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Suggested Readings for New Students

Congratulations on being accepted to Widener University Delaware Law School. In preparation for your first year of law school we recommend that you relax and enjoy your summer. Law School is hard work and you should arrive rested. However, if you want to get a head start on your legal studies, here is a list of recommended books. Some of these books deal with law school success strategies, others are legal histories that will give you a sense of the scope of our legal system or are stories which immerse you in the legal process. You should not attempt to read all of these books, instead focus on one book that sounds useful or interesting and read it at an enjoyable pace.

We look forward to seeing you in August.

1L of a Ride: A Well-Traveled Professor’s Roadmap to Success in the First Year of Law School. By Andrew McClurg.

1L of a Ride provides a step-by-step navigational guide to both academic and emotional success in law school’s crucial first year. It essentially answers the questions, what’s the first year of law school really like and how can I make the most of it? Readers learn what to expect, when to expect it, and how to respond to it.

Law in America: A Short History. By Lawrence Friedman.

Throughout America’s history, our laws have been a reflection of who we are, of what we value, of who has control. They embody our society’s genetic code. This brief introduction to our legal history, from colonial times to the present, serves as useful background to understand how our laws have been shaped by the forces of history.

To Kill a Mockingbird. By Harper Lee.

"The portrait of Atticus Finch, the man in that novel, not just as a lawyer, but as a dad is the most powerful. The reader gets a sense for how he balances his professional life and his love of his family, the way he treated everybody in the community – not just in the way he treated them as a lawyer, but the way he treated them as a human being. And then, his courage as an advocate. What more could you tell a law student than, as you go through your life as a lawyer, that if you ever have a dilemma, just ask yourself what would Atticus do?" - Dean Rod Smolla

The Anatomy of a Lawsuit. By Peter Simon.

This book is based on an actual lawsuit. It is designed to give students a feel for what actually happens in the step-by-step development of a case. The Anatomy of a Lawsuit explains the procedure and strategy behind common motions important to an understanding of civil procedure.

Deliberate Intent: A Lawyer Tells the True Story of Murder by the Book. By Rod Smolla.

Written by the new Dean of Delaware Law School, this is the riveting account of the landmark Hit Man case, by noted First Amendment attorney Rod Smolla, who risked reputation and career when he took on a cause that seemed to oppose his strongest beliefs.

Reading Like a Lawyer: Time-Saving Strategies for Reading Law Like an Expert. By Ruth McKinney.

The ability to read law well is an indispensable skill that can make or break the academic career of any aspiring lawyer. Fortunately, the ability to read law well (quickly and accurately) is a skill that can be acquired through knowledge and practice.

Writing Essays Exams to Succeed in Law School. By John Dernbach.

Essay exams don't have to be a mystery. With its wealth of visual aids, examples, and practical advice, John Dernbach's concise guide enables pre-law and law school students to develop the strong essay-writing skills they need to succeed and feel confident taking essay exams.

The Buffalo Creek Disaster: How the Survivors of One of the Worst Disasters in Coal-Mining History Brought Suit Against the Coal Company-and Won. By Gerald Stern.

One Saturday morning in February 1972, an impoundment dam owned by the Pittston Coal Company burst, sending a 130 million gallon, 25 foot tidal wave of water, sludge, and debris crashing into southern West Virginia's Buffalo Creek hollow. It was one of the deadliest floods in U.S. history. 125 people were killed instantly, more than 1,000 were injured, and over 4,000 were suddenly homeless. Instead of accepting the small settlements offered by the coal company's insurance offices, a few hundred of the survivors banded together to sue. This is the story of their triumph over incredible odds and corporate irresponsibility, as told by Gerald M. Stern, who as a young lawyer took on the case and won.

Expert Learning for Law Students. By Michael Schwartz.

Expert Learning for Law Students is designed to help law students build the analytical skills necessary to succeed in law school, on the bar exam, and in law practice. This book reveals how successful law students and lawyers plan, monitor, and implement their work and it provides detailed guidance regarding individual student personality types and learning styles.

What Every Law Student Really Needs to Know: An Introduction to the Study of Law. By Tracey George and Suzanna Sherry.

With the aim of decreasing students' anxiety and increasing their chances of achieving academic success, What Every Law Student Really Needs to Know: An Introduction to the Study of Law prepares students to get through their first year of law school.