Suggested List from the Assistant Dean for Admissions
Frequently I am asked if there are any books we would recommend law students read before they begin law school. I believe the following books give students a sense of the history of American law, an idea of what law school is like, and why lawyers do the work they do.
Brown, Catherine D. Miracle at Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention May to September 1787, Vol 1. Little, Brown & Co.: 1986
This book is a history of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which resulted in production of the Constitution of the United States.
Dwyer, Jim and Nuefeld, Peter and Scheck, Barry. Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution and Other Dispatches from the Wrongly Convicted. Penguin Group Inc.: 2001
This book examines the shortcomings in the legal process and how they have led to the wrongful convictions of innocent people.
Epps, Garrett. To an Unknown God: Religious Freedom on Trial. St. Martin's Press: 2001.
This is the story of an American Indian's defense of his religious right to engage in a peyote ceremony.
Harr, Jonathan. A Civil Action. Vintage Books: 1995
The families of eight leukemia victims sue W.R Grace and Beatrice Foods for dumping a cancer-causing solvent into the water table of Woburn, Massachusetts.
Huhn, Wilson R. Five Types of Legal Argument. Carolina Academic Press: 2002.
This book is about law, legal method, and argumentation. It is applicable to common law, statutory law, and constitutional law.
Kluger, Richard. Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality. Alfred A. Knopf Inc.: 2004
This book examines the Supreme Courts 1954 decision that outlawed segregration in public schools.
Lee, Harper. To Kill A Mockingbird. Warner Books, Inc.: 1988.
The story of Atticus Finch, a lawyer during the Depression, is called to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman. This is a classic testament to the good that lawyers can do in the face of amazing adversity.
Llewellyn, Karl. Bramble Bush. Oceana Publications Inc.: 1977
This book reveals what law is, what you are asked to do in law school, and how law school will impact your life as a lawyer.
McKinney, Ruth Ann. Reading Like a Lawyer: Time-Saving Strategies for Reading Law Like an Expert. Carolina Academic Press: 2005
Professor McKinney, the Director of the University of North Carolina School of Law Learning Resource Center, identifies core strategies-reinforced with hands-on exercises, that experienced, successful legal readers use when approaching law-related reading in and out of the classroom so that you can learn to read law like the experts do.
I also highly recommend any of the books written by Richard North Patterson, particularly his latest Conviction, or Silent Witness, The Final Judgment, and No Safe Place.
Michael J. States, J.D
Assistant Dean for Admissions
University of North Carolina School of Law