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"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.
Read Instead: 1. Robert Traver, "Anatomy of a Murder"
Krauss Pick: 2. Goldstein and Meyer, "Lawfare..."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.
Read Instead: 2. Anthony Lewis, "Gideon's Trumpet" or "Make No Law"
Krauss Pick: 3. Harper Lee, "To Kill a Mockingbird""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.
Read Instead: 3. Franz Kafka, "The Trial"
Krauss Pick: 4. Karl Llewelyn, "The Bramble Bush""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.
Read Instead: 4. Brian Tamanaha, "Failing Law Schools", Paul Campos, "Don't Go to Law School (Unless)", or Charles Cooper/Thane Messinger, "Con Law..."
Krauss Pick: 5. Herman Melville, "Billy Budd"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.
Read Instead: 5. John Grisham, "The Firm"
Krauss Pick: 6. "The Federalist Papers"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.
Read Instead: 6. Antonin Scalia, "A Matter of Interpretation" and/or "Stephen Breyer, "Active Liberty"
Krauss Pick: 7. Patrick Schiltz, "On Being a Happy..."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.
Read Instead: 7. Steven Harper, "The Lawyer Bubble"
Krauss Pick: 8. B.F. Skinner, "Walden Two"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.
Read Instead: 8. Charles Dickens, "Bleak House"
Krauss Pick: 9. Barry Werth, "Damages""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.
Read Instead: 9. Secondary articles about David Ball and Donald Keenan, "Reptile"
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."