Starting Law School? Read this week to help you get an edge!

So you are starting law school this month?  Congratulations!!  You are about to embark upon a trying and most rewarding several-year journey, a step in a life path filled with potential and power. When you graduate and pass the bar exam, your license will allow you to speak for people who have no voice, to skillfully navigate waters clouded with rules and regulations and lead the way, to change and improve lives and society.  You will be poised to not only earn a living but also to live an endlessly meaningful life.  Be proud of your choice to study law.

Here are a few of the many books my students have found helpful as they begin the law school process, with some thoughts on why each is particularly useful.  Please write in and tell me if you have other suggestions!

Bridging the Gap Between College and Law School: Strategies for Success by Ruta K. Stropus and Charlotte D. Taylor, 3d ed. 2014 Carolina Academic Press, ISBN 978-1-61163-224-8 

This book is like having your own tour guide to law school. It tells you what to expect and how to make sense of the process, and thrive!  A must have for new law students!!

Reading Like a Lawyer: Time-Saving Strategies for Reading Law Like an Expert, By Ruth Ann McKinney, 2d ed. 2012 Carolina Academic Press,  ISBN 978-1-61163-110-4

Arguably, the most critical skill for success in law school is reading comprehension.  With tweets having largely replaced novels, we are in a time when mastering critical reading skills is more important than ever. Lawyers work with words; they are our power tools. This book’s text and exercises will help you get a firm foothold on reading for law school.

Pass the Bar: A Practical Guide to Achieving Academic & Professional Goals, By Sara J. Berman, ABA Publishing 2013, ISBN: 978-1-62722-238-9

This book may seem like you don’t need it until you are ready to take the bar.  No!  Read it now.  It will help you see the light at the end of the tunnel and set the stage for success from Day #1.  This book demystifies the bar exam and how to pass it the first time around.  Reading it as a 1L will train you lay the critical groundwork to develop the skills and confidence you need to succeed.

Reel Justice: The Courtroom Goes to the Movies, By Michael Asimow and Paul Bergman, ABA Publishing 2013, ISBN-13: 978-0740754609

Watch some movies, before you start law school!  And, read Reel Justice while you watch so you can learn what is “real” and where the entertainment has replaced reality.  Learn what courtrooms and lawyers really do, with fun and clear examples from film.

Represent Yourself in Court: How to Prepare and Try a Winning Case, By Paul Bergman and Sara Berman, 2013, 8th Edition, ISBN 9781413319446

This books helps you get the “big picture” –civil litigation in an easy-to-understand snapshot, explaining the process from pre-trial discovery through appeal.  It will help you put into context all the cases that you are reading all year, to truly understand who has the burden of proving what and why.   A quick and essential read for law students to help you put the world of law into context.  At the same time, this is a down payment for success on the performance test portion of the bar exam.

The Criminal Law Handbook: Know Your Rights, Survive the System, By Paul Bergman and Sara Berman, 2013, 8th Edition, ISBN 9781413319484

Read this alone to understand criminal law and criminal procedure in plain English, and/or as a companion to Represent Yourself, to understand the civil and criminal justice systems.  This book gives you a clear picture of criminal law and procedure, an overview of the process from arrest to appeal.



Author: Sara J. Berman

Sara J. Berman, a graduate of the UCLA School of Law, is a Professor of Law and Assistant Dean at the Touro Law Center. She formerly served as a Director at the Washington DC-based Center for Legal Education Excellence.

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