Monday, July 6, 2015

Alternative Summer Reading for Pre-Law Students

Over at The Washington Post, Professor Michael Krauss of George Mason has published a summer reading list for people who are enrolling in law school in the fall.
I suggest that newly minted law students spend the summer before their classes begin with the following nine works (roughly one a week) as preparation for entering what remains the noblest of professions. 
A "newly minted law student?"  Has there ever been a more unintentionally apt use of a tired adjectival phrase?  Something tells me we're in for trouble.

Of the twelve authors responsible for Krass's nine suggestions, only six have or had any serious legal training.  Those six can be broken down as follows:  an academic (Llewelyn), a founding father who had no intention to practice (Madison), a founding father who practiced/judged 200 years ago (Jay), a special snowflake whose career has a 0.001% chance of being similar to yours (Schiltz), and two special interest lawyers who wrote a fairly narrow-subject book (Goldstein/Meyer).

Only one of his recommendations has been written in the last decade.  Yet Krauss writes that "[c]ollectively they constitute an overview of the values and challenges of the legal profession," but he means not the legal profession as it exists, but the fantastical legal profession academics think about while touching themselves Socratically.

Not that you should be going to law school, but if you are, you might want to actually read more relevant items to your field.

Let's make an alternative list.  My own substitutions are below, but contributions in the comments are very much welcome.
Krauss Pick:  1.  Truman Capote, "In Cold Blood"
Read Instead:  1.  Robert Traver, "Anatomy of a Murder"
Capote's landmark work takes a fish-out-of-water setup and pulls the humanity out of the most inhumane acts.  It's a masterpiece of American literature.  You should have read it in college, and it has relatively little to do with the legal system.  Traver, meanwhile, is the pen name of John Voelker, a real lawyer/judge who tried actual cases.  He managed to write an equally-compelling fictional story with more realistic (albeit sensational) courtroom drama.
Krauss Pick:  2. Goldstein and Meyer, "Lawfare..."
Read Instead: 2. Anthony Lewis, "Gideon's Trumpet" or "Make No Law"
I'm not opposed to exploring free speech and Islamism - certainly they're important topics - but Anthony Lewis was a writer's writer who devoted much of his professional life to covering the law; he actually went to Harvard Law for a short time to become a better journalist.  "Gideon's Trumpet" and "Make No Law" are close-to-the-source historical chronicles of the right to counsel and First Amendment, respectively, that can provide insight into the minds of lawyers and judges while broadly examining ideas of liberty and justice.
Krauss Pick: 3.  Harper Lee, "To Kill a Mockingbird"
Read Instead: 3. Franz Kafka, "The Trial"
"Mockingbird" is a classic, but you've probably read it before, and it's no more relevant to your future legal career than "12 Angry Men" is to picking a jury.  They're both realist presentations written through idealist, dramatic glasses. Kafka's unfinished work is neither American nor realist, but was written by the continental European equivalent of a JD advantage worker who had, shall we say, a lack of faith in social justice.  Bonus points for anyone who quotes "It’s only because of their stupidity that they’re able to be so sure of themselves" at an appropriate time in a 1L class.
Krauss Pick:  4.  Karl Llewelyn, "The Bramble Bush"
Read Instead:  4.  Brian Tamanaha, "Failing Law Schools",  Paul Campos, "Don't Go to Law School (Unless)", or Charles Cooper/Thane Messinger, "Con Law..."
"The Bramble Bush" is what a legal academic thought was important for law students to hear in 1929.  Instead, read Tamanaha, Campos, and/or Cooper/Messinger, whose work actually deals with current reality.  Because if you've decided to go to law school, you either need to quickly rethink it (if "The Trial" didn't work to make you question law) and get a job bartending or - if you still think it's right for you - go in with your head up, instead of up your own ass.
Krauss Pick:  5. Herman Melville, "Billy Budd"
Read Instead: 5. John Grisham, "The Firm"
Both fiction.  One is engaging and was written by a sill-living lawyer with a decade of practice experience.  The other is dull and was written by a long-dead non-lawyer in the 19th century about maritime/military law.  We're not making an English syllabus, here.
Krauss Pick:  6.  "The Federalist Papers"
Read Instead:  6.  Antonin Scalia, "A Matter of Interpretation" and/or "Stephen Breyer, "Active Liberty"
It's apostasy to a certain pompous sect of America, but you don't need to read The Federalist Papers.  Much like British case law, there are excerpts of The Federalist Papers that have influenced modern American law and policy, but they're few and far between, and can be absorbed via excerpt or footnote.  If you absolutely must get into constitutional-ly thoughts, read through Scalia or Breyer's often-cited works, both of which are fairly short (<200 pages) and accessible.  Both men are still alive and actively affecting our nation's legal landscape.  Regardless of your political beliefs, you'll gain a leg up in constitutional law (as well as any class where they will be heavily read, like Crim Pro) and gain applicable insight into our current driving forces instead of the ones plaguing the nascent America 200+ years ago.
Krauss Pick:  7. Patrick Schiltz, "On Being a Happy..."
Read Instead:  7.  Steven Harper, "The Lawyer Bubble"
Now-Judge Schiltz's piece is good, but it's got two strikes against it.  First, it's sixteen years out of date; his discussion of student debt loads is comical at this point.  Second, it's a law review article.  Kids, you don't need to read law review articles.  Ever.  Harper's book has a slightly different angle, but it's current and speaks with 30 years of insight about the legal landscape, and is frankly more relevant to the legal sector as a whole.
Krauss Pick:  8.  B.F. Skinner, "Walden Two"
Read Instead:  8.  Charles Dickens, "Bleak House"
I find Krauss's selection here particularly bizarre.  "Walden Two" is a behavioral scientist's view of a speculative utopia based on outmoded mid-century science.  Krauss explains that Walden Two is "a scary description of the premises of social-legal planning."  Well...there's better books for that.  Directly on point would be "We" and "Brave New World."  Then we've got "1984", Vonnegut's "Player Piano", and, shit, even Plato's "Republic."  But in terms of outdated fiction, almost nothing can beat Charles Dickens' "Bleak House" for modern legal insight.  You don't need to read the whole thing, but his indictment of the probate process/court of chancery in England is a much better eye-opener about the pitfalls of human-constructed legal systems than some archaic utopian vision.
Krauss Pick:  9.  Barry Werth, "Damages"
Read Instead:  9.  Secondary articles about David Ball and Donald Keenan, "Reptile"
"Damages" is a solid, well-known work in examining tort law and insurance.  But it's a case study by a journalist that's now seventeen years old.  In terms of  understanding the relevant now to tort litigation, read commentary (law firm articles, bar magazine pieces) on Ball and Keenan's book "Reptile: the 2009 Manual of the Plaintiff's Revolution."  The original is dense, written for practitioners, and limited in availability.  But no recent book has more affected how lawyers on both sides think in tort litigation. "Reptile" presents cognitive science arguments about how jurors think and how plaintiffs' attorneys can exploit that science to generate higher damages awards.  Unless you take the right higher-level torts class with an adjunct, they won't teach this stuff in law school, but this stuff's been in vogue or the last few years (and it likely won't die out, much as evolve or become more subtle).  Even for non-lawyers, the secondary material is accessible evidence of the extreme lengths lawyers will go to gain a slight edge and fight for a few dollars more.

Of course, there are probably better things you could do in your summer before law school than read a bunch of crap.  For example, you could rethink your decision to enroll in law school.  You could take up a new drug habit; you can do literally anything as a recovering crack addict, and the "recovering crack addict advantage" is real, people.

And if you're headed to law school, you could, for example, study Strunk & White and take a harsh pen to everything you've ever written.  You could get plastic surgery and improve your odds at OCI.  You could socially network all summer in rich neighborhoods to build up the connections that actually land jobs.

In fact, if you're an introverted reader type, you should read every possible bit of available damn research and ask yourself what you're doing.  Law school may be for readers, but law practice is not.

In any event, I feel the above alternative list does a better job actually approaching "the values and challenges of the legal profession," assuming, of course, you actually want to learn such things instead of the fantasy version portrayed by legal elites who insist lawyering is still the "noblest of professions."

36 comments:

  1. "Of course, there are probably better things you could do in your summer before law school than read a bunch of crap. For example, you could rethink your decision to enroll in law school."

    This is the absolute best thing you can do for yourself and your financial future. The worst case scenario is that you are out a few hundred bucks in LSAT prep materials and your $eaTTT depo$iTTT.

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  2. The best decision you can make in the summer before law school is to not enroll before you ruin your life (or as the very least, three years of it). Don't go. If you are a 0L and reading this, do not go. They are lying to you about career outcomes. You are better off learning a trade.

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    1. This ^^^^^.

      It's taken the mainstream roughly 20 years to come to where my thinking was about 20 years ago. At that time, people couldn't see where the "profession" - and I use the term loosely because it's a true cesspool now and was then as well - was headed. You could conceal, somewhat, bad outcomes because the debt loads of the graduates weren't as bad then although they were still 5 figures, the economy was still producing, somewhat, middle-class jobs because things like NAFTA hadn't yet taken their toll and the flood of outsourcing and job relocation was just beginning, and the level of technology still required a lot of bodies to do a job (doc review) vs. working off the Internet. Law was then in it's Imperial stage, still expanding off bubbles of mergers and real-estate speculation and other Wall Street creations.

      You could, if you saw the writing on the wall after graduation, go into teaching, particularly in the South were Masters degrees were at that time not required. Some people from my class did that. Others spammed the Fed. government and got in. Not a snowball's chance in Hell today with cutbacks but more do-able then because the private sector was a viable competitor vs. a public sector job.

      Beyond HYS, there's nothing to consider right now in the vein of going to law school. "SHY" is all you need to know. And they are ranked, I believe, in that order. Even at that, there's a huge difference between the connected and unconnected at these schools. The connected people in life never lift a finger for anything. If you remember one thing, remember that. They also view strivers with disdain. In other words, you're born into it, or you're nothing.. You're actually competition for these people and their friends getting jobs. They look out for one another. If it wasn't law, they could choose literally anything else and come up roses. It doesn't matter.. They have the financial backing and connections to where they don't have to ever worry no matter what they do or often fail to do. Hard work is truly for Proles.

      The 2 most successful people from my time had shit grades but have been in Biglaw for decades now based on obviously steel family connections. On the other end, I found someone the other day who is now schleping financial services after working for the Fed. Gov't and then in-house, where they obviously got canned in the usual head-culling they do from time to time as firms cycle between using outside counsel and in-house staff. Do you want to be pushing 50 working as a solo with 6-figure debt or trying to sell insurance in a metro area? Some of my class are doing just that. A lot never made it past the small firm scenario to begin with.

      I'd estimate about 70% of my class isn't even in law anymore. The people in small firms or solo can only live because their husbands provide a second income. Got it guys? No Safety Net for you.. The moderately successful ones are all at some level of working for the government. And these jobs won't exist when they go because government at all levels is broke. There is no junior position, like when they applied, to begin at, no ladder. They are clinging to their jobs for dear life because there's nothing else that would otherwise work for them and no one wants middle-aged attorneys without books of business which government jobs don't provide.

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    2. Google a series of firms in your area. You'll see they all have the same structure. Many Partners and few Associates. What this means is that the Partners are desperately trying to maintain their income and lifestyle. I will bet if I saw the books of these firms that they are in debt and leveraged. It doesn't matter to the Partners whether the firm continues to exist after they are gone. They have their lifestyle to maintain. And all of these Partners are older. A lot of Boomers. As one poster said, it is their way: Boom and Bust. The game they are playing is pimping Associates, burning them to not pay salary increases, probably games with the books and debt to draw money out for their own lifestyles and retirements. If you check a firm and check it 6 months later or a year, you'll see different Associate faces..

      This is the reality out there for the unconnected, non-SHY people in law. It's not what 0L's think.. for sure.

      Learn a trade. Skip college. Go to work after HS. At 21, you'll be a journeyman with 3 years of experience under your belt. You'll have no debt. You'll have a needed skill. You'll be able to get work and make money. Forget the bullshit of "hard work" and dreams of making it big in law or some other white-collar field. Those people, nearly universally, came to the table with multiple edges and connections and a lot of money behind them and backing. It's the complete opposite of a meritocracy out there, despite the propaganda. In the real world of TTT law, it's sink or swim and most are sinking today.

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    3. Lemmings need to realize that their lifetime of non-dischargeable student loan debt directly pays for the profe$$or lifestyle. I recently spent some time with a profe$$or who has tenure at a top ten law school.

      This professor teaches (I think) 2 classes during the school year for which he has very little to do to prepare. Case law doesn't change that much from year to year and once you know the law, new developments can be easily inegrated into the lesson plan. So mybe he spends 10-12 hours a week actually teaching, maintaining office hours, and keeping up to date. He has to grade papers twice a year, but other than that, he is off the hook.

      He gets paid almost $300,000 a year!. He has entirely stopped writing law review papers. In the last 6 months he has taken his trawler up and down the east coast, has gone on several other outside vacations, has sent his kids to many expensive summer camps (fancy east coast camps), etc.

      This is a lifestyle 95% of Lemmings will never come close to achieving. Although I don't believe it is as bad as the above posters state, law is still a terrible field for most people to enter. Everyone I know in government is clinging on for dear life. I am constantly bombarded by desperate attorneys with requests to send legal work their way. I know many, many people with JDs who are not working as attorneys and could have saved $100,000+ in tuition and 3 years of lost time.

      Lemmings, repeat after me: DO.NOT.GO.TO.LAW.SCHOOL.

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    4. 7:16 this is OP, I just wish I had your advice before I went to college and law school. If I could go back to when I was 17/18 years young I would have became a plumber or some trade without math involved and would at least have a house and money in the bank. Our society is experiencing a paradox of being anti-intellectual, disparaging manual labor, and encouraging people to go to law school without any jobs for them. It really sucks. If I ever have a child there is no way in hell they are borrowing money to go to school. I had no debt with two college degrees and I messed up and went to law school. At least my debt is all qualifying for IBR/PAYE and I won't default. I feel horrible for the people whose credit has been destroyed and cannot get rid of the student loan debt. The anger and rage of oppressed common people is just under the surface and I would not be shocked to see the federal government collapse when the debt for medicare bills start to roll in over the next twenty years. Our whole society is a giant Ponzi scheme and it's ready to fall hard.

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    5. Thanks 1:57 PM (OP).

      I take note of your last sentence. You wrote:

      "The anger and rage of oppressed common people is just under the surface and I would not be shocked to see the federal government collapse when the debt for medicare bills start to roll in over the next twenty years. Our whole society is a giant Ponzi scheme and it's ready to fall hard."

      Friend, it took me until just recently in the last few years to learn that lesson. Everything in the society is a giant Ponzi / Pyramid scheme. You have to let go of the beliefs that working hard and merit matter. To come to the realization that the entire larger System is a scam is impossible without doing so and it's tough because we've been trained to personalize failure or, more accurately, a lack of success or progress. You have done the letting go.

      I did some further research. The person I wrote about had a career which lasted less than a decade in law. They got bounced from in-house because the company got acquired and that's when the head-cutting took place. It appears that for about 10 years now, that person has been schleping in financial services. They never were able to get back on the Law Boat. That is just one example of how, when people fall down in law, they also tend to fall out.

      You don't see doctors unable to practice for a lifetime. In short.. TTT law is a joke. You are never secure outside of locked in gov't jobs and that's about it. Combined with present debt loads, it's a losing proposition for probably 95% of people today. The connected 1% never worry.. But they had the Game won and beaten before they even started. The rest are or can be, simply, grist for the mill and unfortunate Debt Serfs. The only way to protect oneself is DON'T GO. Law is not for you. It's for those who live in the right 1% class. And if you have to think about it at all, you're not in that class.. Don't go.

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    6. This whole thread is very saddening. Damn sobering. " Law is not for you. It's for those who live in the right 1% class. And if you have to think about it at all, you're not in that class.. Don't go."

      What's that phrase?

      If you have to ask - you can't afford it.

      Those who aren't in that correct class, but nonetheless make it, are subject of legend. But that's the problem. Everyone "works hard".

      Those who make out well work hard, just like everyone else, but often as not do end up working out well through serendipity.

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    7. Unless you have a book of business, if you lose your job, just forget about getting back on the law train. Your life as a professional lawyer is over. You age out of law faster than you would age out of being a porn star.

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    8. This is precisely why the ScamDean and LawProf sales-pitches and commentary are so infuriating. The hypocrites are trying to sign people up to do things that they themselves would not do.

      Further, as this class generally comes from positions of familial wealth and preferred, protected connections, they are unable to step outside the bubble and comprehend how the other half (read 99%) live.

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    9. I work at a decent mid size firm. I make 105k a year and I have no debt because of scollies and working during school.

      The above thread couldn't possibly be more accurate. This profession is made for the children of the rich (by and large). There are a few exceptions, but that's the situation.

      Where I live, 105k is not a lot of money (tradesmen make a lot more). You can't afford a house on that, you can't go out much on that, and in fact, you are basically living a very normal existence on that money. Moreover, when you
      Compound this with a shitty retirement plan and the likelihood that I won't have a job at some point as the market deteriorates, I'm not in a great position. (I say all this because as fucked up as my situation is, I'm still better off than most law graduates).

      The vast majority of the people I work with do not live on their salaries, pure and simple. The job is a status symbol for their families. I open up conversations with them every now and then, and I tell them I wish I dropped out of high school and became a plumber, and you should see the aghast look in their eyes. The mere thought of doing that is an anathema to them. At the same time, the amount they pay in rent basically amounts to their net monthly salary. I'm not joking. Many of these folks are paying 4-5k in rent.

      One day I was describing how my best friend from high school is basically set for life (he's a lieutenant in the police force and makes around 180k in salary, has bought three rental properties, and he will retire in his mid forties with 120k in pension and healthcare for life), and one of these characters started berating me and telling me she/he would never do such a shit job irrespective of the money. I couldn't take it. I straight up asked him if he could survive without his family's help? He gave me a blank stare and wouldn't answer. (Note: this wasn't a good idea, but more on that later).

      At some point, this persons family will buy him/her a house, car, etc. When regular people see her/him, they'll think "man, there's another successful lawyer." In reality, this person was born on third base and the law degree provides the cover-up to that fact.

      When you are a regular person working in environments like that, it's bad on so many levels. It's bad because these people disdain you because despite their advantage you are in the same position they are. They disdain you because you are a reminder to them that but for their family, their efforts would have amounted to a shit existence. Finally, they disdain you because you are competition, and they stick together (as mentioned above).

      Also, they will get promotions over more qualified people because, given their ability to grant favors back, authority figures want to do favors for them, including partners and others.

      I've wondered why big law pays 160k a year, and it has nothing to do with a skills shortage. The people who run big law come from these kinds of backgrounds and it's important for them to make it seem like the system is based on merit. To this point, one of my colleagues sisters works in big law. Her father, who makes a few million a year in a hedge fund, was bragging to me about her lock step bonus. Think about that. To this guy, that amount of money is fucking peanuts; even if his daughter becomes partner in big law, the amount in her trust will exceed her career earnings, but it's the status that interests him. I can say the same for successful blue collar businessmen that have kids in school and in similar careers.

      If you don't come from this kind of background, or go to HYS,this profession is truly horrific on every level. Even if you aren't totally destroyed, your life would have been better had you pursued something else. This is the key. Also remember that many of the people that seem successfully as lawyers aren't successful because they are lawyers.

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    10. @2:36 I totally agree. And most of your days as a lawyer are spent in either ball-numbing boredom or vomit-inducing tension dealing with some low-life asshole opposing counsel with anger issues. It'd be fine for law professors to believe their own bullshit if they were harmless. But their delusions ruin other peoples' lives.

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    11. And, look what I found over on JDU. Proof of my philosophy:

      http://jdunderground.com/all/thread.php?threadId=93024

      waka (Jul 25, 2015 - 9:06 am)

      We sat that down with him and did the math, it seems legit. Here's the story:

      Kid never went to college; started working full time after high school.
      Got a full time job with UPS at 20 and PT at the local pizzeria delivering pizza. Maxed out his 401K from UPS and deposited the rest in a brokerage account. Lived at home until 27 and shared a 2-bedroom with 3 other people from 27-30.

      End result at 30? $293K in his 401K and $140+K in savings. His plan is to live off $1,000/month while traveling the world. Costa Rica, Vietnam, Thailand, Ecuador...He's been doing this for 3+ years now and was home recently before taking off again.

      $1,000 month is also less than the recommended 4% safe withdrawal, so he actually overshot his financial goals.

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  3. 1. DON'T GO

    2. Read
    a. "The Goal " (Goldratt)
    b "The Economic Way of Thinking " (Henye)
    c. "Understanding Financial Statements" (Fraser and Ormiston)
    d. "Financial Analysis with Microsoft Excel " (Mayes)
    e. "Accounting : what the numbers mean " or any first year accounting text.

    3. Use your knowledge gained above to acquire and advance in a real job.

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  4. "[H]e means not the legal profession as it exists, but the fantastical legal profession academics think about while touching themselves Socratically."

    TYFT, and well said overall. The common theme here is that the recommended works are at least 15 years old if not significantly more. If that doesn't speak volumes to the current-day relevancy of legal education, I don't know what else does (except the economic data, of course).

    Atticus Finch has left the building, folks.

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    1. "Atticus Finch has left the building, folks."

      If he ever was here in the first place.

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    2. Truth. Movies often reflect the world as we wish it was, not as it actually is. Or popcorn-munching escapism.

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  5. Michael Krauss is a clown. He teaches at George Mason, which costs 40K a year and has a 55% employment score on Law School Transparency. George Mason is to conservative spawn what Vermont is to leftist brat-children...

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    1. I especially like the fact that he has put his children's academic creditals on his CV.

      See,

      http://www.law.gmu.edu/assets/files/faculty/cv/krauss.pdf

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    2. LOL - i think "my daughter clerked for Scalia 3 years ago" is worse than a bumper sticker that says "my kid is an honor student."

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  6. When I read the quote at the top, I thought to myself, "There is NO way this egomaniac called law 'the noblest of professions.'" But he did, he seriously did. What an out-of-touch nutcase. There is NOTHING noble about the legal profession anymore. In the city where I live, the public buses have huge, sleazy ads on them for personal injury lawyers. What kind of "noble profession " advertises itself on the side of a bus?

    If you want to join a noble profession, it's still possible...try medicine, nursing, K-12 education, social work, law enforcement....anything but becoming a lawyer.

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    1. It's all marketing. Calling law "the sleaziest of professions" doesn't bring the student loan dollars through the door.

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  7. My alternative list, attempting to match type of work more than subject matter.
    1. Anthony Lewis, Gideon’s Trumpet. In other words, I agree with LSTC, but I think this is a better swap for In Cold Blood.
    2. Richard Posner, The Crisis of Capitalist Democracy. If we are going to go big think, contemporary, law-related non-fiction, let’s go whole hog.
    3. Scott Turow, Presumed Innocent. While it's not 1987, it is closer to 1987 than 1936. Also, you aren’t in high school anymore. Read something new. Or at least watch the movie.
    4. Agree with LSTC and have nothing to add.
    5. John Scalzi, Fuzzy Nation. If we are going to read fiction that doesn’t involve American law, can’t the novel at least be a little bit fun?
    6. Robert Katzmann, Judging Statutes, and/or Scalia & Garner, Reading Law. Agree with LSTC again, but I think these are better reads.
    7. Dr. Seuss, Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories. Don't read a law review article any sooner than you absolutely have to. Learning not to be an entitled, arrogant jerk, and not to take yourself too seriously, will also be good preparation for dealing with the law school environment and legal practice.
    8. Terry Pratchett, The Truth or Making Money. See explanation for 5.
    9. Ben Yagoda, When You Catch an Adjective, Kill It. At this point in the list, instead of worrying about tort law in action, you’ll do better to make sure you have a grasp on the critical legal and life skill of writing clearly and concisely.

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    1. Definitely agree with picking a Scalzi book, but for one that is both hysterically funny and contains fascinating (and, well, fantastic) legal elements, I would VERY strongly recommend his The Android's Dream

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    2. I'd suggest replacing Presumed Innocent with The Rainmaker. Better yet, the movie of The Rainmaker.

      BTW, +1 LOL @ "the noblest of professions"

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    3. Fair enough point of view. There are a number of Scalzi books that have legal elements (more do than don't, really) and Android's Dream is certainly a fun one. I went with Fuzzy Nation over Android's Dream mostly because the ending of the latter felt somewhat contrived to me.

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    4. I'd add "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" as well....

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    5. I'll throw in John G. Hemry's superb yet unfortunately overlooked A Just Determination (Ace Books, May 2003), Burden of Proof (Ace Books, March 2004), Rule of Evidence (Ace Books, March 2005), and Against All Enemies (Ace Books, March 2006) for anyone who likes science fiction and law.

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    6. "Who are these people? These faces! Where do they come from? They look like caricatures of used-car dealers from Dallas. And, sweet Jesus, there are a hell of a lot of them - still screaming around these desert — city crap tables at four thirty on a Sunday morning. Still humping the American Dream, that vision of the Big Winner somehow emerging from the last minute pre-dawn chaos of a stale Vegas casino."
      -Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

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  8. Good list.

    Thinking about it more, I agree wholeheartedly on point 9.

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  9. Speaking of "the noblest of professions," the list should include Kids for Cash, by William Ecenbarger.

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  10. I would also like to suggest two additional texts. First, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich." Ten years of forced labor is easy compared to what a "newly minted" law student will face. Although, frankly, the loyalty found in the work gangs of the gulag will be nothing like the back-stabbing competitiveness you will witness among your classmates.


    Second, Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five." Take notice of the idiotic, unstoppable and damaging machine you are about to step into. Yes, you will walk about of the basement and step into post-firebomb Dresden after 1L grades and class rank come out. Good times.

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    1. If you read the first one, keep in mind that's there's no Montana Wildhack waiting for your on Tralfalmador. You're a zoo exhibit, but it's just you, the walls, and stacks of paper written by boring assholes.

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  11. I shall not bother to recommend readings, as few law-school lemmings would (or could) heed my suggestions. How many entering students at George fucking Mason have read nine books in their whole damn lives?

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  12. In the comments at Prawfsblawg, a professor from Wayne State said that he wants his students to spend their summer reading poetry.

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