Law School Prep Books Update


Fact-finding--"The process of taking evidence to determine the truth about a disputed point.”
-Black's Law Dictionary

I’ve been planning this update about these books for a while, and ironically, my law school assigned readings from these books for the 1Ls.  If you’ve been with my blog since the beginning or have read all of my posts, you’ve probably read my post on What I’m Reading to Prep for Law School.  Now that I’m going into my 3L year, I felt that it was a good time to look back on these “law school prep books” and see if they were worth buying and reading.  So, if you are starting law school soon (maybe in the next few weeks!) and just want to feel a little more comfortable with the journey, check out one of these books to see what they have to say about law school!

Reading Like a Lawyer-Ruth Ann McKinney

When I wrote my initial post on law school prep books, I hadn’t read this book yet, but I ended up reading it this summer and am kinda regretting not reading it earlier.  As dumb as this sounds, it truly helps you to read like a lawyer.  Law school reading is a different beast than “fun” reading or any other type of reading you may have done for undergrad.  McKinney provides an acronym for how to approach reading law school cases, EMPOWER, which I find to be a great starting point until reading and briefing cases becomes second nature.  A lot of her tips are things that I picked up on after a semester of case reading but would have been helpful to read prior to going to law school.  Something I also really liked about this book is that she included examples of briefing cases at the end of every chapter to help work on those particular skills discussed in the chapter. 

Getting to Maybe-Richard Michael Fischl and Jeremy Paul

I also highly recommend reading this book prior to law school or law school exams.  It explains how to approach law school exams in a more in depth way than just stating the IRAC method.  It really goes into how to write out a law school exam answer rather than just saying “It depends.”  I like their forks methodology.  The authors explain writing an answer by considering the answer as having two forks that you can go down, picking and explaining one, and then switching to the other fork.  I’ve found that a lot of law school professors really like answers that include some form of “in response to that argument, the other party would say…”.  This gets a thumbs up from me.

Open Book-Barry Friedman and John Goldberg

This is another winner.  I think if you really want to know how to take notes and how to apply what you learn in class to studying and taking exams, this is the book for you.  I know during my first couple weeks, I noticed that some people really focused on the minute factual details of a case that really didn’t matter.  The authors really explain what to focus on when reading cases for class and synthesizing the material into something that is easy to study and memorize.  It goes over case briefing, IRAC, writing exam answers (in depth discussion of each IRAC component), outlining, multiple choice exams, etc.  The book also has a digital component that has model answers for some of the hypotheticals in the book itself, sample outlines, class notes, how to read statutes, and even practice exams for all of the 1L classes.  I definitely recommend this book if you want a whole overview of a law school class from reading homework to taking exams.

Planet Law School II-Atticus Falcon

I had my qualms about this book in my initial post.  I found the book to be a good overview of the entire law school process with a few good points.  However, I think it was a little too depressing about the entire law school experience.  Is law school always rainbows and cute puppies/kittens?  No.  Have I felt like I wanted to drop out and I wasn’t cut out for law school?  Yes.  But I think the author of this book thinks law school is a huge scam and law school professors really are just in their ivory towers and don’t care about anything but their jobs.  I haven’t really found law school to be that way, I think professors do actually care about their students and enjoy talking about everything related to the law.  I can sum up some of the advice that I thought helped me in law school:  Buy E&Es because they’re a great way of reviewing material from class that may be a little confusing and put it in layman’s terms.  Because of the lack of availability of this book on Amazon, you may want to look to other law school blogs for much of the helpful advice this book provides.

Three out of four books with good reviews isn’t bad!  Should I do a part two on these types of reviews?  What law school books would you like me to review as a part of this series.  Let me know on Twitter, Insta, or send me an email below!

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