6 books that will help you be a better law school student

By Alexandra Sumner 

I know, I know: you don’t want to do anymore reading. Your eyes are tired. You’ve already had to change your glasses prescription twice since beginning law school. And you carry Visine in your pocket. But hear me out: reading for fun every once and a while can reignite the passion you once had for reading. Below is a list of books that will both educate and entertain you!


1.“Send.” Do you really know how to send an email, or have you just been winging it the whole time? While Send was written back before iPads were invented, the advice is hardly irrelevant.


The book discusses when to send an email vs. when to make a phone call. The authors also discuss the phenomena of “forward momentum,” the idea that emails give the appearance of progress, but are mostly just empty words and over-communication. And another thing: the age of technology makes it easier to contact anyone: You can email a CEO or an IHOP manager, but should you?


The authors interview college professors and hiring managers, all with the same complaint: They’re not used to being contacted directly from a potential employee or student — some are even a little offended. This book is a primer in email etiquette — and like your mother —it teaches you to mind your manners.


2. “Getting to Maybe.” It takes a long while to get from “I don’t think I’ll survive my first semester” to “wow, I might actually get through this.”


Getting to Maybe helps close the anxiety and experience gap. Filled with anecdotes, advice, and a few insider tips, this book will help you truly understand the “culture” of law school before you make any social faux-pas.


From understanding how a law school exam is written to a briefing on the Socratic method, while this book can be read quickly it’s advice won’t soon be forgotten.


3. An autobiography of a famous attorney in your desired field. What better way to learn an area than to study the great ones? Pick someone you admire and find out how they became so admirable. Then do what they did. Rinse and repeat.


4. “Plain English for Lawyers.” Listen, I get it, sometimes it’s fun to write in the “hear ye, hear ye” style of previous attorneys. But I think we can both agree it isn’t the most effective way to get the job done.


This short instruction manual teaches you to get rid of words like “heretofore” and “hence” while cutting down on the doublets and archaic vocabulary. Cease and desist using phrases like “aid and abet” and keep your diction free and clear of repetition.


5. A social justice issue book. Pick a topic that inspires you, whatever your personal politics may be. Maybe you’re interested in the housing crisis, or education, or freedom of speech; whatever it is, find a notable book in that area and dive right in.


It will give you some insight and anecdotes in that area and provide you with some statistics and facts that are a bit more in-depth than your average twitter post. Some suggestions include: “No One Cares About Crazy People,” “The Color of Law, Educated: A Memoir,” “The Two Income Trap,” and “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic.”


6. A legal scandal piece. I may have made a mistake on this one: I chose to read “Too Big to Fail.” Was it informative? Yes. What is fun? Well, no.


Find a good synthesis between the two and pick up a book on a legal scandal you want to know more about—whether it be the famous McDonald’s “Hot Coffee” case, Silicon Valley, Enron, or the Trump Whitehouse. Pick something that’s well-written and well-received as there are plenty to choose from.

Alexandra Sumner is a recent graduate of Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis.