Summer Reading Recommendations

julia belianJulia Belian
Associate Professor of Law 

Your Brain and Law School by Marybeth Herald. 

There are many books (some of them good) regarding various skills necessary to success in law school and beyond – books that teach things like how to brief a case, or how to create a course outline.  This book supplements those kinds of books.  In the first part, it lays out what the latest research in neurology teaches us about how our brains learn any new skill set.  The second part details how our brains solve problems, with particular emphasis on the kinds of errors humans are prone to make in their reasoning about legal issues.  Together, these parts help students understand the process of 1L education, understand why it feels (and is) so different from other kinds of education, and how to spot (and correct) the kinds of errors that they, and all of us, are most likely to make as we navigate this learning process.  In short, it will help 1Ls understand what “normal” feels like when you are a 1L and also helps them know when their reasoning process might need correcting.  It’s the only book I know of that addresses these topics.

Reading Like a Lawyer:  Time-Saving Strategies for Reading Law Like and Expert by Ruth Ann McKinney.

Students who excel in law school have one thing in common:  They are highly skilled readers.  This is a well-known fact, but few books are available to help students learn how to become highly skilled readers.  This book (despite its subtitle) is not about speed-reading; rather, it is about effective reading, reading that wastes no time on peripheral matters but understands how to cut through to the heart of legal materials, and thereby to gain mastery of those materials in the shortest amount of time possible (which is, admittedly, never really a “short amount of time” even in the best of situations).  All 1Ls experience a feeling of being overwhelmed by a complex text, and few law school classes devote much time to teaching the strategies for coping with that.  This book explains the critical skills that experienced, expert legal readers use to manage that complexity.

Broughton, J. Richard J. Richard Broughton
Associate Professor of Law

Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts by Antonin Scalia and Bryan Garner. 

Because it’s a major part of what we do.  Whether you agree or disagree with the analyses and methodologies that Scalia and Garner employ, their insights will prove invaluable in learning how to grapple with the language of the law.

Karen HenHenning, Karen McDonaldning
Assistant Professor of Law

The Nine by Toobin -- a fascinating glimpse of 10 years at the Supreme Court when the Justices remained the same. The book gives the "inside scoop" on many of the major constitutional cases from 1995 until 2005 and is a page turner.

Arc of Justice by Boyle -- a gripping story set in Detroit in the 1920s involving an African-American family who bought a house and subjected to mob violence. The book provides an insiders' look at the Detroit social, political and legal scheme.

An Innocent Man by Grisham -- a true story about the conviction of an innocent
man in Oklahoma. Even though you know that the individual is innocent, Grisham
keeps you glued to the book.

The New Yorker and Atlantic magazines. Both cover many current legal issues.

Professor of Law
Karl Llewellyn's The Bramble Bush: On Our Law and Its Study, the classic introduction to your life in law.   
The Bramble Bush is a sublime primer on the study of law and the vital role of lawyers in our courts and society.  I recommend this book for its insights on the lawyer's craft and how the rigor of law school empowers a person to be the change they want to see in the world.  While much has changed in law schools since this book was first published in 1930, its lessons are still true today.

paruchDeborah Paruch
Associate Professor of Law

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

Supplementary Reading Materials:

Questions to Consider

Opinion in the Federal District Habeas Corpus Case William v. Reynolds

Opinion in the libel action filed by the prosecutor in the case against Grisham and Dennis Fritz (the other man accused of the murder)


Nancy M. Omichinski
Director of Academic Support

Law 101: Everything You Need to Know About the American Legal System by Jay M. Feinman.

This book provides a nice overview of many of the basic subjects studied in law school. It is written for non-lawyers and is very easy to read and comprehend. Law school applicants should find this book interesting and helpful, because it will give them a start in thinking about the subjects in which they will immerse themselves beginning in the first semester. Law school applicants also might recommend this book to their non- lawyer family members and friends who wish to learn something about the subjects that law students typically study.