58 books directly related to lawyers 📚

All 58 lawyer books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary

By Juan Williams,

Book cover of Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary

Why this book?

Before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, there was Thurgood Marshall. As a young lawyer and head of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, Marshall spearheaded the civil rights organization’s slow but steady legal course in challenging and defeating segregation in the courts. Risking his life to represent black plaintiffs in the South and slowly building the legal precedents that led to Brown vs. Board of Education, Marshall had a profound effect on the course of history. This excellent biography takes you there.


The Lincoln Lawyer

By Michael Connelly,

Book cover of The Lincoln Lawyer

Why this book?

I always love thrillers that involve complex legalities and politics, especially when the author obviously has great experience and inside knowledge of how these things work. John Grisham is another example of a lawyer turned thriller writer, and I feel that both these writers genuinely know what they are talking about and are imparting fascinating information about how society's systems really operate. This adds so much authenticity to a book. I had to do a lot of research into the workings of Number Ten Downing Street in order to make my own thriller authentic. Fortunately I had the experience of having met a number of politicians over the years, which helped with my knowledge of how the government and the Prime Minister's office function.


The Undomestic Goddess

By Sophie Kinsella,

Book cover of The Undomestic Goddess

Why this book?

Corporate attorney Samantha Sweeting is on the cusp of partnership at her London law firm, until she makes a colossal mistake that costs a client millions of pounds. Dazed by the realization, she walks out of the office, boards a train, and ends up knocking at the door of a mansion to ask where the nearest hotel is, but she’s mistaken for the new housekeeper. This novel is one of the best examples of Kinsella’s trademark humor, where her heroines find themselves in crazy situations, and is why she is one of my favorite comedic authors when I’m looking for an escapist read. Her books are lighthearted and refreshing, and this one is a charming story with laugh-out-loud moments and romance. 


Forty Acres: A Thriller

By Dwayne Alexander Smith,

Book cover of Forty Acres: A Thriller

Why this book?

A Black attorney is forced to participate in a plot to bring back slavery—with a particular variation. What could go wrong? Taut writing and suspenseful storytelling carry the weight of history in Forty Acres. The concept is bold and audacious, and I never questioned a word of it. The execution is that impressive.


Streetfighter in the Courtroom: The People's Advocate

By Charles R. Garry,

Book cover of Streetfighter in the Courtroom: The People's Advocate

Why this book?

Charles Garry was a legendary Bay Area criminal defense lawyer from the 1940s through the 1980s, most famous for his aggressive courtroom tactics and for never losing a client to the death penalty. I was fascinated by Garry’s early cases that resulted in establishing a “diminished capacity” defense to murder in California. Garry’s reputation prompted the leadership of the Black Panther Party to reject calls for a black lawyer and instead turn to this white Lefty to represent their co-founder Huey Newton faced with execution for killing a white policeman. Streetfighter in the Courtroom proved a great source for me as I wrote two books on the Newton trial and the biography of Garry’s pioneering female co-counsel in the Newton trial, Fay Stender. 


Parrot Blues: A Neil Hamel Mystery

By Judith Van Gieson,

Book cover of Parrot Blues: A Neil Hamel Mystery

Why this book?

Divorce lawyer Neil Hamel always seems to do more PI work than law. In Parrot Blues (A Neil Hamel Mystery) by Judith Van Gieson, she tries to locate a missing woman—and an indigo parrot. Oddly, the husband seems more concerned about the bird than his wife, who may be on her way out of the marriage anyway. But with the parrot as the only witness, it’s a tough case to crack. There’s plenty of New Mexico history and vistas to satisfy, but I found the information about birds and smuggling to be eye-opening. Her relationship with the “Kid” adds to Neil’s character. She’s her own woman, doing things her way. That alone gained my respect.


The Unquiet Grave: A Novel

By Sharyn McCrumb,

Book cover of The Unquiet Grave: A Novel

Why this book?

Don’t you love that title?!? And the novel is based on a true story about a ghost who testified at her own trial. Seriously. Testimony from the Greenbrier Ghost was accepted in a court of law. I’m just sorry I didn’t get around to writing about this one before Sharyn did!


Blind Ambition: The White House Years

By John W. Dean,

Book cover of Blind Ambition: The White House Years

Why this book?

Dean's book is essential to understanding the psychodrama that led to the unraveling of the Watergate conspiracy. An ambitious lawyer picked to serve as White House counsel at the age of thirty-one, Dean feared that he was being set up to take the blame for Watergate. He was the first Nixon aide to appreciate the legal perils of the cover-up and the risks he was being asked to run. In order to save himself, he had to exit the conspiracy, betraying the president who was relying on him to throw a blanket over the scandal. In this 1976 memoir, Dean provides a candid account of his state of mind as he led a double life - Nixon loyalist by day, prosecution informant by night. Juggling the conflicting pressures, he began drinking ever more heavily, leading to a crisis in his marriage that provides a dramatic personal counterpoint to the crisis in the White House.


Representing the Race: The Creation of the Civil Rights Lawyer

By Kenneth W. Mack,

Book cover of Representing the Race: The Creation of the Civil Rights Lawyer

Why this book?

Kenneth Mack, a professor at Harvard Law School, has chronicled the lives and careers of a series of African American lawyers, most totally unknown to white America, who, although forced to ply their trade in a legal system that was totally white and aggressively unwelcoming, managed to permanently impact American jurisprudence. Some, like Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall’s mentor, and the founder of the prestigious Howard University Law School, saw their impact ripple out nationally; others, merely by demonstrating competence and dedication, fought bigotry on a more local scale. Each of these men and women was forced to navigate between loyalty to their cause and a willingness to adopt the demeanor and professional skills of their adversaries in order to succeed, leaving them distrusted on both sides of the racial divide. Their willingness to cut themselves adrift, however, set the stage for the great civil rights battles of the second half of the twentieth century, and their impact on American history should not be overlooked.


The Schirmer Inheritance

By Eric Ambler,

Book cover of The Schirmer Inheritance

Why this book?

A World War II bomber pilot returns home thoroughly determined to have no more excitement in his life. He settles down in a quiet wills-and-trusts practice. In a dusty file about an unclaimed estate, he sees that a missing heir may be living in Europe. Searching for this heir, he is pulled into Cold War politics, kidnaped, and dragged into Communist Albania, where his fate becomes an international incident. The law overtakes George in a thoroughly believable way; it is an example of why readers fear the law, which may at any moment demand that we sacrifice our comfort, our place in society, and even our very lives.


Pride and Premeditation

By Tirzah Price,

Book cover of Pride and Premeditation

Why this book?

If you like your mysteries paired with retold classics—think Jane Austen meets Agatha Christie for tea—I highly recommend this one! Price superbly captured the essence of Austen's characters and made them all her own. Instead of Bingley's purchase of Netherfield starting the story, he’s accused of murdering his brother-in-law. Quick-witted and resourceful Lizzie Bennet is eager to prove her worth as a solicitor in her father's barrister office and takes on the case to the prideful Darcy's dismay. Collins' character is just as cringy, and charming Wickham is a Bow Street Runner, helping Lizzie on her case. (You want him to be good! Just this once, Wickham!)


Blindfolded Innocence

By Alessandra Torre,

Book cover of Blindfolded Innocence

Why this book?

Alessandra Torre (in my opinion) is at her best when writing sexy romance. Julia is an ambitious law intern who, on her first day at work, is warned to keep away from sexy, alpha Brad de Luca. The writing is fast-paced, addictive, and seduced me into barrelling straight into book 2 in the series. I particularly loved the massage scene involving Julia, which juxtaposed into a scene with Brad –illicit tension heaven! 


Negotiation Essentials for Lawyers

By Andrea Kupfer Schneider (editor), Chris Honeyman (editor),

Book cover of Negotiation Essentials for Lawyers

Why this book?

This book provides good crisp and short distillations of what the field of negotiation theory and practice offers for practical advice in legal negotiation settings. It covers deception and candor, information sharing issues, cultural and communication issues in negotiation, dealing with clients and others, the new media of online and email negotiations, and particular issues relating to different kinds of negotiating relationships and contexts. Lots of useful advice for the practical negotiator, as well as for high-level diplomatic and even hostage negotiations. Very useful for its specificity on a range of issues. Useful even for non-lawyers!


The Woman in Black

By Susan Hill,

Book cover of The Woman in Black

Why this book?

The British Isles seem to lend themselves to a peculiar brand of horror, not least because of the often dark weather and a blood-soaked history. The Woman in Black is short, beautifully narrated, and utterly chilling. This rates as my all-time favourite, possibly due to its subtlety and creeping suspense, but ultimately the absolutely horrific impact of the ending. Set in the wild fens of eastern England, a young solicitor must wrap up the affairs of a deceased woman who lived in a solitary house, accessible only when the tide has ebbed sufficiently to leave a mud flat. Not of an especially nervous disposition, he is somewhat surprised when overnight it sounds as if there’s been a terrible accident outside. He stumbles out into the fog, ankle-deep in water… Oh, the chilling atmosphere is a masterpiece on par with M. R. James.

I admire the skill of the pace and prose, the calm matter-of-fact way the story is told, but most of all, the young man’s awakening to the existence of the dark. The film totally missed the shock of that… the fact he would never recover from what happened later, after he returned, which confirmed his worst nightmare. Superb…      


Scoundrels in Law: The Trials of Howe and Hummel, Lawyers to the Gangsters, Cops, Starlets, and Rakes Who Made the Gilded Age

By Cait N. Murphy,

Book cover of Scoundrels in Law: The Trials of Howe and Hummel, Lawyers to the Gangsters, Cops, Starlets, and Rakes Who Made the Gilded Age

Why this book?

Shakespeare wanted to kill all the lawyers, and this book will give you a reason to. On second thought, be glad that these two roguish lawyers, William Howe and Abe Hummel, lived to fill this book with colorful stories of the criminal underworld in late nineteenth-century New York and how the crooks got away with it. Howe, a flamboyant, heavily bejeweled (and heavy) trial lawyer, could reduce juries to tears, while his gnomish partner, Abe Hummel, counted P. T. Barnum, Buffalo Bill Cody, and other celebrity hucksters among his clients. Between them, Howe and Hummel were in on almost every major criminal trial of their era, sometimes winning, sometimes losing, but always leaving behind a trail of crookedness that would make even the shadiest of today’s lawyers blush.


Bootlegger's Daughter

By Margaret Maron,

Book cover of Bootlegger's Daughter

Why this book?

I love this book for many reasons—its rural Southern setting, its lawyer/judge protagonist Deborah Knott, its twisty mystery. But I was particularly intrigued when author Margaret Maron told me that the spark for the book was a real unsolved murder near her North Carolina home. I wrote about the real case when it was finally solved in Triangle True Crime, but Margaret’s version of what might have happened is so much more interesting.


Beyond Winning: Negotiating to Create Value in Deals and Disputes

By Robert H. Mnookin, Scott R Peppet, Andrew S Tulumello

Book cover of Beyond Winning: Negotiating to Create Value in Deals and Disputes

Why this book?

While this book is written for lawyers, it is a must-read for anyone who is a professional negotiator. I love how this book stresses that traditional hard-bargaining negotiation tactics can lead to run. The book artfully makes the case that a lawyer should serve the client's interests rather than merely papering the deal or making sure the contract will win in court. I especially like the emphasis on the need to shift from conflict to collaboration and how Mnookin and his co-authors focus on not just negotiating the deal – but how to make a deal sustainable so it avoids a Pyrrhic victory. I was also glad to see the chapter on professional ethics – something many negotiators often overlook in their quest to get the best deal. 


Lawyers as Peacemakers: Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law

By J. Kim Wright,

Book cover of Lawyers as Peacemakers: Practicing Holistic, Problem-Solving Law

Why this book?

In contracting, lawyers are often the heavies that swoop in at the end of the negotiation with risk-averse and protective conditions that can delay or derail a strategic business relationship. This book is the top pick on my list because Kim Wright advocates for organizations (and lawyers themselves!) to make the shift to a holistic, problem-solving approach. I am a strong believer in a kinder, gentler legal involvement at the beginning of the negotiation designed to help contracting parties solve problems and issues jointly. Wright eloquently makes her case on why the shift is needed. After you read this book you too will see the need for the shift of focus away from traditional contracting paradigms.


Lawyers as Changemakers: The Global Integrative Law Movement

By J. Kim Wright,

Book cover of Lawyers as Changemakers: The Global Integrative Law Movement

Why this book?

Taken in tandem with Lawyers as Peacemakers, Wright’s books chart a much-needed approach to legal’s involvement in contracting. She advocates for Integrative Law, which puts lawyers at the table with the other negotiators as a contract is developed. This is important because often lawyers come late to the party or with contractual guardrails and Ts and Cs that should have been addressed at the start of (and during) the negotiation. When lawyers are not integrated as changemakers to support the business, you will likely find yourself in a series of back and forth red-line hell that causes frustration and deteriorates trust with your business partner. I challenge you to take Wright’s sage advice to rethink how lawyers can be changemakers. 


Anatomy of a Scandal

By Sarah Vaughan,

Book cover of Anatomy of a Scandal

Why this book?

This book is now a huge Netflix series but I’ve noticed the film version has attracted some negative press reviews. In my opinion, they’re missing the point – these characters are posh and entitled. They do outrageous things and get away with them. They are meant to be unpleasant. The sheer awfulness of what happens, as well as page-turner ingredients, provides themes for book clubs to discuss. When the book came out, the #metoo movement was at its height. The novel vividly shows the lasting impact on a woman's self-esteem when she’s preyed on by a powerful man. The characters are obnoxious but convincing. Readers get a fascinating, fictional glimpse inside the heads of men whose sense of entitlement is so embedded it skews their whole perspective on the world. Like the characters or loathe them, a book club could spend hours discussing how privilege bends a life and erases self-awareness.  


The Step Between

By Penny Mickelbury,

Book cover of The Step Between

Why this book?

Someone is trying to kill Carole Ann. As a Washington DC lawyer, Carole Ann embraces the challenge of working in DC’s competitive fast-paced environment, but that business has placed a bullseye on her back. She must figure out why while balancing work and her personal life. I appreciated how the author created a multidimensional woman that didn’t measure success by her romantic entanglements. 


The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality

By Katharina Pistor,

Book cover of The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality

Why this book?

This book is important for all those interested in the systemic change needed to reduce inequality and alter the current socio-economic status quo. Pistor explains how the structure of modern legal frameworks and practice of law has led to an entrenched and limited distribution of capital and financial opportunity. It is not a technical book but very readable and for those working in this area like myself, it is a very important book.


Biglaw

By Lindsay Cameron,

Book cover of Biglaw

Why this book?

Mackenzie Corbett is an ambitious second-year corporate associate at a Manhattan law firm; but when she finds herself being thrown under the bus in an investigation that could ruin her career, she has to ask herself if life in Biglaw is worth it? This book is part exposé, part life-affirming self-discovery. Cameron made me laugh out loud at the absurdity of associate life (it’s totally crazy and yet so real) and at her depictions of the various intense personalities at the fictional firm. This book is a funny, fast-paced rollercoaster ride that ultimately asks, What does success mean? I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for an entertaining read with a smart, witty heroine (or someone questioning their career choice). 


The Love Wars

By L. Alison Heller,

Book cover of The Love Wars

Why this book?

Molly Grant is a divorce attorney at a large Manhattan firm representing wealthy and demanding clients. While the book is entertaining in its descriptions of ridiculous office politics and insufferable clients, what made me fall in love with it was the main character. Molly is sharp and funny, and in the beginning of the book, she seems like the typical associate playing the game to get ahead, putting in the hours and stroking egos while also keeping her head down. But when the ex-wife of a rich, ruthless media mogul seeks help because her husband is alienating her children against her, Molly has to choose between her own career advancement or listening to her conscience to use her lawyer powers for good. This is an engrossing, entertaining, feel-good read. 


Rage of Angels

By Sidney Sheldon,

Book cover of Rage of Angels

Why this book?

Rage of Angels introduced me to kidnap crime thrillers and inspired me to write my own. I fell in love with Sidney Sheldon after reading this and went on to devour every book he wrote. Sheldon’s character development is brilliant. If you don’t fall in love with and root for Rage of Angel’s Jennifer Parker, then you’re not human. This is a page-turning whirlwind of a tale. You’ll question her morals, your morals, and you’ll ask yourself what you would do in her situation. You’ll love characters you shouldn’t and exhaust yourself trying to figure out Sheldon’s next twist. Totally worth the read. It’s the only 500-page book I didn’t want to end.


The Man in the Wooden Hat

By Jane Gardam,

Book cover of The Man in the Wooden Hat

Why this book?

Don’t worry that this novel is part of a trilogy; it can easily be enjoyed on its own. The Man in the Wooden Hat tells the story of the courtship and marriage of a man referred to as “Old Filth” (stands for “failed in London, try Hong Kong”) and his wife, Betty. Gardam’s hilarious look at ex-pat life in Hong Kong and elsewhere is wildly entertaining and her minor characters are as quirky and surprising as Betty and Old Filth. PS: The surprising reveal at the end makes this portrait all the more delicious. 


Gods Go Begging

By Alfredo Vea,

Book cover of Gods Go Begging

Why this book?

Vea’s novel is as ambitious, complex, and surreal a story about the horrors of Vietnam (and post-Vietnam) ever written. A Vietnam vet himself, Vea traces the efforts of several men and women who try to purge their Vietnam ghosts while finding a way to curtail the violence convulsing contemporary America. Jesse Pasadoble, the protagonist, is a defense attorney in San Francisco, hardened and embittered by his Vietnam experience. While his journey toward redemption, as well as that of an Army chaplain who goes AWOL in Vietnam, may require a “willing suspension of disbelief,” Vea skillfully pulls it off, helped in no small way by the many allusions to jazz, specifically the inimitable works of John Coltrane and Charles Mingus. 


Lamentation

By C.J. Sansom,

Book cover of Lamentation

Why this book?

Part of Sansom’s acclaimed Shardlake series, this novel takes a different look at Henry’s last wife, Katherine Parr. It is a thrilling dive into the plots of Parr’s life and her seditious writings from the perspective of Sansom’s eponymous fictional investigator. Detailed and enthralling we are transported to the streets of Tudor London, to explore the shadowy corners where danger lurks. 


A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life

By John Kralik,

Book cover of A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life

Why this book?

A lawyer who finds himself going through very rough times in his life, both financially and emotionally. At that point, he started to choose selflessness as a way of life and his road started to go down a dangerous path. He regains his balance thanks to gratitude. He starts writing gratitude messages, small letters just to say thank you. The more he writes the more he feels better and suddenly his life changes. Now he's successful in business and love.

I can’t recommend enough writing thank you messages during your days to people you know, clients, and everyone that comes to your mind. And I thank the author for this precious idea.


Open and Shut (The Andy Carpenter Series, 1)

By David Rosenfelt,

Book cover of Open and Shut (The Andy Carpenter Series, 1)

Why this book?

I love this series that features Andy Carpenter, a defense attorney, and his golden retriever Tara. I enjoy the realistic and procedural portions of the book concerning the legal case, this one involving Andy’s father from years ago. Andy’s dad was the District Attorney on Andy’s current death row appeals case, which creates an interesting conflict—the first of many in this exciting case. I think I’m drawn to it because of Andy’s connection to his dad. My dad and I bat around ideas when I’m writing my mysteries, since he’s been in law enforcement for decades. 

I also like the subplot of learning more about Andy, his history, and family, since it makes his character feel more realistic and the addition of his golden retriever makes it a must-read for me. 


The Prosecutor

By Nazir Afzal,

Book cover of The Prosecutor

Why this book?

We’ve all seen those movies about courtroom battles and a determined prosecutor, speaking up for innocent victims. In Nazir Afzal we have the real deal. Coming from a working-class, migrant family, he knows what it’s like for the powerless. As Chief Prosecutor he won milestone cases involving criminals, honour killings, domestic violence, human trafficking, and many others. This engrossing book takes us behind the scenes. Nazir Afzal is recognised as a man who changed British justice for the better. 


Iran Awakening: One Woman's Journey to Reclaim Her Life and Country

By Shirin Ebadi, Azadeh Moaveni,

Book cover of Iran Awakening: One Woman's Journey to Reclaim Her Life and Country

Why this book?

In 2003, Ebadi was the first Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her pioneering advocacy for human rights, including in her native Iran. I love her voice in this memoir: perceptive, funny, and very serious when it comes to making the case that human rights can flourish within Islam. You can feel both her passion and her bravery against the crushing authoritarianism that continues to strangle this vibrant country and culture. She also makes the case that the women of Iran will be the ones who finally prevail in the struggle for human rights. 


Nobody's Victim: Fighting Psychos, Stalkers, Pervs, and Trolls

By Carrie Goldberg,

Book cover of Nobody's Victim: Fighting Psychos, Stalkers, Pervs, and Trolls

Why this book?

We read this biography/call to arms while we were researching our book. There’s very little written about revenge pornography and cyber crimes in this modern age. And Carrie Goldberg’s memoir/rallying cry for privacy justice was an eye-opener. The crimes committed almost exclusively by men online are 1,000 times worse than we initially assumed. But thanks to Goldberg’s funny, brisk, and foul-mouthed prose, you’re able to absorb the information without throwing up or screaming at the book. An impressive lawyer, survivor, and writer. 


Sustained

By Emma Chase,

Book cover of Sustained

Why this book?

I’ll be honest, I didn’t like Jake at first. But, trusting the author to make it all worthwhile, I hung in there, anticipating watching the hero fall flat on his face. It was worth the wait. Chelsea has custody of her nieces and nephews—six of them—and Jake is a lawyer who undergoes a massive transformation from Dude Bro to Father Figure.


Nineteen Minutes

By Jodi Picoult,

Book cover of Nineteen Minutes

Why this book?

I’m a huge Jodi Picoult fan. When I’m hungry for a good read, I grab one of her books because I know a juicy story and flawlessly sweet writing await me. But Nineteen Minutes? It’s like a forbidden dessert, my favorite of all her novels. The opening grabs you and won’t let go. There’s a school shooting, lots of kids, parents, and an investigator who allows his niece to paint his toenails. (Picoult creates characters who quietly charm you.) The most thought-provoking suspense novel I’ve ever read, Nineteen Minutes describes the multi-faceted inner workings of teenagers’ minds and the fruitless attempts of parents (and investigators with pink toes) to understand them. If, like me, you like solving puzzles and enjoy stories with lots of moving parts, this one’s for you. 


Tombland

By C.J. Sansom,

Book cover of Tombland

Why this book?

At the time of writing, this is believed to be the last in the Shardlake novels and I, for one, am already missing them. I have loved every one of the books in the series, following the adventures of the lawyer/crime solver Matthew Shardlake and his assistants Jack Barak and Nicholas Overton. The author has a real way of bringing the Tudor age to life and as a reader you are instantly transported into the 1500s with Sansom’s descriptive and quite brilliant writing. As a general recommendation I could have picked any of the Shardlake novels but under the heading of books that made me want to know more, the reason I have selected Tombland specifically as one of my top 5 books is the author’s focus on the peasants’ revolt in Norfolk in 1549.

The rebellion was led by a man named Robert Kett and although I had vaguely heard the name, I knew little about him or the reasons for the revolt. And it is this revolt that not just forms the backdrop to the latest Shardlake murder investigation but throws the protagonist and his friends right into the heart of the action. The author even includes a Historical Essay in the book on reimagining Kett's Rebellion and long after I had reached the end of the book and was mourning the end of Shardlake (not literally, he lives on, as I do in the hope Sansom will write about him again), I was off into the internet reading all about Kett and the uprising.


A Man in Full

By Tom Wolfe,

Book cover of A Man in Full

Why this book?

Read this – or anything by Wolfe, the writer who has had the most influence on me. Why? Because Tom Wolfe was what I aspire to be, a joyful explainer. He dropped himself into worlds he knew nothing about and let their most engaged players just talk. He came back with deep-inside tours of lives we would otherwise never know. In The Molecule of More, my co-author Dan Lieberman (one of the great psychiatric minds in America, I say) gave me a thrilling tour of neuroscience, leveraging my own interests as a playwright and a trained physicist so we could combine our knowledges into something that first passed the test of fascinating us as old friends. Wolfe does all that by himself, and magnificently in this tour of 1990s America.


The Shape of Water

By Andrea Camilleri, Stephen Sartarelli (translator),

Book cover of The Shape of Water

Why this book?

Until his death in 2019, the Sicilian-born Camilleri was the king of the Italian mystery novel scene. His detective, Inspector Montalbano, became a beloved fixture in Italy thanks to a TV series based on his adventures. I love Montalbano because a) he’s a decent man trapped in an often-corrupt Sicilian environment, and b) boy, does he love great Italian food! The series is 28 books long; it’s worth starting with the first one to see if you love this world.



Mistaken Identity: A Rosato & Associates Novel

By Lisa Scottoline,

Book cover of Mistaken Identity: A Rosato & Associates Novel

Why this book?

Scottoline, a former big-firm litigator, has created Benny Rosato, the founder of an all-female firm of defense lawyers, as the master of the world of courts and jails. In Mistaken Identity, however, Benny defends an unexpected client—“Alice Connoly,” who is Rosato herself, a double claiming to be a long-lost twin. What follows raises the question of why (as the mysterious defendant asks) Alice is in jail while Rosato is free, secure, and successful. In a way, Mistaken Identity is a feminist version of The Trial--a fever dream of that same hellish world that Kafka saw beneath K.’s feet--the law, supernatural and inhuman, that waits to devour the innocent and the guilty alike.


Thinking Like a Lawyer: A Framework for Teaching Critical Thinking to All Students

By Colin Seale,

Book cover of Thinking Like a Lawyer: A Framework for Teaching Critical Thinking to All Students

Why this book?

At first glance, you might not see why we think it’s a book for parents that addresses anti-racism. But digging deeper, you’ll see that one of the things we advocate for is developing the skills for introspection - to ask ourselves the tough questions, to challenge our own beliefs and assumptions, and think critically about the information that constantly surrounds us. Those skills are a fundamental part of our own anti-racism practices. Unfortunately, critical thinking is not a skill that’s been well taught, or evenly taught, throughout the schools in our country - so it’s important for each of us to help ourselves, and our children, learn this most foundational skill to succeed in the 21st century.


After Story

By Larissa Behrendt,

Book cover of After Story

Why this book?

If you’re a lover of women’s literature – Austen, the Brontës, Woolf – you are in for an utterly original treat with this mother-daughter odyssey. Australian Indigenous lawyer, Jasmine, takes her mother, Della, to England, wanting to indulge her passion for literature with a tour of significant dead-white-author sites. But what is really found along the way are the rich veins of ancient stories and the essential power we all possess: listening. This is a moving and intricate portrait of intergenerational, post-colonial trauma that examines whose stories get to be told and whose need to be told. For me, as an Australian and a lover of English literature, After Story is a slice of necessary truth-telling, which I predict will become an Australian classic of the future. 


Stockholm Delete

By Jens Lapidus,

Book cover of Stockholm Delete

Why this book?

Emilie Jansson, a newly made partner at a law firm in Stockholm, is asked to collaborate with Teddy, the firm’s investigator. Teddy is an ex-con trying to stay out of trouble. A body is discovered after what looks like an attempted robbery. An injured man found at the scene becomes the prime suspect. Emilie takes on the role of his defence lawyer. But then the trail leads back to Teddy...

Jens Lapidus used to work as a criminal defence lawyer at a law firm representing some of the most infamous criminals in Sweden. His background gives him unusual insight and his books feel very exciting and fresh.


The Husbands

By Chandler Baker,

Book cover of The Husbands

Why this book?

A woman moves to a new neighborhood where all the wives are high-powered, and their husbands are… suspiciously helpful. How come none of them seem to mind doing all the chores?? And how much will our heroine — whose own husband isn’t pulling his weight — be willing to give up to join her successful neighbors? Baker’s novel is full of Stepford Wives-esque fun.


Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

By Bryan Stevenson,

Book cover of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Why this book?

Bryan Stevenson’s memoir documents his life devoted to righting wrongs in the American criminal justice system. He has saved innocent people from being executed. He has created the only living museum that chronicles lynchings in America. This is a powerful account of Stevenson’s awakening to miscarriages of justice at a time when mass incarceration began to overtake the United States. I have known Bryan for more than two decades. He is perhaps one of the most dedicated persons in the nation when it comes to correcting injustice.


Rumpole of the Bailey

By John Clifford Mortimer,

Book cover of Rumpole of the Bailey

Why this book?

I first met Rumpole, the Old Bailey Hack, as he called himself, on the PBS Masterpiece series. John Mortimer’s books about the curmudgeonly old barrister are even more delightful. As a former trial attorney, I love how the collections of short stories in his books give me a peek inside the British legal system—and how they present plenty of puzzles to solve, filled with irascible good wit. 


A Time to Kill

By John Grisham,

Book cover of A Time to Kill

Why this book?

White supremacy. Is this genre literature or a witty comment on racism? You can guess the answer. It's both. Grisham puts a lawyer at the center of this story about the murder of a Black girl and her father, who avenges her death. What follows is not just a courtroom drama but the chaos and tragedy of a small town in the American South that is far from having thrown off the shackles of the American slave trade. When I picked up A Time to Kill, I was looking for a suspenseful story, but I got so much more. For example, insight into white privilege. What more could you ask for?


The Horse Dancer

By Jojo Moyes,

Book cover of The Horse Dancer

Why this book?

Jojo Moyes is better known for writing romance than pony books, but The Horse Dancer has all the ingredients for the perfect pony book: a troubled but talented teen, a beautiful horse, and a dream of being the best.

Fourteen-year-old Sarah wants to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps and join Le Cadre Noir French classical riding academy, but her hopes are dashed when her beloved grandfather falls gravely ill.

Suddenly alone in the world, Sarah is taken in by lawyer Natasha and her estranged husband Mac. Unfortunately, she omits to tell them she is the owner of a thoroughbred dancing horse called Boo. 

When Sarah rashly decides to run away to France with Boo I couldn’t help rooting for the pair.

This is a story of courage and determination that had me gripped from the first page to the last.


Just Saying: An absolutely perfect and feel good romantic comedy

By Sophie Ranald,

Book cover of Just Saying: An absolutely perfect and feel good romantic comedy

Why this book?

Alice Carlisle is an intellectual property attorney trainee in London about to secure full-time employment at her firm. But when the head of the department is suspended (the circumstances of which are revealed throughout the story), HR informs Alice that there will be a hiring freeze. Needing money, she takes on a temporary job at her local pub and her boyfriend’s ex moves in to help with the rent. Ouch! I felt so bad for Alice—to work so hard at something and then have it fall apart through no fault of her own. This is a smart, page-turning, relatable read that I devoured in an afternoon, and I loved the message that sometimes a detour takes you right where you need to be.


Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray

By Rosalind Rosenberg,

Book cover of Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray

Why this book?

People often ask me who is the most important yet least known woman in U.S. history. Of course I am partial to Helen Hamilton Gardener, the woman whose biography I wrote, but overall I think the woman we all need to know about is Pauli Murray. We love to love RBG, but RBG credited Pauli Murray with some of her most effective legal strategies. In fact, Murry was the legal mastermind behind landmark civil rights and sex discrimination cases, including Brown v. Board of Education. And she bravely lived her life on her own terms (as what today we would likely understand as a trans man). Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, I think we could use a refresher on the 14th Amendment and how Americans, none more so than Pauli Murray, have used it to champion equality for all. 


Family Properties: How the Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America

By Beryl Satter,

Book cover of Family Properties: How the Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America

Why this book?

Purposefully racist policies in major Northern cities often focused on the financial exploitation of upwardly-aspiring African Americans, with government-endorsed predatory lending practices impoverishing—and often leaving homeless—thousands of Black home-buying families. “Redlining” may be a familiar word, but the actual mechanisms of financial discrimination require a penetrating, clear-eyed examination, and Beryl Satter’s powerful account of how last-resort ‘contract buying’ left newly-arrived Black residents in the West Side Chicago neighborhood of Lawndale vulnerable to being fleeced by racist manipulators is one of the most important books ever written about the Black freedom struggle in the north.


Last Rituals: A Novel of Suspense

By Yrsa Sigurðardóttir,

Book cover of Last Rituals: A Novel of Suspense

Why this book?

This is a modern Icelandic Noir crime novel about a divorced personal attorney in Reykjavik who gets sucked into a horrific mystery at a university. It delves into Icelandic myth and Medieval black magic (the infamous Necropants make an appearance). I think it's very revealing about the frontier mentality that in some ways still persists in Iceland, and which saturates the Sagas. It's got a great sense of place and offers a nice cross-section of life in a modern Nordic country.

Also, it's really entertaining, and a little bit grotesque.


Vernon Can Read!: A Memoir

By Vernon Jordan Jr., Annette Gordon-Reed,

Book cover of Vernon Can Read!: A Memoir

Why this book?

Like Andrew Young, Vernon Jordan was another generous, legendary person who I treasured interviewing for Nine Days. Sadly, he passed away this year, but left us a captivating account of his life, from childhood in Georgia to being a young lawyer under Donald Hollowell facing life and death stakes to surviving an assassination attempt. Jordan was a masterful orchestrator of change who appreciated his mentors and taught us all through this book.


Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice

By Bryan Stevenson,

Book cover of Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice

Why this book?

A gripping collage of moving stories of the poor, the wrongly convicted, and the marginalized, and Bryan Stevenson’s efforts to fight for their freedom. In this compelling Young Adult edition, Stevenson engages readers with his riveting storytelling. The author, who won relief for dozens of condemned prisoners, makes complicated legal issues understandable for young people. I picked this book because I believe every student should read it to understand the American judicial system. Many will find Bryan Stevenson so inspiring that they want to follow in Stevenson’s footsteps.


Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America

By Beryl Satter,

Book cover of Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America

Why this book?

The key to Beryl Satter’s book lies in her title, Family Properties. The book grew out of a daughter’s desire to know her father, who died when she was young. Satter peels back layers of her Jewish father’s fierce advocacy for Blacks in Chicago, his relentless effort to uncover and hold accountable the white men (both Jewish and Christian) who were profiting from the housing segregation that made Blacks desperate to move out of the ghetto. Satter follows her father’s ultimate failure to prevent the exploitation of Blacks. She also reveals the anger directed at him by many Jews who were on the other side. Satter writes with empathy, showing her father’s complexity (he was a landlord as well as a lawyer), and resists the impulse to judge him. 


In Five Years

By Rebecca Serle,

Book cover of In Five Years

Why this book?

In full disclosure, I don’t normally pick up mid-20-year-old protagonist books; I’m in my 50’s. I don’t normally relate. In this case, however, I related. It was a good book, solid, entertaining and recommendable.

And here’s where it gets weird – not the book, the fact that the author wrote my life, sort of. When the young protagonist finds her friend dying from cancer, she cracks, and the emotions, thoughts, experiences are so relatable; hauntingly so, I felt as if she were a friend of mine going through my cancer story. This book takes a time travel twist, but don’t let it throw you, it’s worth the read.


The Greatest Player Who Never Lived: A Golf Story

By J. Michael Veron,

Book cover of The Greatest Player Who Never Lived: A Golf Story

Why this book?

J. Michael Veron is a trial lawyer and avid golfer who has written a trilogy of legal thrillers (he’s been called the John Grisham of golf) that all have a strong golf theme. The Greatest Player was the first, featuring a summer intern at an Atlanta law firm who finds an old file of correspondence between the legendary Bobby Jones (who was, when not winning most of the golf tournaments between 1920 and 1930, when he retired from tournament golf, an Atlanta attorney) and a fictional teen-aged golf prodigy named Beau Stedman.

There’s a murder mystery and a court case and a lot of golf from the Golden Age of the sport.


The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir

By Alex Marzano-Lesnevich,

Book cover of The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir

Why this book?

Marzano-Lesnevich was a Harvard law student working a summer internship when they encountered the case of Ricky Langley, who was being held on death row in Louisiana. That case opened up a personal wound for the author, and they vividly and powerfully intertwine the two stories. The author uses speculation and imagination to attempt to fill in blanks that are unanswerable. I recently taught this book in a seminar at Columbia on creative license in nonfiction, and my students were floored. 


The Quiet Game

By Greg Iles,

Book cover of The Quiet Game

Why this book?

The Quiet Game introduces a troubled Penn Cage, who returns with his daughter to his hometown of Natchez, Mississippi when his father lands in trouble. For Penn, family is sacrosanct. Iles uses Natchez brilliantly to support characterization, atmosphere, and plot. Events unfold quickly in a series of twists and turns that thrill the reader and severely test Penn as he struggles to unearth his father’s connection to a horrific Natchez mystery that the town is determined to keep buried. I admire how Penn battles relentlessly on behalf of his father, doggedly pursues a truth that frightens him, and protects his daughter in the face of growing condemnation and danger. He hews to his moral compass even when it would be expedient to abandon it.