To give yourself the greatest chance to succeed, best to stand on the backs of giants. Lawyering, business, and recruitment is hard enough without having to reinvent the wheel and come up with new ideas from scratch when other people have already gone through the exercise and wrote their conclusions down for your benefit.
There are many books out there, these are but some of my personal favourites to help you succeed on your lawyering journey. You may be surprised to see so many books about business and are think to yourself “I don’t need to read those books, all I want to be as a lawyer (fill in the blanks for what type).” However, businesses is an integral part of being a lawyer as you need to sell your services and make the case that certain expenses are worthwhile.
1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
A classic which has been in print for more than 90 years. This is the playbook on how to be liked and to be listened to. Few things are more important than that this and it will give you a hand to deal with office politics and clients. The chapter on cover letter writing is also very useful.
2. Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style, 4th Edition by Bryan Garner
I believe that the biggest barrier to starting out as a lawyer, articling student or student-at-law is form. What should a research memo look like? What should a demand letter look like? This book goes over general writing principles and it has several chapters on how to write certain types of legal documents which is pure gold when you’re starting out or writing something new for the first time.
3. Typography for Lawyers: Essential Tools for Polished & Persuasive Documents, 2nd edition by Matthew Butterick
Lawyers are the most prolific writers in North America. If your document is important and expensive to create, it should look like it. This book is written in a clear and simple style, and makes for a surprisingly good read considering its subject. Although the part on font selection is a little hard to implement at the office, the rest is extremely interesting. The discussion about CV formatting is very helpful. The book is not readily available in Canada (can be purchased more reasonably from the US Amazon.com), but it has been put online by its author at typographyforlawyers.com.
4. The Personal MBA, 10th Anniversary Edition by Josh Kaufman
This is a down-to-earth book on major business concepts and principles to help you understand what your fellow lawyers and clients are talking about. If you feel like you want to work with businesses or start-ups, this book will give you a leg up by and teaching you the basics of business.
5. The Book of Business Wisdom: Classic Writings by the Legends of Commerce and Industry edited by Peter Krauss
This book contains a fantastic collection of writings and speeches from the greats of industry. Aside from helping you in business, it provides many talking points and insightful examples which could be used at the office, with clients or in court. If you are thinking about what book to bring with you to an interview, this is the one.
6. The Wealthy Barber: Everyone’s Common-Sense Guide to Becoming Financially Independent by David Chilton
This is one of the greatest personal finance books out there and will provide you with the tools to succeed financially as a lawyer independent of your salary. The right financial habits are the secrets to financial success and wealth, and this book will teach them to you. You should note that this is not The Wealthy Barber Returns which is its sequel and unfortunately not as good. The book is up-to-date with the exception of the section on how to invest. Mutual funds have been replaced by exchange traded funds (ETF’s). Millionaire Teacher (next book) explain best how to invest.
7. Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School by Andrew Halam
A perfect complement to The Wealthy Barber as it explains what type of products to invest in and how to actually make those investments.
8. The 5 A.M. Miracle: Dominate Your Day Before Breakfast by Jeff Sanders
Although I must admit that I don’t wake up at 5AM, this book is one of the best I’ve ever read on setting and achieving your goals whatever they may be. Reading this book led to the creation of this site which makes it worthy of this list.
9. A Notebook
Last but not least, get yourself a notebook so that you can keep a record of all of the interesting things which you learn while reading. This will help with memory retention and is a cool record of your thoughts at the time. I use a small (3.5″x5.5″) hardcover Moleskine unlined (blank) notebook. I write with a normal pencil for notes and in blue lead for quotes.
All of these books can be purchased using the below affiliate links. If you think that a book is too expensive (and some are), don’t be afraid to check out abebooks.com which has used copies of all of them at a fraction of the cost of a new copy. Previous editions are fine too; the content doesn’t really change much between editions. Think that a book is missing from this list, send me a quick line by email at email@example.com or use the Contact form. I always love hearing from readers.
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