Best Career Books for Future Lawyers, Current Law Students, and Recent Law Graduates

As exam periods and applications creep to a near close (along with the year that was 2020), I figured one of the things that students and recent graduates could benefit from was some career resources to peruse over the holiday break.

(Please note that while this blog is primarily targeted towards Canadian practice, many of these books are targeted towards American practice. However, I know there are many American law students who also follow this blog, so A) They serve a purpose in their original form, and B) Still have great advice and information for Canadian students, even if some of the information provided isn't directly transferable to Canadian practice (I.E: One of the books I'm recommending has a chapter about what the practice of government law entails, but then goes on to talk about working with local senators, etc. Obviously not applicable on its face to Canadian law, but still has some great takeaways. Another example may be a chapter on military law, but then describing practicing military law in an American context. The titles and bureaucracy may be different, but what is expected of you on a broad level in a military legal context probably isn't.)

With the above caveat, I've split this post into four areas of literary recommendations. I will initially be posting the areas of literature covered, followed by photos of the books themselves so you'll be able to recognise them by cover, a blurb about the book itself, and links to both Canadian and US Amazon in order to order them. Some may be out of print and harder to find than others, but are well worth the search. So, without further ado...

The Literary Recommendations:

Legal Career Resources:

  1. Guerrilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams By Kimm Alayne Walton, J.D.

  2. Law Jobs: The Complete Guide By Andrew J. McClurg, Christine Coughlin, and Nancy Levit.

  3. The Official Guide to Legal Specialities: An Insider's Guide to Every Major Practice Area by Lisa L. Abrams, J.D.

Firstly, legal career resources, such as books on job searches, and descriptions of areas of law from lawyers who have knowledge of practice. Think books that are basically informational interviews, but consolidated into one book (these are the books I alluded to beforehand). Want to know what's expected of you in the day to day of tax law? This book has a section. Public interest law? Also a section. Corporate practice versus non-profit? Section. You get me.

Law School Application Recommendations:

  1. Great Personal Statements for Law School by Paul Bodine

  2. The Powerscore LSAT Bible Series

  3. 1L of a Ride by Andrew McClurg

Secondly, for the "baby lawyers" in the crowd, books regarding applying to law school, writing personal statements (more applicable for the United States, but Canadian schools do sometimes require personal statements for LLM coursework and scholarships), and my all time recommendation for LSAT study guides. I studied for my LSAT on my own, and truly struggled with logic games in particular until I found this series of books. From reading all the material they provided, I improved my score at least six points between my first sitting of the LSAT and my second, more successful sitting of the LSAT, all due to this series.

(I'd also like to note for all baby lawyers out there: Be extremely vigilant in purchasing LSAT resources. This was really the best "bang for your buck" in terms of my research, but some of the more popular LSAT systems that are out there (in my personal opinion) can be a little parasitic in terms of getting money out of naive students, just because they have a larger marketing budget. Don't be bought in by a system just because they can afford to advertise at your school. This series was the one series that I didn't feel like I was just being offered platitudes and general advice for around two-hundred dollars of investment. Proceed with caution, and I'm sure to broach this as a topic and a full blog post in the near future.)

Marketing and Personal Branding Recommendation:

  1. The Road to Recognition: The A-to-Z Guide to Personal Branding for Accelerating Your Professional Success in the Age of Digital Media by Seth Price and Barry Feldman

Thirdly, I'd like to focus on a literal A-to-Z guide for personal branding in the age of digital media that I just recently read (and still have dog-eared). The Road to Recognition provides tangible baby steps in order to implement more of an online presence and build your personal brand moving forward.

Honestly, one thing that really will be a deciding factor in your career is not what you know, its who you know. Crappy, but true. I have seen people with less experience who are perfectly competent (but honestly, pretty unremarkable) in high paying corporate jobs, while (especially in COVID), brilliant lawyers who you couldn't understand how they could be unemployed are out on the street. Sometimes it is just things you can't control, such as a pandemic or an economy (trust me, I know), but the way to survive the storm is those connections who know how brilliant you are and can serve you right (even if you get kicked to the curb from your last job).

If there's one thing we all can control in COVID, it's building our network and presence. Give it a try, and see where it takes you.

Diversity, Mental Health Reads, and "Adulting" Resources:

  1. The Queer Advantage: Conversations With Lgbtq+ Leaders On The Power Of Identity by Andrew Gelwicks

  2. The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner's Guide to Getting Good with Money by Chelsea Fagan

  3. The Art of Showing Up: How to Be There for Yourself and Your People by Rachel Wilkerson Miller

  4. Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving by Celeste Headlee

  5. Digital Aboriginal: The Direction of Business Now: Instinctive, Nomadic, and Ever-Changing by Mikela Tarlow and Philip Tarlow

Fourthly, and finally, I wanted to focus on some diversity in business/law resources, as well as life skill resources. One thing I know that is lacking in the modern literary market (although it is getting better, thankfully) is the amount of career material that addresses intersectionality, an area near and dear to my heart.

I think (again, thankfully), we are finally coming to a place in the modern world where diversity is not just a "buzzword," but an acknowledged reality. We aren't just "lawyers" or 'law students," solely. The awareness that law should be reflective of society as a whole, in all its complexities, is closer and closer to becoming a reality. Our identities outside of fitting a square peg in a round square aren't as obvious anymore (while they do happen). While these aspects of our industry require constant vigilance and development, it is nice to see steps, however small, being taken towards making this reality more permanent.

So, with that being said, here are some solid "adulting" resources, mixed with diverse resources for different minority groups. Many of these books are fantastic resources for mental health conversations, teaching students about money, as well as just seeing themselves represented in broader media. They're also just fantastic reads. Take a look for yourselves, and enjoy!

The Books:

[ The following images the above recommended books, just with photos provided and some information about what may be inside. I'll tap in when I feel there might be something to contribute, but otherwise, feel free to peruse below, purchase on on the provided links, and happy reading!

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn a small percentage (4-10%) from qualifying purchases. Help buy a girl's next coffee!]

Guerrilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams By Kimm Alayne Walton, J.D.:

"This work is the key to getting the legal job of your dreams. It leads you step-by-step through everything you need to do to nail down that perfect job. You'll learn hundreds of simple-to-use strategies that will get you exactly where you want to."

Highlights of this book:

  • The fact that there's a money back guarantee

  • Finding out about what your 'job of your dreams' is anyhow.

  • Making your dreams come true by making contact with people in your industry.

  • Correspondence- Making your letters to potential employers "sing."

  • Help with Resumes.

  • Interviewing Tips.

  • "Help, my grades stink!"

  • Rainmaking

  • Non-traditional law careers.

[Purchase here]

Law Jobs: The Complete Guide: By Andrew J. McClurg, Christine Coughlin, and Nancy Levit:

"Choosing a legal career that fits a student’s personality, skillset, and aspirations is the most important and difficult decision a law student faces, yet only a small number of law schools incorporate career-planning into their curriculums. Law Jobs: The Complete Guide seeks to fill the gap. Written by three award-winning professors, Law Jobs is a comprehensive, reader-friendly guide to every type of legal career. Packed with authoritative research and featuring comments from more than 150 lawyers who do the jobs, Law Jobs offers in-depth exploration of each career option, including general background, pros and cons, day in the life descriptions, job availability, compensation, prospects for advancement, diversity, and how students can best position themselves for opportunities in the field. Covered jobs include:

  • Large and Medium-Sized Law Firms

  • Small Firms and Solo Practitioners

  • In-House and Other Corporate Counsel

  • Government Agency Lawyers

  • Non-Governmental Public Interest Law

  • Prosecutors and Public Defenders

  • Private Criminal Defense

  • JD Advantage Jobs

  • Contract (Freelance) Lawyering

  • Judges, Mediators, and Arbitrators

  • Judicial Law Clerks

  • Legal Academic Jobs

Other chapters address lawyer happiness, the rapidly changing face of the legal profession due to technology and other forces, the division between litigation and transactional law, and the top-50 legal specialty areas.

Together, the authors have received more than thirty awards for teaching and research, and have written extensively about law students and lawyers in books such as 1L of a Ride (McClurg), A Lawyer Writes (Coughlin), and The Happy Lawyer (Levit)."

[Purchase here]

The Official Guide to Legal Specialities: An Insider's Guide to Every Major Practice Area by Lisa L. Abrams, J.D.:

"With this product, you'll get an inside look at what it's like to practice law in 30 major specialty areas, including appellate practice, entertainment, immigration, international, tax, and telecommunications. This book gives you the insights and expertise of top practitioners-the issues they tackle every day, the people and clients they work with, what they find rewarding about their work, and what classes or work experience you need to follow in their footsteps. Over 120 government, public interest, corporate, and private attorneys are featured."

Another American book (written by the National Association of Law Placement) that specialises in what training and skills you should focus on garnering in different areas of law. one of the areas I loved was their area on government law, even though it was obviously based on the American system of practice.

[Purchase here]

"1L of a Ride provides a candid step-by-step roadmap to both academic and emotional success in law school’s critical first year. Covered topics in this newly updated, revised, and expanded second edition include: top student fears, the first-year curriculum, effective class participation, types of law students and professors, case-briefing, note-taking, course-outlining, legal research and writing, exam preparation, essay and multiple-choice exam strategies, stress management, the impact of law school on outside relationships, special challenges faced by part-time and nontraditional students, and much more. Shows rather than tells with dozens of anecdotes and comments from real law students, as well as authentic samples of Socratic dialogue, exam questions, student case briefs, class notes, and course outlines. McClurg is an award-winning professor and noted legal humorist with experience teaching at several law schools."

[Purchase here]

Great Personal Statements for Law School by Paul Bodine:

"Expert guidance in creating a high-performance personal statement--essential for admittance to law school

Nationally known consultant Paul Bodine has helped thousands gain admission to elite professional schools. In Great Personal Statements for Law School, he helps you ace your personal statement, the most critical part of any law school application."

Another more 'American' concept, but also good if you're considering applying to American law schools.

American law schools love their personal essays, and you probably will be asked to write one throughout your process.

[Purchase here]

The Powerscore LSAT Bible Series:

"The most comprehensive books available for learning how to approach each section of the LSAT. Learn advanced systems for attacking any game, question, or passage that you may encounter. Master each section of the LSAT using the industry leading concepts developed by PowerScore.

The PowerScore Logic Games Bible

  • Recognize game types and properly represent rules

  • Learn techniques for solving each question type

  • Review detailed explanations for 28 official LSAT Logic Games

  • Make inferences efficiently and accurately

  • Learn to manage your time on the Logic Games section

The PowerScore Logical Reasoning Bible

  • Solve every type of Logical Reasoning question

  • Review detailed explanations for over 100 official LSAT Logical Reasoning Questions

  • Recognize question types

  • Identify common reasoning elements and determine their validity

  • Make inferences efficiently and accurately

  • Learn to manage your time on the Logical Reasoning section

The PowerScore Reading Comprehension Bible

  • Read substantial discussions about how to deconstruct the passages

  • Review detailed explanations for12 official LSAT Reading Comprehension Passages

  • Learn how to identify and attack the questions

  • Successfully avoid traps set by the test makers

  • Work through a variety of drills and exercises

  • Strengthen specific skills that are critical for LSAT excellence"

[Purchase the full set here]

The Road to Recognition: The A-to-Z Guide to Personal Branding for Accelerating Your Professional Success in the Age of Digital Media by Seth Price and Barry Feldman:

"You need to take ownership and earn recognition as an expert in your field. There's no simple shortcut. But now there's a remarkably useful roadmap featuring:

  • An A to Z guide packed with actionable advice for developing your personal brand and accelerating your professional success.

  • 26 practical lessons to help you whether you're an entrepreneur, business leader, aspiring professional, creative, marketer or second careerist

  • Insights from professionals who are reaping the rewards of recognition."

[Purchase here]

The Queer Advantage: Conversations With Lgbtq+ Leaders On The Power Of Identity by Andrew Gelwicks:

"Meet the LGBTQ+ dealmakers, trailblazers, and glass-ceiling breakers in business, politics, and beyond.

The people who are creating national public policy, running billion-dollar tech enterprises, and winning Olympic medals. Andrew Gelwicks interviews the leaders who have forged their own paths and changed the world.

From Troye Sivan to Margaret Cho, George Takei to Billie Jean King, Shangela to Adam Rippon, each person credits their queer identity with giving them an edge in their paths to success. Their stories brim with the hard-won lessons gained over their careers. With variances in age, background, careers, and races, key themes shine through:

  • Channeling anger in a positive way -- using it as rocket fuel to succeed

  • Leveraging your difference to beget new ideas and strategies

  • Bridging generational gaps

  • Accessing resources to conquer crippling denial, internalized homophobia, and doubt

  • The power of the Internet as a tool of self-discovery

  • Using your sensitivity and attunement to read the room, deciding when to fit in and when to stand out

  • Finding a queer tribe and learning to help and lean on one another

Collecting incisive, deeply personal conversations with LGBTQ+ trailblazers about how they leveraged the challenges and insights they had as relative outsiders to succeed in the worlds of business, tech, politics, Hollywood, sports and beyond, The Queer Advantage celebrates the unique, supercharged power of queerness."

[Purchase here]

The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner's Guide to Getting Good with Money by Chelsea Fagan:

"The Financial Diet is the personal finance book for people who don’t care about personal finance. Whether you’re in need of an overspending detox, buried under student debt, or just trying to figure out how to live on an entry-level salary, The Financial Diet gives you tools to make a budget, understand investments, and deal with your credit. Chelsea Fagan has tapped a range of experts to help you make the best choices for you, but she also knows that being smarter with money isn’t just about what you put in the bank. It’s about everything—from the clothes you put in your closet, to your financial relationship habits, to the food you put in your kitchen (instead of ordering in again). So The Financial Diet gives you the tools to negotiate a raise and the perfect cocktail recipe to celebrate your new salary.

The Financial Diet will teach you:

• how to get good with money in a year.

• the ingredients everyone needs to have a budget-friendly kitchen.

• how to talk about awkward money stuff with your friends.

• the best way to make (and stick to!) a budget.

• how to take care of your house like a grown-up.

• what the hell it means to invest (and how you can do it)."

[Purchase here]

The Art of Showing Up: How to Be There for Yourself and Your People by Rachel Wilkerson Miller:

"If you’re having trouble connecting with those around you, know that you’re not the only one. Adult friendships are tricky!!! Part manifesto, part guide, The Art of Showing Up is soul medicine for our modern, tech-mediated age. Rachel Wilkerson Miller charts a course to kinder, more thoughtful, and more fulfilling relationships—and, crucially, she reminds us that “you can’t show up for others if you aren’t showing up for yourself first.” Learn to fearlessly...

  • define your needs, reclaim your time, and commit to self-care

  • ask for backup when times are tough—and take action when others are in crisis

  • meet and care for new friends, and gently end toxic friendships

  • help your people feel more seen (and more OK) overall!"

[Purchase here]

Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving by Celeste Headlee:

"Despite our constant search for new ways to optimize our bodies and minds for peak performance, human beings are working more instead of less, living harder not smarter, and becoming more lonely and anxious. We strive for the absolute best in every aspect of our lives, ignoring what we do well naturally and reaching for a bar that keeps rising higher and higher. Why do we measure our time in terms of efficiency instead of meaning? Why can’t we just take a break?

In Do Nothing, award-winning journalist Celeste Headlee illuminates a new path ahead, seeking to institute a global shift in our thinking so we can stop sabotaging our well-being, put work aside, and start living instead of doing. As it turns out, we’re searching for external solutions to an internal problem. We won’t find what we’re searching for in punishing diets, productivity apps, or the latest self-improvement schemes. Yet all is not lost—we just need to learn how to take time for ourselves, without agenda or profit, and redefine what is truly worthwhile.

Pulling together threads from history, neuroscience, social science, and even paleontology, Headlee examines long-held assumptions about time use, idleness, hard work, and even our ultimate goals. Her research reveals that the habits we cling to are doing us harm; they developed recently in human history, which means they are habits that can, and must, be broken. It’s time to reverse the trend that’s making us all sadder, sicker, and less productive, and return to a way of life that allows us to thrive."

(Fun fact: This is my favourite "self-help" book of all time.)

[Purchase here]

Digital Aboriginal: The Direction of Business Now: Instinctive, Nomadic, and Ever-Changing by Mikela Tarlow and Philip Tarlow:

"The Aborigine’s view of the world suggests that all things are interconnected. Every relationship in turn influences every other relationship. Along these same lines, this book reveals how the modern-day business world organizes this unlimited range of possibilities and how readers can reorganize and redirect business plans merely by shifting marketing beliefs."

[Purchase here]