrical form, can be a great way to get your mind ready for the new subject matter you will be tackling in law school. Here are a few recommendations from our faculty and staff.
Gideon’s Trumpet (1980)
A Civil Action (1998)
Class Action (1991)
A Man for All Seasons (1966)
To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)
North Country (2005)
My Cousin Vinny (1992) A favorite of a few of our deans!
Mitchell Hamline’s Warren E. Burger Library has also compiled a list of books for law school success and classroom survival.