Ah, the summer! It’s time to relax a little (yes, that’s even possible for lawyers). For a lot of people, that might mean actually kicking back and reading a book. We asked lawyers what’s at the top of their reading list this summer. Here’s what they had to say:
“I would recommend reading Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli. This book made me realize that no matter how crazy or stressful I think my cases are, or how much I think that they are the biggest thing in life in that moment, they are not. The book helped put things back into perspective for me and realize that the small stress I get from one of my cases is so minor when looking in comparison to the bigger picture of life.” –Alex Ozols, a criminal defense lawyer in San Diego.
“I’ve been teaching legal teams how to adopt Lean and Agile practices for years, and I now recommend The Lean Law Firm by Larry Port and Dave Maxfield to all of my clients. It is fantastic to have a comprehensive but easy-to-digest resource written for the legal profession. I’ve seen first hand how teams that implement the methods in this book can see dramatic improvements over just a few weeks, all while setting the stage for a pattern of continuous improvement over the long term.”—John E. Grant, founder of The Agile Attorney
“Here are a few good reads I’d recommend to any fellow lawyer: The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene, which is a great guide to get to the top and stay there. My favorite tip from the book: Never put too much trust in friends and learn how to use enemies; Getting Things Done—The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen; and The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson, which is a great reminder of the finite nature of life.” –Marc-André Séguin, a New York and Canada-licensed business immigration lawyer.
“As attorneys, we often see things unfiltered, not how they appear to the rest of the world. A book that I couldn’t put down because it gave me such tremendous insight into people and eventually led to me being less and less surprised by what people do, is People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil by M. Scott Peck.” –Anthony E. Parent, founding partner of Parent & Parent LLP, the IRSMedic, a law firm dedicated to helping clients with a wide array of tax problems.
“Lawyers as Peacemakers by J. Kim Wright, one of my Integrative Law mentors. Kim helps attorneys use our practices as true self-expression, where appropriate. The Art of Practicing Law by John Allison, Profit First by Mike Michalowicz, and The Power of a Positive No by William Ury, which is perfect for those of us who have a hard time taking vacation. Readers will gain confidence in saying “no” and honoring their own needs, without feeling like bad people.” –Nance L. Schick, an attorney, arbitrator, mediator, and author in New York City.
“To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is an obvious pick for attorneys, as is The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, which deals with absurd legal proceedings based on Puritan values in colonial America. In my opinion, the best legal novel ever is A Time to Kill by John Grisham. And finally, reading materials tied to the practice of law is always a good idea. If you go to court and handle evidentiary hearings, you must read MacCarthy on Cross-Examination by Terrence MacCarthy. It will change your career—it is that good!” –Michael Dye, a criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale.
“I would recommend Principles by Ray Dalio. I think it’s a great book for a lawyer, especially if you run your own practice, because it offers incredibly actionable insights that are likely counter-intuitive to how a lot of attorneys think. Reading something like this while away from the office could be a great motivator to re-prioritize both life and work.” –Jared Staver, a personal injury lawyer in Chicago.
“Without a doubt, I recommend the sixth edition of Jay Foonberg’s How to Start and Build a Law Practice. This book is the bible of hanging up your own shingle and starting your own law practice. It is also a great refresher for those managing attorneys who need a point of reference for growth and expansion.” – Chadwick Kaehne, a criminal defense and civil litigation attorney in Appleton, Wisconsin.
“Anything by John Grisham is a great read, but I’d have to say my favorite is The Last Juror. A page-turner through and through, you won’t be able to set it down until you’ve finished it. It’s a prequel to Grisham’s first novel A Time to Kill. Grisham himself is an attorney and depicts the conviction process very well, which is always refreshing to see in a novel.” –Angat Saini, a real estate lawyer in Toronto.
“Here are a few of my summer reading recommendations: The Buffalo Creek Disaster: How the Survivors of One of the Worst Disasters in Coal-Mining History Brought Suit Against the Coal Company—And Won by Gerald M. Stern. This is a story of how a couple of hundred survivors of one of the deadliest floods in U.S. history banded to together to sue the corporate owner of an impoundment dam that failed. Gerald Stern, a young lawyer at the time, weaves in his litigation strategies to bring the class action lawsuit. This book is an entertaining read for any law student or lawyer interested in the thought process behind the strategies lawyers use every day from forum options to motion practice, and client representation. Fish Raincoats: A Woman Lawyer’s Life by Barbara Babcock is a memoir written by the first director of the District of Columbia Public Defender Service, who was also one of the first women to serve as Assistant Attorney General of the United States. This is an inspiring read for any woman considering her options in the law. And Black Fortunes: The Story of the first Six African Americans Who Escaped Slavery and Became Millionaires by Shomari Wills, which delivers a wide range of interesting characters who overcame racial adversity to acquire wealth. These stories will open your world to the concept of privilege or a lack thereof.” —Jamell Isidor, an agency attorney at NYC Department of Buildings.
Kristin Johnson is an executive and corporate communications professional, and founder of KSJ Communications, a communications and public relations firm. She consults with a diverse roster of clients spanning the technology, professional services, financial services, public sector, consumer, and healthcare industries. In addition to Rocket Matter, Johnson writes for various other publications as well.