Top ten essential books for aspiring lawyers | OUPblog

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Authorized data doesn’t simply come from textbooks and lectures. Final yr, we requested Martin Partington, creator of Introduction to the English Authorized System, for his prime ten movie suggestions for regulation college students and aspiring legal professionals. This yr he turns his consideration to inspiring books that can get you serious about our authorized system, our society, and the position of legal professionals – what would you add to his record?

The Rule of Regulation by Tom Bingham

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I begin, not with a piece of fiction, however this guide by a former Lord Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court docket of the UK which is, fairly merely, THE must-read guide within the record. The ‘rule of regulation’ is an idea typically talked about in public debate however with little evaluation of what the phrase really means. Right here, the late Lord Bingham units out clearly and accessibly what the rule of regulation is, and why all legal professionals want to concentrate on its significance. It’s concerning the correct limits of energy and who ought to have duty for setting boundaries to using energy. As an introduction to this basic constitutional precept on which the UK authorized system is based, it’s the ultimate.

The Trial by Franz Kafka


The Trial tells the story of Josef Okay, who’s arrested and prosecuted by a distant, inaccessible authority, with the character of his crime revealed neither to him nor certainly to the reader. All regulation college students ought to learn this work because it forces the reader to think about what can occur if accepted norms of behaviour by public authorities will not be adhered to – certainly what can occur if the rule of regulation is ignored. Its themes are related not simply within the context of prison justice but in addition administrative justice.

Bleak Home by Charles Dickens

That is the story of, amongst different issues, the long-running case of Jarndyce v Jarndyce. Charles Dickens was crucial of many points of the authorized system because it operated in nineteenth century England. In Bleak Home there are two specific targets in his sights. First the extent to which proceedings might be drawn out by countless procedural steps that failed to maneuver the case ahead – a difficulty that has solely comparatively not too long ago been improved following Lord Woolf’s reforms of the civil justice system. Second, and associated to the primary, is {that a} claimant in an motion might finally reach his motion, however due to the delay and expense of the legal professionals concerned, there’s finally no cash left to fulfill an award of the courtroom. That is an important level that to at the present time must be borne in thoughts at any time when civil litigation is contemplated.

Billy Budd by Herman Melville

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This can be a sensible quick story/novella which raises profound questions concerning the relationship between regulation and justice. Billy Budd tells the story of a sailor who, after a false accusation of conspiracy to mutiny, fatally injures one in every of his ship mates. Whereas his remaining ship mates consider in Billy’s ethical innocence, he should nonetheless face a court-martial and bear the implications of his actions. Many works of literature discover this rigidity between regulation and justice – contemplate up to date points reminiscent of mercy killing. In what circumstances can killing be excused?

Order and Dispute by Simon Roberts

I used to be a colleague of the late Professor Roberts on the London College of Economics. He revealed the primary version of this splendidly readable guide on authorized anthropology in 1979; a second version appeared in 2013. In Order and Dispute Roberts makes the argument that there was an inclination within the West to imagine that solely courts might be the true resolvers of disputes. He argues that, by wanting on the methods through which different societies maintain order and clear up disputes, invaluable mild might be thrown on up to date debates about order and dispute decision in our personal society. These points stay on the centre of discussions about reform not solely of the household, but in addition the civil and administrative justice programs in England and Wales.

Njal’s Saga by Anon

Years in the past, once I did some instructing on the College of Kent, Njal’s Saga was one of many books really helpful to first yr college students. Written within the thirteenth century, it tells the story of a fifty-year blood feud that, regardless of its distance from us in time and place, is pushed by passions acquainted to us all. It explores perennial human issues – from failed marriages to divided loyalties, from the regulation’s lack of ability to curb human passions to the horrible penalties when first rate women and men are swept up in a tide of violence past their management.

Particularly it explores the extent to which disputes might be settled by settlement, and examines the horrible issues that occur when revenge turns into an amazing social pressure. Though a story from one other time, it isn’t exhausting to think about fashionable contexts through which revenge moderately than the rule of regulation is dominant, and may encourage you to mirror on the harmful penalties of a society through which a revenge tradition turns into embedded. It’s possible you’ll suppose this alternative is a bit off the wall; however an incredible subject for an interview?

Arthur and George by Julian Barnes

This can be a very fulfilling novel about an actual life case that arose originally of the twentieth century. George Edalji was a Parsi English solicitor and son of a vicar in a South Staffordshire village. He served three years’ exhausting labour after being convicted on a cost of injuring a pony. His case got here to the eye of Arthur Conan Doyle – creator of Sherlock Holmes. He organized for investigations to be made which demonstrated that George couldn’t have dedicated the crimes for which he was convicted.

On the time, the authorized system supplied solely extraordinarily restricted alternatives for interesting towards unsafe prison convictions. Certainly, the occasions surrounding the case had been a key factor in a marketing campaign which ultimately led to the creation of the Court docket of Felony Attraction in 1907.

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Since that point, after all, there have been additional modifications, particularly the creation of the Felony Circumstances Evaluation Fee in 1997. The story reminds the reader how troublesome it may be to get the stability proper between making certain that the general public might be assured within the integrity of the prison justice system confidence and on the identical time being sufficiently versatile to make sure that miscarriages of justice don’t happen, and that the place they do, remedial motion is taken.

1984 by George Orwell

That is maybe probably the most horrifying guide I’ve ever learn. The horrors of Room 101 disturbed me for weeks. I embody it on this record as a result of it exhibits the horrible penalties for societies that wholly reject the basic ethical bases of reality and equity. It’s a work that has grow to be extra related as applied sciences have developed to allow organs of the state to observe the exercise of its residents. Simply contemplate present debates on privateness, and the powers of the police and different state companies to ‘eavesdrop’ on the lives of residents and to control the reality.9780199555765

There are massive questions posed by the novel which all potential legal professionals ought to contemplate, in order that they will ask themselves: what are the bounds past which the state shouldn’t cross to keep up private freedom? What ought to legal professionals do once they worry that the state is proposing to transcend what is suitable and to do issues which may undermine particular person freedom? Can the rule of regulation set these boundaries? How can abuse of energy be saved in examine?

Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy

Much less well-known, and shorter, than Struggle and Peace, Resurrection is nonetheless a wonderful novel that raises profound questions concerning the justice of artificial legal guidelines. The story is a few nobleman, who seeks redemption for a sin dedicated years earlier. Following a short affair with a maid, Maslova, she was fired and ended up in prostitution. Framed for homicide, she is convicted of the crime and despatched to Siberia. Nekhlyudov, the nobleman, goes to go to her in jail, meets different prisoners, hears their tales, and slowly comes to appreciate that throughout his charmed and golden aristocratic world, but invisible to it, is a a lot bigger world of oppression, distress and barbarism. It illustrates the dire penalties of a prison justice system that lacks equity and humanity.

Justice: what’s the best factor to do? by Michael J Sandel

For my last alternative, I go away the world of fiction once more and suggest this considerate and fascinating guide by Harvard Professor Michael Sandel. This work, revealed in 2009, was written to accompany a course Sandel has taught at Harvard for greater than 30 years. He introduces the reader to the views of various philosophers about how they understand the idea of justice, in addition to introducing his personal views on the which means of Justice. You possibly can see his lectures and in addition see him introducing the guide in a TED speak: an incredible introduction to a number of the key questions which underpin the research of regulation.

Featured picture credit score: Library by Foundry. CCO Public Area by way of Pixabay.

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