For many lawyers, a love of reading is part and parcel with the profession. Within an industry that prides itself on clear thinking and good writing, it’s little wonder that the legal field has produced many great books for readers of all ages. Here are just three books that lawyers may want to pick up the next time they’re at a bookstore, and what those books tell us about an ever-changing field.
- ‘Gideon’s Trumpet’ by Anthony Lewis
It may seem strange to us now, but the US constitution didn’t always guarantee an accused person the right to representation by an attorney. Or did it? ‘Gideon’s Trumpet’ by Anthony Lewis is a must-read for any lawyer who is interested in how ideals within the constitution are put into practical effect by the court system. Diving into the story of how the Supreme Court guaranteed the right to counsel for all US citizens, the reader of ‘Gideon’s Trumpet’ will encounter major legal figures from US history such as Abe Fortas and Earl Warren. Audiences will learn about how the court system is a continuously evolving institution that sometimes struggles with the challenges of putting notions of equal opportunity into effect.
- ‘Go East, Young Man’ by William O. Douglas
Like Abraham Lincoln, William O. Douglas embodied the “rags to riches” tale central to the American concept of self. Raised in poverty in the Depression-era Yakima, Washington, Douglas put himself through Columbia Law School after “riding the rails” from Washington to the East Coast, and after a stint teaching at Yale was appointed to the Supreme Court. Not bad for a country boy who once saved on rooming costs by sleeping in a tent on his college lawn!
- ‘The Paper Chase’ by John Jay Osborn Jr.
Later turned into a successful film and television series by the same name, ‘The Paper Chase’ was John Jay Osborn’s semi-autobiographical novel about his time as a first-year Harvard Law student. Memorable characters abound, including the curmudgeonly but good-natured law professor Charles W. Kingsfield, who rules his first-year charges with an iron fist as he molds them into top-flight legal minds. Famed for capturing the rigors of law school’s first-year syllabus, this novel should be a must-read for anyone who loves books about the law and the law school experience.
For lawyers who love to read, the options are many for great books that explain the abundance of frustrations and rewards of that comes along with legal education and career. The study of the law can sometimes be dry and repetitive, but that doesn’t mean that books on the subject have to be boring. As these three classic books prove, the law can make for a truly fascinating topic.