A lawyer’s learning experience is never finished, even after earning that JD. Throughout your career, you should read as many essential books about the law and legal industry as possible to enhance your skill set.

No matter how busy you may be, try and find a few minutes each day to read a helpful book. If reading isn’t your thing anymore, most of these come in the form of audiobooks you can download and throw on your phone or listen to a podcast on your commute to the office or while you work from home.

Here are the 20 must-read books for lawyers:

Best Organization Books for Lawyers

1. How to Do More in Less Time: The Complete Guide to Increasing Your Productivity and Improving Your Bottom Line by Allison Shields and Daniel J Siegel

Written for lawyers in busy firms, this legal practice management and time management book help to restore and redirect focus onto urgent and high-priority tasks. Using these tips, you can ensure your day is more productive and efficient.

2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Uncover tips and ideas for solving personal and professional problems, providing a path for fair and moral living that allows any individual to adapt to changes and take advantage of opportunities. The website also provides helpful resources to continue your growth beyond the book.

3. Time Management for Attorneys by Shawn McNails and Mark Powers

With the threat of too many non-billable hours always hanging over your head, time management is a necessary skill for being a lawyer. Shawn McNalis and Mark Powers dive deep into how to hone your time-keeping skills in their book, “Time Management for Attorneys: A Lawyer’s Guide to Decreasing Stress, Eliminating Interruptions & Getting Home on Time.” 

Best Professional Development Books for Lawyers

4. How to Argue & Win Every Time: At Home, At Work, In Court, Everywhere, Everyday by Gerry Spence

While older, How to Argue & Win Every Time: At Home, At Work, In Court, Everywhere, Everyday by Gerry Spence is still relevant in today’s courtroom and society.  Learning to argue may seem limited to the courtroom, but it’s a useful skill that can be strategically applied in almost every aspect of our lives. This book gives the author’s Laws of Arguing and reminds every lawyer that they are capable of making the winning argument in any situation. 

5. Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges by Antonin Scalia and Bryan A. Garner

A testament to both speaking and writing persuasively — a necessary skill for any lawyer that wants to be successful.  The authors present their ideas about persuasion, yet do so in an entertaining way that keeps you turning the page. This book covers the skills needed in the courtroom, from writing legal briefs to oral arguments. 

6. MacCarthy on Cross-Examination by Terence MacCarthy

This book is a great read for any trial lawyer, as it goes into detail about how to manage any witness on the stand.  MacCarthy provides real-world examples to illustrate his three main points that run throughout the book. The ABA recommends this book and even offers it to members at a special rate.

7. A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr

The law is complex and takes many shapes — some good, others undesirable. This book uncovers the ugly side of the law and shows that justice can sometimes be elusive by delving into a true story of a difficult case against two corporate giants.  If you don’t think you have time to read 500 pages, there is also a movie by the same name, featuring John Travolta, Robert Duvall, and more.

8. One Hundred Days Before Trial by Steven Nathan Peskind

As an attorney of family law, it’s important to refresh yourself on trial preparation. Steven Nathan Peskind’s book, “One Hundred Days Before Trial: A Family Lawyer’s Guide to Preparation and Strategy,” offers a less stressful alternative to scrambling at the last minute before a court appearance. 

In his book, he teaches lawyers how to prepare for trial early and develop a plan that’s easy to maintain. It’s broken up into segments that act as guidelines following typical cases. Peskind advocates for thinking first and acting second with this book that’s sure to become one you refer to again and again.

9. Storytelling for Lawyers by Phillip Meyer

While research, strategic thinking, and problem-solving are crucial skills all lawyers must cultivate, no one can argue with the power good storytelling has in the courtroom. Philip Meyer’s classic book “Storytelling for Lawyers” teaches lawyers how they can better construct narratives that present their clients in the best light while making an emotional impact on judges and juries. 

This book is full of advice, examples, and strategies you can begin to use to add some life and color to the often dry facts of your cases.

Best Marketing Books for Lawyers

10. How to Become a Rainmaker: The Rules for Getting and Keeping Customers and Clients by Jeffrey J. Fox

This book is a must for your law library. Written for high-achieving lawyers, this book helps you discover the secrets to becoming indispensable to your clients and driving a steady flow of clients to your firm.

11. Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing by Harry Beckwith

Law firm marketing is not the forte of all lawyers, but it’s essential for a powerful and visible firm. This book helps you understand the value of your legal services and how to communicate that in your marketing to attract more leads and clients.

12. Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin

With so much competition, setting yourself apart is key to thriving in your market. The Purple Cow focuses on branding and brand differentiation to elevate your firm’s marketing strategy.

Pro Tip: Use the PracticePanther Law Firm Marketing Guide to gain the resources you need to develop a measurable and profitable marketing strategy at your firm.

Best Business Books for Lawyers

13. First Things First by Stephen Covey and Roger Merrill

The law is a high-performance atmosphere that can sap your personal life and disrupt your work-life balance. This book offers actionable tips and tools to get back to that state of balance and prioritize your time appropriately.

14. Solo By Choice by Carolyn Elefant

Most lawyers are hesitant to break out of their existing firms to start one of their own. In her book, “Solo by Choice: How to Be the Lawyer You Always Wanted to Be,” Carolyn Elefant gives you the courage and motivation to start your own practice. 

This book not only includes advice and experience from Elefant but also first-hand accounts from other lawyers who have taken the leap and found success on their own. You’ll also receive strategies for setting up your office, finding clients, and navigating this new chapter of your career.

15. Smart Collaboration by Heidi Gardner

While being a lawyer requires you to accumulate a vast array of knowledge, it’s impossible to be an expert on everything. Heidi Gardner’s book, “Smart Collaboration: How Professionals and Their Firms Succeed by Breaking Down Silos,” teaches you the best practices for adding multidisciplinary experts to your network. 

Gardner, a Harvard Business School professor, and former McKinsey consultant, divulges how law firms can earn higher margins, maintain a greater number of loyal clients, and better serve in the courtroom by collaborating with experts in outside fields.

There’s being a lawyer then there’s leading a law firm — Steven B. Levy teaches you how to do the latter. In “Legal Project Management: Control Costs, Meet Schedules, Manage Risks and Maintain Sanity,” Levy places all the headaches of running an effective legal department under the same umbrella of legal project management solutions. 

With this perspective in mind, he shows legal professionals how to properly manage commonly found issues so they can focus on what they do best: serving their clients in the courtroom.

In the realm of legal department and law firm management, you’ll find Susan Raridon Lambreth and David A. Rueff’s book “The Power of Legal Project Management: A Practical Handbook.” Not only is this guide full of practical action steps and legal project management strategies you can implement immediately, but it also includes insights from over 30 firms, lawyers, and consultants. Consider it your crash course in legal project management. 

18. The Happy Lawyer by Nancy Levit and Douglas O. Linder

Studies show that over half of lawyers feel frustrated with their careers, while 64% have anxiety and 31% are depressed. So it’s no wonder Nancy Levit and Douglas O. Linder felt the urgent need to address the mental health issues attorneys face in their book, “The Happy Lawyer: Making a Good Life in the Law.” 

In the book, Levit and Linder dig into the root causes of unhappy law careers and give candid advice for improving your legal career and finding real satisfaction in it. If you’ve been struggling with your work-life balance, this book is a must-read.

Pro Tip: A successful law firm is centered on a strong foundation — starting with a strategic business plan. Whether you’re just starting a practice or looking for a refresher, use this article to structure a law firm business plan, here.

Best Practice Management Books for Lawyers

19. The E-Myth Attorney by Michael Gerber

It’s no secret some law firms seem to be stuck in the past. Michael Gerber lays out the steps lawyers need to take to get their firms out of a rut and start operating in the 21st century. In “The E-Myth Attorney: Why Most Legal Practices Don’t Work and What to Do About It,” Gerber shows you how to look at your firm from a business perspective so you can grow and scale it. 

While it’s written for lawyers who are starting their own firms, the book also includes steps for optimizing the performance of an existing firm.

20. Successful Digital Transformation in Law Firms: A Question of Culture

Despite being a traditional industry, more and more law firms are embracing digital transformation and its power for improving productivity and efficiency. Whether you’re new to legal practice management software or looking for options, this book helps you evaluate your digital transformation strategy and provides practical advice on facilitating change.

Pro Tip: In the market for new law firm software? Use the PracticePanther Buyer’s Guide to Law Firm Software where you’ll learn how the right technology can streamline your process, saving you time and money while optimizing your staff utilization. 

Get to Reading!

This list of books offers something for every lawyer, from time management and productivity to running a law firm. If you’re looking for more, PracticePanther offers a full library of resources like videos, guides, and blogs about law firms as a business, marketing strategy, law firm finances, and law practice management software.

This blog was originally published in September 2019. Recent update: April 2023.

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