Published July 20, 2023
It doesn’t matter if you’re a 1L or you’re about to enter your final year of law school, the summer is the perfect time to catch up on essential books for prospective and current law students. Whether they’re tried and tested publications or newly printed fresh from the presses, the path to becoming a well-versed and versatile lawyer begins and ends with how much—and how varied—your reading material is.
UB’s recommended reading list for admitted students is a fantastic place to start. Let’s jump into a few highlights of the summer reading list and see what some of our faculty have to say about their book recommendations.
If you’ve already got a few semesters of law school under your belt, you can skip right to the below list, but if you’re about to embark on your first year of law school, take a look at “How to Read a Legal Opinion” by Orin S. Kerr. This is a great resource to help new law students prepare for the first few weeks of class and start thinking about judicial opinions.
Ok, on to the list!
1. These Truths: A History of the United States by: Jill Lepore
Recommended by: Patrick J. Long, Lecturer in Law, Legal Analysis, Writing and Research
“The best one-volume history of the United States. Particularly valuable for any student who has not studied American history since high school. An understanding of U.S. history is critical during the first year of law school. For example, in Con Law, the Fourteenth Amendment makes no sense without a grasp of Reconstruction, and in Torts, negligence owes much of its existence to Westward Expansion.”
2. The Bramble Bush by: Karl Llewellyn
Recommended by: John Schlegal, University at Buffalo Distinguished Professor; Floyd H. and Hilda L. Hurst Faculty Scholar
Incoming law students have been using this book for years to prepare for what they will encounter in law school. This text takes readers inside the classroom like no other. Professor Schlegal had this to say about the book:
“It is quite old, but by comparing legal education then and legal education now, every student should feel more comfortable in their classroom in Buffalo and that might help. And it is the best introduction to jurisprudence ever written.”
“Both turn on obscure bits of Property Law and the writing is marvelous. The more good, serious writing a student reads the better their writing will become and the more effective fiction that a student reads the better that person will get at the crucial aspect of law that no one teaches — telling a good story.”
4. The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by: David Graeber; David Wengrow
Recommended by: Mateo Taussig-Rubbo, Professor; Director of J.S.D Program
“A great, sprawling book, that retells the story of American freedom, giving pride of place to indigenous peoples.”
5. Until We Reckon by: Danielle Sered
Recommended by: Anthony O’Rourke, Joseph W. Belluck and Laura L. Aswad Professor of Civil Justice; Director of the Advocacy Institute
Kirkus Reviews called this 2019’s ‘Best Book to Fight Racism and Xenophobia.’ Knowing about social injustices and how to combat them and correct them is crucial to a lawyer’s repertoire. Professor O’Rourke had this to say about his selection:
“Until We Reckon documents in a systematic and emotionally gripping way how alternatives to incarceration can rehabilitate offenders while at the same time healing the wounds of crime victims. It shows how alternatives to the carceral state may not only be more humane, but more effective in terms of what we expect prison to do.”
Don't forget to add a few of these selections to your summer reading list! Or better yet, head on over to the School of Law's full recommended summer reading list to pick out something that better suits your interests. You can never be too prepared when it comes to reading up on the varied areas of the legal world!