Recommended resources for first-year (1L) law students

After my 1L year of law school, I put together the following list of books and other resources I found helpful. I’ve also added my own book about legal writing to the list.

Ryan McCarl's book Elegant Legal Writing is now available on [Amazon]( and [Audible](! Buy a copy here and follow Ryan's legal-writing blog at [](

(* = essential/most valuable)


  • Richard M. Fischl and Jeremy Paul, Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams*
  • Dennis J. Tonsing, 1000 Days to the Bar, but the Practice of Law Begins Now*
  • Ward Farnsworth, The Legal Analyst: A Toolkit for Thinking About the Law
  • Steven Emanuel, Steve Emanuel’s First Year Questions and Answers
  • Randy Barnett, The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law
  • LexisNexis Area of Law Outlines
  • Black’s Law Dictionary - iPhone app version

Legal Writing:

  • Ryan McCarl, Elegant Legal Writing*
  • Ross Guberman, Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation’s Top Legal Advocates*

Civil Procedure:

  • Richard Freer, Law School Legends: Civil Procedure (audio)*
  • Richard Freer, Civil Procedure
  • Joseph Glannon, Civil Procedure: Examples and Explanations
  • Arthur R. Miller, Sum and Substance: Civil Procedure (audio) - out-of-date but still worthwhile


  • William Prosser, Prosser and Keeton on Torts (or the more up-to-date but longer Dan B. Dobbs, The Law of Torts)
  • Joseph Glannon, Torts: Examples and Explanations
  • Steven Finz, Sum and Substance: Torts (audio)


  • Brian A. Blum, Contracts: Examples and Explanations*
  • Marvin Chirelstein, Contracts and Case Analysis in the Law of Contracts
  • David Epstein, Sum and Substance: Contracts (audio)
  • Randy Barnett, Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Contracts

Criminal Law:

  • Joshua Dressler, Understanding Criminal Law*
  • Joshua Dressler, Sum and Substance: Criminal Law (audio)


  • John G. Sprankling, Understanding Property Law*
  • Linda H. Edwards, Estates in Land and Future Interests: A Step-by-Step Guide
  • Julian C. Juergensmeyer, Sum and Substance: Property (audio)*

Constitutional Law:

  • Erwin Chemerinsky, Constitutional Law: Principles and Policies*
  • Mary Cheh, Sum and Substance: Constitutional Law (audio)