1. letters to a law student – Nicholas McBride

M ‘Letters to a Law Student: A Guide to Studying Law at University ‘, written by Nicholas J McBride is a book filled with sagely advice. It is a book that has been voted as one of the top books for a law student to read. Anyone wanting a career in law will find a treasure trove of information on how to approach the profession.

It is written as a series of letters to a law student named Alex. The first chapter starts when Alex is deciding whether to do law, and the last chapter ends when Alex is about to graduate. Thus, the book, in five parts, deals with what to think of when deciding whether to do law or not, covers the law school life, and goes all the way till graduation and options afterwards.

One thing that stands out when using this format is that it speaks to the reader directly, partly because it addresses them, and partly because of the nature of letter writing (although all writing should speak to the reader). This format is something which is being tried in India also now.

In the first chapter, McBride answers the question, “is law the right subject for me? “.

McBride starts by saying:

Law is such an unfamiliar subject, any motivation you might have to study it is necessarily weak – you may like the idea of studying law in theory, but a theoretical attraction is hard to sustain when faced with the messy reality of what studying law involves.

2.To Kill a Mockingbird -Harper Lee

The title of To Kill a Mockingbird refers to the local belief, introduced early in the novel and referred to again later, that it is a sin To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee is subtly implying that the townspeople are responsible for killing Tom Robinson, and that doing so was not only unjust and immoral, but sinful.

In To Kill a Mockingbird, author Harper Lee uses memorable characters to explore civil rights and racism in the segregated Southern United States of the 1930s. Told through the eyes of Scout Finch, you learn about her father Atticus Finch, an attorney who hopelessly strives to prove the innocence of a black man unjustly accused of rape; and about Boo Radley, a mysterious neighbor who saves Scout and her brother Jem from being killed.

The events of To Kill a Mockingbird take place while Scout Finch, the novel’s narrator, is a young child. But the sophisticated vocabulary and sentence structure of the story indicate that Scout tells the story many years after the events described, when she has grown to adulthood.

To Kill a Mockingbird is unusual because it is both an examination of racism and a bildungsroman. Within the framework of a coming-of-age story, Lee examines a very serious social problem. Lee seamlessly blends these two very different kinds of stories.

  • 3.Landmark Judgments that Changed India – Asok Kumar Ganguly

The executive, the legislature and the judiciary are the three branches of government, both state and central, in India. Of these, it is the judiciary’s task to uphold constitutional values and ensure justice for all. The interpretation and application of constitutional values by the judicial system has had far-reaching impact, often even altering provisions of the Constitution itself. Although our legal system was originally based on the broad principles of the English common law, over the years it has been adapted to Indian traditions and been changed, for the better, by certain landmark verdicts. In Landmark Judgments that Changed India, former Supreme Court judge and eminent jurist Asok Kumar Ganguly analyses certain cases that led to the formation of new laws and changes to the legal system.

Discussed in this book are judgments in cases such as Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala that curtailed the power of Parliament to amend the Constitution; Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India and Others that defined personal liberty; and Golaknath v. State of Punjab, where it was ruled that amendments which infringe upon fundamental rights cannot be passed. Of special significance for law students and practitioners, this book is also an ideal guide for anyone interested in the changes made to Indian laws down the years, and the evolution of the judicial system to what it is today.

  • 4.The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win by Joel P. Trachtman

In his new book The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win, Professor

Joel Trachtman lays out the many intricacies related to how lawyers frame arguments. It is a

masterly treatment of a complex and compelling set of issues. There is much to learn here, both

for the experienced practitioner and for the novice to the field.”

“Professor Trachtman’s book is required reading for lawyers, those who hire or work with

lawyers, anyone interested in understanding the dynamics of legal negotiations or of political

debate, and anyone interested in winning arguments. Its unique and practical approach strips

away jargon to isolate the core elements of legal reasoning and argumentation in a way that is

accessible and applicable in everyday situations. Non-lawyers will find it a useful guide to

effective persuasion.”


‘Before Memory Fades’ is a personal narrative of the life of Fali S. Nariman, a senior advocate in Supreme Court of India. A very reputed lawyer, both nationally and internationally, Nariman has been associated with high profile cases which find a special mention in this book. The book discusses his life right from his childhood days spent in Rangoon, shifting to Bombay due to the Japanese takeover of Rangoon, his life thereafter in Bombay and how he decided to take up law as a career, his subsequent practice in Bombay High Court which started in the chambers of Jamshedji Kanga- whose humility greatly influences Nariman, his upgradation as the Attorney Solicitor General (ASG) and his shifting to Delhi with his wife-Bapsi, his becoming a member of the Rajya Sabha for a full term of six years, his receiving the Padma Vibhushan, etc.

The autobiography, however, mainly revolves around his life as a legal practitioner while giving profound instances of his relationship with eminent judges and lawyers. The writing style is typical of a lawyer with many footnotes and side notes within parentheses which do not make up for a great piece of literature. But literary perfection is not what the book seeks to achieve. It is mostly full of anecdotes of great judges and lawyers. The book has presented his adulation for witty people and their ability to get out of difficult situations with great ease. An elaborate description of the righteous and reformative character of judges like Justice Krishna Iyer and Justice Subba Rao finds a lot of mention in this book. The readers get a personified view into the legal world which is like a breath of fresh air from the usual monotony associated with the legal field. The book also throws light on how it is essential for a lawyer to maintain healthy contacts with people. It can land one with great opportunities.

  • 6.Bleak House- By Charles Dickens

Bleak House, novel by British author Charles Dickens, published serially in 1852–53 and in book form in 1853 and considered to be among the author’s best work. Bleak House is the story of the Jarndyce family, who wait in vain to inherit money from a disputed fortune in the settlement of the extremely long-running lawsuit of Jarndyce and Jarndyce. The novel is pointedly critical of England’s Court of Chancery, in which cases could drag on through decades of convoluted legal maneuvering.

  • 7.The Trial by Franz Kafka

The Trial, German Der Prozess, novel by visionary German-language writer Franz Kafka, originally published posthumously in 1925. One of Kafka’s major works, and perhaps his most pessimistic, this surreal story of a young man who finds himself caught up in the mindless bureaucracy of the law has become synonymous with the anxieties and sense of alienation of the modern age and with an ordinary person’s struggle against an unreasoning and unreasonable authority. It is often considered to be an imaginative anticipation of totalitarianism.

The novel must be seen as an allegory or a parable. The sustained situation of Joseph K in The Trial stands in some way for man’s condition in the world itself. The novel must be apprehended as a poetic image. Though the contours of the allegory are clear and stable the significance there of has been variously interpreted. In Aristotelian terms the novel has a simple episodic plot. Unlike the traditional novel, The Trial, in fact, it will be no exaggeration to say, has no plot with its difficulties. The episodes in the novel are loosely put together and are not bound by cause-and-effect relationship. Similarly, there are many incidents that defy the logic of realism.

  • 8.The Firm by John Grisham

The Firm is easily John Grisham’s most popular novel, and deservingly so. The reading is smooth and the storyline is enthralling.

It opens with young lawyer, Mitch McDeere – just out of college – looking for a law firm to start with. As he is being interviewed by the firm that eventually hires him – it appears to be a job that is too good to be true – and of course, turns out nothing like the way he hoped. In the beginning, everything appears to be working out perfectly – but as time goes on, he starts to notice some unusual characteristics about his employers – who do not seem to understand the concept of privacy. Like a good John Grisham-type character, Mitch begins to snoop around – and yes, finds out about some former employees who were “accidentally” killed.

  • 9.Learning the Law by Glanville Williams

First published in 1945, Glanville Williams: Learning the Law has been introducing readers to the skills needed to study law for over half a century. It is a cherished favorite among readers and considered the classic must-have book for every student beginning to study the law. Now revised and updated for its 15th edition, Learning the Law is one of the most recommended titles for students beginning university law courses.

Gives an overview of the English legal system in a clear and accessible style.

Corrects common misunderstandings about the law.

Explains how to interpret statutes and look up points of law.

Enables readers to understand the outcome and implications of a case.

Introduces legal problems that readers are likely to come across and explains how best to tackle them.

Goes through legal research and how best to undertake it.

Offers advice on study methods and exam preparation to work effectively and manage time effectively.

Gives guidance on how to prepare for and take part in moots and mock trials.

  1. 10.Legal Eagles: Stories of the Top Seven Indian Lawyers by Indu Bhan

Harish Salve failed his CA exam twice. Mukul Rohatgi was unable to secure a place at the Law Faculty, Delhi University. Rohinton Nariman was trained to become a Parsi priest.

Legal Eagles examines the lives and times of India’s top seven lawyers who fought some of the country’s landmark courtroom battles. Tracing their journey from their childhood days to the present, the book highlights important milestones of their careers, their victories and failures, their influences, and their work ethic and role models, demonstrating that the path to success is paved with determination, grit, and challenges. Journalist Indu Bhan gives a ringside view of the most significant case handled by each of these lawyers, including the Vodafone tax case, Coalgate and the 2G spectrum controversy, among others.


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