June 24, 2008
A Very Short Reading List for Incoming 1Ls
There are two classics every incoming 1L should read before starting law school but my sense is that many turn them away because they are not written in a style that resonates with our younger students. I'm referring, of course, to Karl N Llewellyn's The Bramble Bush, recently republished by Oxford UP, and Edward H. Levi's An Introduction to Legal Reasoning.
In addition to those two works, I always recommend Helene Shapo and Marshall Shapo's Law School Without Fear: Strategies for Success (Foundation Press, 2002). Helene Shapo and Marshall Shapo are law professors who compiled this book of practical advice for their son, a law student. The book discusses in simple terms what law students need to know about law school and how to get the most out the law school experience. The text also discusses the problems law students encounter most frequently and solutions to those problems. Topics covered include briefing a case, precedent and how to use it, balancing competing interests and factors, legal writing, and psychological tips for the study of law.
For the "what should I read" question asked by incoming 1Ls (or admissions directors wanting to send students a reading list during the summer), we librarians can easily compile an extensive bibliography but I lean toward providing a very short guided reading list instead. The above three titles plus Carolyn J. Nygren's Starting Off Right in Law School (Carolina Academic Press, 1997) which melds information about the legal system usually found in legal methods books with information about study skills usually found in books with a "how to succeed in law school" focus is in my opinion sufficient.
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