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June 27, 2014

Pre-law student reading list

by Dan Rodriguez

The best preparation for the demanding work of a first-year law school is surely rest and recuperation. Enjoy time with friends and families and take the time you need to wind down from work responsibilities as you make the transition to the exciting, focused journey of the beginning law student.

Still and all, pre-law students — OLs, as the new term describes them — ask about valuable readings to help better prepare them for their law school work. Everyone has their favorites, so let me suggest some of mine.

Some classics:
“A Man for All Seasons”
Robert Bolt’s magnificent play about Thomas More and the ethical dimensions of lawyering, faith, and client service in the shadow of the struggles of merry old England under the regime of Henry VIII.

“The Bramble Bush”
A short, remarkable book by one of the great legal scholars of the 20th century, Karl Llewellyn. Rewarding and insightful, even several decades after its publication.

“Law School Without Fear: Strategies for Success”
A helpful book, written by two of our beloved Northwestern professors, Helene and Marshall Shapo.

“A Civil Action”
Page-turner on modern impact litigation by Jonathan Harr.

On law, lawyers, and the system:
“Six Amendments: How and Why we Should Change the Constitution”
From our esteemed alumnus, Justice John Paul Stevens, a thought-provoking short book on of the key legal controversies of our times

“Tomorrow’s Lawyers”
Intriguing book (also refreshingly short) by futurist Richard Susskind. Frames well the challenges to young (and not-so-young) lawyers in the coming decades. Not for the timid, but a very interesting perspective.

Our brave new world (books which explore the key dimensions of our complex technological age, and how future professionals ought to cope and even thrive in this distinctly different era we are in):

“Accelerating Democracy”
Wonderfully insightful book from NU Law prof. John McGinnis. Big data meets democracy.

“The Second Machine Age”
Food for careful thought by two innovative MIT professors, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee.

“Steve Jobs”
Comprehensive biography of this remarkable figure by Walter Isaacson. Baffling genius; extraordinary story of Apple and its intersection with modern economic trends

On a lighter note:
Anything by David Sedaris. Hilarious.

“You Were Never in Chicago” by Neil Steinberg. Especially for the newcomers to our City of Big Shoulders!

And don’t forget to catch up on your binge-TV watching. We like House of Cards; Homeland; Veep; Downton Abbey, Newsroom, and Boardwalk Empire.

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