The 9 Best Books for Law Students to Read This Summer

Want to stay sharp this summer? Here are the books all pre-law students should read before 1L, plus the best books for law students.

portrait of Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
by Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.

Published on May 26, 2022

Edited by Hannah Muniz
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The 9 Best Books for Law Students to Read This Summer
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Are you headed to law school this fall? Whether you're an incoming 1L or a seasoned 3L, your summer reading list should include these law books.

Our list below of the best books for law students contains an array of nonfiction books that will help sharpen your critical thinking skills and set you up for success in your legal career. We've also included some inspirational and humorous books about law. It's summer, after all!

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1. 1L of a Ride: A Well-Traveled Professor's Roadmap to Success in the First Year of Law School

by Andrew McClurg


In terms of books all pre-law students should read, many law schools recommend "1L of a Ride" (2009). Law professor Andrew McClurg lays out everything a new law student needs to know in this comprehensive, easy-to-follow book.

You'll learn how to break down case briefs, stay on top of your workload, and manage the emotional challenges of law school. McClurg draws on the experiences of hundreds of real law students to provide a practical roadmap for 1Ls.

2. One L: The Turbulent True Story of a First Year at Harvard Law School

by Scott Turow


Before Scott Turow made a name for himself writing legal thrillers, he went to Harvard Law. In "One L" (2010), Turow relates a gripping account of his first year in law school, including the highs and lows of the 1L experience.

The New York Times insists this book "should be read by anyone who has ever contemplated going to law school."

3. America's Constitution: A Biography

by Akhil Reed Amar


Whatever legal specialty you choose, all law students take constitutional law. Yale law professor Akhil Reed Amar digs into the Constitution to show its lofty aspirations along with its roots in 18th-century politics.

"America's Constitution" (2006) goes beyond the words of the country's framing document to explain why its creators made decisions that would shape the nation. It's one of the best law books for students at any stage of their legal education

4. The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court

by Jeffrey Toobin


Law students spend a lot of time reading Supreme Court briefs. But what goes on behind the scenes at America's highest court? Journalist Jeffrey Toobin promises to take readers inside the secret history of the Supreme Court.

Toobin builds a riveting tale based on exclusive interviews with the justices. "The Nine" (2008) looks at the early years of the Roberts-led court, revealing the dynamic between the justices shaping our legal system.

5. Law School Confidential: A Complete Guide to the Law School Experience

by Robert H. Miller


LDrawn from first-hand accounts of law school graduates, "Law School Confidential" (2000) offers useful advice on every step of the law school process. Student readers will learn not only how to survive law school but also how to get the most out of their legal education.

Covering topics like selecting classes, strategies for acing exams, and landing a clerkship, this in-depth book provides a realistic and practical look at law school.

6. 24 Hours with 24 Lawyers: Profiles of Traditional and Non-Traditional Careers

by Jasper Kim


Trying to decide between corporate law and criminal defense? "24 Hours with 24 Lawyers" (2011) provides a behind-the-scenes look at life in two dozen post-law-school career paths.

Each chapter provides a day in the life of a law school grad. The book covers more traditional careers like IP attorney and prosecutor as well as nontraditional options like venture capitalist and politician.

Whether you are still deciding whether to apply to law school or are launching your legal career, the book will help you find the right path.

7. Stories from Trailblazing Women Lawyers: Lives in the Law

by Jill Norgren


Law school and the legal field transformed in the second half of the 20th century when a diverse group of women entered the legal profession. This inspiring 2018 book draws on interviews to explore the lives of over 100 women who broke the legal glass ceiling.

The stories include Ruth Bader Ginsburg's rise to the Supreme Court and less well-known accounts like the experience of Lila Fenwick, the first Black woman to graduate from Harvard Law.

8. The Trial

by Franz Kafka


A fictional account of a man's encounter with the legal system, "The Trial" (1925) is one of the best books for law students. In this masterpiece by famed 20th-century author Franz Kafka, the main character finds himself under arrest and forced to defend himself against a charge that authorities refuse to disclose.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said of the book, "It's very important that lawyers read it and understand this."

9. The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance and Other Real Laws That Human Beings Actually Dreamed Up

by Kevin Underhill


In 1969, Washington state passed a law declaring Sasquatch an endangered creature and banned killing Bigfoot. In this hilariously compelling read published in 2014, litigator Kevin Underhill collects the strangest, most outlandish laws passed over 5,000 years of legal history.

From the first law code — which mentions beer — to the ancient Athenian rule that lawyers had 10 gallons on the water-clock to make their case, this book explores the humorous and lighter side of law, making it a must-read for law students.

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