ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Five Books to Read Before Starting Law School

Updated on August 14, 2013

So you're starting law school?

There are many great books that you might want to read before starting law school. Law school is filled with books -- casebooks, statute books, study guides, commercial outlines, and more. Occasionally, a professor may even assign a novel. If you are planning to attend law school, hopefully you are someone who enjoys reading!

Before you begin law school, you will probably have questions about the classes, the exam, and the legal profession as a whole. Luckily, there are many people out there in the business of writing books about law school. While experience is the only thing that will make you truly comfortable as a new 1L (first-year law student), these five books are great introductions to law school, law exams, and the highest court in the nation. They are the top five must-read books before your first year of law school.

Image © photogl - Purchased at

Law School Confidential

Law School Confidential: A Complete Guide to the Law School Experience: By Students, for Students
Law School Confidential: A Complete Guide to the Law School Experience: By Students, for Students

Unlike most books, Law School Confidential does its best to cover the entire process, from admissions to briefing cases to exams. It even handles some post-graduation concerns, such as landing a judicial clerkship or passing the bar exam. The book is useful to new law students because it uses a panel of recent grads to discuss the important issues. This edition is updated, which is important as the legal field grows and changes.

That said, you don't have to take the advice as gospel. Use the techniques that suit your style. After all, most of us don't really use five different highligher colors, and we managed to survive our first year of law school!


Planet Law School

Planet Law School II: What You Need to Know (Before You Go), But Didn't Know to Ask... and No One Else Will Tell You, Second Edition
Planet Law School II: What You Need to Know (Before You Go), But Didn't Know to Ask... and No One Else Will Tell You, Second Edition

There is a cynical side to law school, as many students learn. Law school is a business (one that may be changing in the future as too many graduates enter the market). Like Law School Confidential, Planet Law School II is a recently updated work that covers everything you could want to know about applying to law school, surviving your time there, and getting the most out of your education.

(PSSST: Bonus buying tip! Amazon frequently has deals for buying Planet Law School, Law School Confidential, and Getting to Maybe. Take a look and see if you can get a good price on all three!)


Book Buying Tip: Study Guides and Commercial Outlines

Many law school resources will suggest buying study guides or commercial outlines to supplement your reading. However, you should wait until you start school to buy these books. Talk to 2Ls and 3Ls who had your professors and ask which guides are the best. Your professor may even have a recommendation.

Plus, you might be able to use interlibrary loan to borrow study guides before committing to buying them! Save your money and borrow or buy used, if possible.

Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams

Getting To Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams
Getting To Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams

The toughest part of the adjustment to law school for many students is the exams. In most classes, they will make up your entire grade (although professors often have some flexibility to bump your score up and down for things like participation). You will have three or four hours to write down as much as you possible can. Getting to Maybe is a great book to begin familiarizing yourself with law school exams.


The Zen of Passing the Bar Exam

The Zen of Passing the Bar Exam
The Zen of Passing the Bar Exam

What?! Think about the bar now? That's three years away! I know what you might be thinking, but it is never too early to think about the bar exam. Plus, the main purpose of this book is how to pass the essay sections of the exam. You will be taking many essay exams during the course of law school. The Zen of Passing the Bar Exam is short and to the point. It is filled with practical tips for writing essays appropriate for a legal exam.

I wish I had read it before my last semester of law school. It is an under-acknowledged book that you may find very helpful. After all, you have many exams to take between now and becoming a lawyer, you might as well get some help sooner rather than later!

Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States

Why I Attended Law School

When I was 12 years old, I visited Washington D.C. for the first time. We had the opportunity to take tours of the capital, the White House, the Smithsonian... all the big stops. But I was a 12 year-old with big dreams, and there was a moment inside the Supreme Court that took my breath away. At that point, I had no idea what a lawyer did (except what I saw in movies and television shows). Part of me still holds the dream of being a Supreme Court Justice one day.

So, my final book recommendation isn't about surviving law school. But, I think that people who want to enter the legal profession should understand the big picture. Before your first year of law school, take the time to learn something interesting about the judicial branch of government.

Everyone has a passion or dream that drives them to go to law school. The tuition is too massive of an investment if you aren't committed. During your time at law school, find ways to hold onto your passion and remind yourself of the big dreams that sent you there. Those dreams may never be realistic (after all, there are only nine Supreme Court Justices), but they are important and will help you find your way as you approach graduation.

The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court

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

Many people who start law school have no idea how the judicial branch works. They may know that there are trial courts, appellate courts, and Supreme Courts, but the behind-the-scenes knowledge isn't talked about often. The Nine takes you into the workings of the United States Supreme Court. It follows the Court over the decades as the membership changes, and so too does the voting. Personal anecdotes make the justices more real.

History and tradition govern many courts. While you may never work for a Supreme Court justice, or even argue a case in front of SCOTUS, this book is an interesting read that may inspire new students. At the very least, take the time to learn the names of the current justices. Can you name all nine?


Books to Read Before Law School

Which book are you thinking about reading?

See results

Unsure what materials you will need when you start law school? Check out this list of law school supplies for a great start.

Click here now!

Do you have a favorite book that you would recommend to an incoming law student? Or just a question or comment about one of these? Leave your opinion here and join the conversation!

What books would you recommend to new law students?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I just graduated law school two years ago. My opinion is that law school is stressful enough. Reading something in advance to prepr is unnecessary and adds stress even before you start. Enjoy your time now, the next three years will be a void.

    • Roxanne Castillo profile image

      Roxanne Castillo 

      6 years ago

      Thank you! I'm going to have to read all of these :)

    • Phillyfreeze profile image

      Ronald Tucker 

      6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Freedom, The Individual And The Law by Geoffrey Robertson would be an excellent book for new law students.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Always enjoy reading and finding new books, these would be good even for those not going to law school but want the knowledge.

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image


      7 years ago

      I'll bet my daughter would agree with these. She graduated several years ago and is now working in San Diego, but she holds onto all of her law school books. You did a great job of putting together this lens. Your online writing career is off to a great start. Hopefully your law career will also soar!

    • emmaklarkins profile image


      7 years ago

      Great list! I love your personal recommendations!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)