From legal fiction to writing guides to insights from seasoned lawyers, there’s no shortage of best books for lawyers out there. Books exist all along the spectrum aimed at everyone from potential law school students to those rebuilding their legal career with a solo practice.
We’ve assembled a list of 15 of the best books for lawyers in different categories—from getting started as a new attorney to smoothing out your day-to-day operations with new project and time management ideas. We’ve also paired each recommendation with quotes from actual readers on the value they got out of each book.
Best Books for Law School Students and Fledgling Lawyers
Law students should think broadly beyond applying case law. Working as a lawyer requires them to think about productivity, communication, client management, and even business strategy.
These books are designed to give prospective lawyers a taste of the business and strategies for juggling all the different requirements for the job.
1. How to Like Being a Lawyer: Thriving in BigLaw, Small Law & Solopreneurship, H.S. Orr
New graduates have important decisions to make when it comes to tracks of practicing law: enter the corporate world of BigLaw, secure a nonprofit or public service career, or open their own firm.
Lawyers invest years to get into their profession and often make big financial investments for the privilege. And yet public opinion of lawyers is low, job openings are scarce, and plenty of studies show that most lawyers are unhappy. This book endeavors to help lawyers find happiness and peace in their careers regardless of which track they’ve chosen.
“Truly insightful and informative guide to operating in the legal arena. I found these lessons applicable to the world of business as well. Well written, progresses logically, and easy to read.”- Monique O.
2. The Tools of Argument, Joel P. Trachtman
Combining legal knowledge with the most successful argument and storytelling tactics, law students will walk away from this book with a clear understanding of what it means to practice as a lawyer in settlement conversations, the written word, and in court.
“The author explains the difference between law and common sense, law and ethics, understanding of crime in legal terms and in laymen words. The book closely examines the logical reasoning of the law professionals, demonstrating the “tricks” used in courtrooms. Fascinating reading.” -Russky
Best Books for Lawyers on Starting and Running a Law Firm
Any law student planning to start their own practice should view hanging their shingle as a form of entrepreneurship. Recognizing how technology, client demands, and competition all affect running a law firm today, those entering the field can turn to these books for a good perspective on what it takes and some of the challenges they will face.
3. Project Management in Electronic Discovery: An Introduction to Core Principles of Legal Project Management and Leadership In eDiscovery, Michael Quartararo
This book combines winning concepts from project management and applies them to deliverables for electronic discovery and litigation support. Attorneys managing big cases who want to use these best practices will find it easier to collect, organize, and share critical information throughout cases using electronic discovery.
“Whether one is managing the first project or improvising, this guide will offer the best practices and confidence needed for defining goals and achieving them for enhancement and ensuring future projects are executed smoothly.”- Maribel R.
4. Traction, Gino Wickman
Equal parts project management and CEO-style strategy, Traction helps lawyers discover a way of hiring, training, conducting meetings, and running a business based on the principles of the Entrepreneur Operating System (EOS.)
“I’ve been running businesses and coaching CEOs for over 30 years. Traction is one of the most practical and useful guides for professionalizing a good business and turning it into a great business. Gino Wickman knows about businesses, people, and processes. His six segments cover all of what is necessary to get hold of a business, plan its future, get everyone aligned, and move forward with purpose and efficiency. His useful tools for holding meetings, for planning, for evaluating people, for measuring results are all available on-line for free download. If I were still running a company, every manager would have a copy of this book and we would follow the meeting pulse suggested in Traction.”- E.S. Cox
Best Books for Career Development in Law
Once you’ve settled into your career, it can be hard to tell what steps to take next. This book was written for lawyers who are assessing their options for career growth and striking out on their own as a solo practitioner.
5. Attorney and Law Firm Guide to the Business of Law: Planning and Operating for Survival and Growth, Edward Poll.
Designed for lawyers thinking about starting their own firm, this book breaks down the basics of what attorneys need to know before making the leap and pulls lessons from successful law firms all over the country.
“It is important for lawyers, especially for solos and those in small firms, to not only be technically competent in the law, but also understand business factors such as: marketing, accounting, collections of accounts receivable, insurance, write-offs, branding, cash flow, financial statements, leverage, financial management, banking, technology, hiring and firing, appraisals, managing employees and many other matters essential to the successful practice of law as a business. Luckily, Mr. Poll deals with each of these topics (and more) in an easy-to-understand manner that will be sure to improve your bottom line.” -A. Nye
Best Books for Lawyers on Business
Running your law firm is about so much more than handling cases. It’s about running a business, too. This requires knowledge of accounting, operations, HR, marketing, and more. These books cover those vital topics.
6. E Myth Attorney, Michael E. Gerber
Based on the well-respected business principles of Michael Gerber but adapted for the legal industry, this book helps new solo and small firm lawyers get started quickly. In addition to basic business strategies, the book also features the insights of two lawyers who have already applied Gerber’s insights to their law firms.
7. The Marble and the Sculptor: From Law School to Law Practice, Keith Robert Lee
Law school doesn’t prepare most lawyers for running the day-to-day operations of a business. This book dives deep into what it takes to run a law practice besides practical knowledge of a practice area.
Many reviewers suggest that it’s beneficial to read before going into law school for those aspiring attorneys hoping to open a solo practice.
“I have practiced law for over 25 years, and if I were giving advice to new attorneys this would be the book I’d write.”- Ernest S.
Best Books for Lawyers on Productivity and Time Management
Staying productive and on task is critical for lawyers. Getting the most out of the time you have available to work helps you scale up your law firm. These books provide you with insight into winning time management strategies.
8. The Client Centered Law Firm: How to Succeed in an Experience-Driven World, Jack Newton
According to Newton, lawyers are focusing too much on marketing, systems, and daily activities that harm them across the board. Narrowing in on what’s most important to clients is critical for maximum productivity and client happiness. This great book features many actionable steps for lawyers who want to revisit the framework of their law firm.
“Jack Newton takes the reader through the logic and reasoning behind why client-centered services will benefit every firm. As each firm will vary in how it should focus efforts it’s a book about the strategy, not the tactics. There’s no magic pill or silver bullet formula for every firm. The industry in general and lawyers individually are under great pressure to adapt. Yet, most of the time that pressure just makes people feel even more overwhelmed. But this book is a guide that will get you on the journey. It won’t give you a fish, it will teach you to think like a fisherman.”- Jess
9. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Cal Newport
While not a legal book, Cal Newport’s Deep Work manuscript is helpful for lawyers who struggle with going back and forth between focus periods and day-to-day tasks like office management and client communication.
The primary thrust is that there are two kinds of work most people do: deep and shallow. Knowing the difference and spending as much time in deep work mode can help you thrive.
Even though lawyers won’t be able to disengage from their offices like Henry David Thoreau or Steve Jobs, they’ll find helpful advice for decreasing distractions and increasing their output in deep work sessions.
“This was quite an inspiring but challenging read. Not challenging in the sense of difficult – the book is very-well written and flows easily – but it goes against the grain of so many current social and work habits and fads. In this reader at least, the book did provoke quite a profound sense of loss when I realized what I could and did achieve earlier in my life against what my current distracted self can achieve. The book falls into two broad sections: the first is the why – why deep work is good but why it doesn’t happen; the second is the how – tips to make deep work happen in your life, with very different approaches depending upon the nature of one’s life and work.”- JWH
Best Books for Lawyers on Mental Health, Personal Growth, and Happiness
Striking a healthy work-life balance and avoiding burnout can be difficult for many lawyers. These books are meant to help you find ways to develop your career without sacrificing your well-being.
10. The Happy Lawyer, Douglas O. Linder
The author connects individual personality types to how this might impact someone’s level of happiness working in various fields of the law.
As a bonus, those who read this in law school will find support for selecting a school that resonates with them.
“This book covers an amazingly broad range of topics given its moderate length. Anyone connected with the practice of law in any way will benefit from the fascinating discussion of so many different issues, from psychology and employee relations, to architecture and philosophy. I’ve never read anything like this book, but I’m certainly glad I stumbled upon it.”- David
11. The New Law Business Model: Build a Lucrative Law Practice That You (and Your Clients) Love, Ali Katz
For lawyers who don’t want to join a bigger practice but are looking for a practice area with a low risk of burnout, Ali Katz’s book promoting estate planning and business law is perfect for many attorneys. She shares her personal experience and some of the foundations of her coaching company’s philosophy about attracting clients and building consistent revenue in these practice areas.
“Great advice, practical, easy to follow. Ali also has great suggestions for other books that will benefit any law firm owner. What I loved most is that, it’s ok to love being a solo, if that’s what makes you happy. So many other coaches force this ideal of perpetual growth. But growth without joy is meaningless.”- Nat G.
Best Classic Books for Lawyers
Almost every experienced lawyer can point back to some inspiration from legal classics. These are some of the favorites.
12. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
This book isn’t just high school required reading: the story of Atticus Finch resonates with most attorneys and judges for years beyond when they first encountered it. The power of winning arguments and how the law can deliver (or fail to deliver) justice encouraged many to consider law as a career in the first place.
“Full of life lessons. Atticus is pretty much the perfect human and the wisdom he imparts to Scout and Jem is profound. I liked how Harper Lee took her time building up to the actual trial. She shows us years of life in Maycomb so that the reader can truly understand the South in the 1930s. There is a rich cast of supporting characters, all vividly drawn. It’s tragic to realize that not all that much has changed in how our country treats black people since the time of this book. Black people are still treated unfairly by the criminal justice system quite often, resulting in America’s huge mass incarceration problem.”- Rachel M.
13. The Firm, John Grisham
Grisham’s collection of books about the legal industry reaches lawyers and the general public in big numbers. His second book, it was turned into a movie and inspired a generation of would-be lawyers.
Grisham has a slew of other must-read books (many of them bestsellers) for those who enjoy legal fiction, some of which are based on his personal life.
“John Grisham is extraordinarily entertaining and my favorite storyteller. Imagine my delight when I discovered recently this was the only one of his books I did not have. I realized that although I had seen the movie long ago, I had never read the novel. I ordered it and read it immediately. Great depth and detail, but still easy to follow.” – CBWMO
Best Books for Lawyers Who Write Often
Anyone in the legal profession should also keep style guides, grammar books, and legal writing books on their library or office shelves.
14. The Elements of Legal Style, Bryan A. Garner
Any good lawyer should own a copy of this stylebook covering topics from structure to word choice to quotations, defined terms, and more. The book is filled with great examples of prose in legal history, allowing readers to apply the concepts to practice quickly and effectively.
Add this to your legal practice reading list whether you’re a young lawyer or a seasoned veteran.
“This book is (1) a reference book, (2) an invaluable resource, (3) more than just a grammar or style book ever thought of being, (4) chocked full of historical information and legal literary quotes, (5) presented in a humorous and accessible manner, and (6) the standard to which all legal writers should aspire.”- Fred W.
15. Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges, Bryan A. Garner and Antonin Scalia
One of the best books in the legal industry for making precise and compelling arguments to judges and juries, Garner and Scalia touch on legal brief writing, legal reasoning, and how to be persuasive in oral arguments.
“The concepts shared in this book provide an excellent foundation for litigation. I was going to say I wished I had read it earlier in my career, but I am not sure if I would have appreciated its value without first having experienced the challenges of multiple trials, motions, and hearings before a judge.” -Leighton
Update Your Reading List Now
Whether you’re just starting as a first-year attorney or you’re looking for new ways to grow your firm, these books should help you find fresh, new ideas. Reading about strategies to reinvigorate your brand or develop better processes can be an excellent first step towards greater business success.