10 books you should read before starting law school

From legal laughs and history to advice on winning arguments and understanding the city

Do you feel ready to start the LLB, SQE or PGDL?

While law school looms large for many, legal cheek shares legal-related literary classics and helpful textbooks that will help beginners learn more about the legal industry and the legal profession.

Letters to a law student

Written by Cambridge law professor Nicholas J McBride, this book uncovers insider secrets on how to get top marks in exams and handle the trials and tribulations of studying law. Law beginners also have the opportunity to peer into a crystal ball, as the book explains what you can do with a law degree and how to take the next steps when starting out in the legal industry. This grateful reader gave him this exam: “Everything you need to succeed as a law student is here.”

Right wing state

Not to be confused with former Law Lord Tom Bingham’s classic ‘The rule of law‘ (see below), the new book by Fernanda Pirie, Professor of Legal Anthropology at the University of Oxford, surveys the 4000 years of legal history dating back to Hammurabi and beyond! The book uncovers some fascinating trends in this survey of legal history that takes the reader to the current proliferation of international law. “A big help in understanding how culturally embedded rule systems, and therefore laws and policies, exist around the world,” said a reader.

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Justice on trial

Criminal barrister Chris Daw QC, who is currently making headlines for his role as defense counsel for Ryan Giggs in the ex-footballer’s assault trial, provides a hard-hitting account of some of the problems of the criminal justice system. He goes on to propose to some a radical program of reform including the abolition of prisons and the legalization of drugs. This book will challenge all the stereotypes you have about criminals with the insight of someone who has “looked into the eyes of murderers, acted for notorious criminals and listened to the stories woven by fraudsters, money launderers and drug lords”. A reader delirium“This book is the one I think everyone in society should read.”

E-courts and the future of justice

Whether you’re considering a career as a lawyer or at the bar, you’ll likely come across discussions about legal technology. Former Oxford law professor Richard Susskind offers a prescient insight that assesses and promotes many of the technological solutions that were central to justice systems’ responses to the pandemic around the world. The book argues for greater use of online courts by exploring the issue not only from a practical perspective, but also from moral and jurisprudential dimensions. “Although Susskind is a strong proponent of online courts, his argument is quite balanced and scholarly. His writing is crystal clear and admirably free of intricate technical details,” praises one exam.

The 2022 legal cheek List of the most

The slot machine: how the city workss

For all of you hoping to use your law degree to earn a TC at a large corporate law firm, look no further than this classic paperback book on financial market fundamentals. The book covers some of the fundamentals of finance, tackling questions such as what makes the pound go up or down in interest rates and why do we need the Money Machine – and what happens when is she collapsing?

After reading, you should be able to approach FT articles and avoid any awkward mistakes when a law firm partner asks you what a bond is during an interview. “Coggan does a good job of putting everything into context in simple language, making it quite digestible and relatable via simple examples, brief historical background, explaining the reasons for certain changes and developments, and reflecting the crash of 2008. Very good,” writing a fan.

The Secret Lawyer

You may have already received this for your birthday, Christmas, or even as a congratulations gift on getting to law school! The anonymous blogging lawyer is a household name known for cutting through political rhetoric and exposing the current state of the criminal justice system. They’ve now written three books on this subject, so if you like the first one, there’s even more to look forward to. “Excellent. An informative, interesting, entertaining and page-turning book,” Remarks a happy bookworm.

Devil’s advocate

For those inspired by the above to become a criminal lawyer, look no further than this book for the best first-hand advice from a QC specializing in domestic and international criminal law. The book offers an introduction to advocacy by exploring its techniques for deadly cross-examination, controlling witnesses, and presenting a persuasive performance before a judge and jury. Although nothing beats reality, this book, tagged by aficionados as “the bible of advocacy”, will certainly be very useful to you before a moot court competition for those who are interested.

Applications are open for the legal cheek September 2022 UK Virtual Law Fair

Injustice: How UK law fails women

Another powerful critique of the justice system is found in this book by Baroness Helena Kennedy. The Labor peer and criminal QC, who acted in the Brighton bombing trial, the Guildford Four appeal and the abduction of Baby Abbie Humphries, takes a forensic look at how the legal system discriminates against and fails women . “Outstanding, informative and powerful book – a must read for everyone,” said an examiner.

The Trials of the State: Law and the Decline of Politics

This book expands on the 2019 Reith Lectures by former Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption, which you can listen to here. Sumption is a rare breed of judge who was very outspoken with his opinions after retiring from the UKSC and set out his thoughts on the constitution, democracy and human rights in this book. In keeping with his reputation as a tremendously persuasive lawyer, his original and thought-provoking yet extremely clear and accessible writing is well worth reading. “So well written, so well argued and so interesting that they will also appeal to the layman for whom they are primarily intended. This is legal writing at its finest,” pens a reader.

The rule of law

Another Supreme Court Justice who has written a popular and widely accessible legal text is Lord Bingham. In this seminal work, Bingham attempts to pin down exactly what the elusive and widely used term ‘rule of law’ means. This small work, which has become a syllabus, presents in a clear and concise manner the development and the essential qualities of this important concept which will undoubtedly interest any budding student of public law. “Prospective law students should read this over the summer before the first semester of freshman year,” recommended an examiner. We at legal cheek definitely agree!

Applications are open for the legal cheek September 2022 UK Virtual Law Fair


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