51 Best Books for Lawyers—Recommended by Legal Professionals

UPDATED: September 6, 2017. Originally published March 8, 2017

Ever wonder what books will help you run the best legal practice possible? There are a million-and-one books out there on business, law, and the business of law, so how do you know you’re reading the most effective books for lawyers?

One place to start is to check out what your peers are reading.

We’ve put together a comprehensive list of the best books for lawyers, including classic picks, recommendations from Clio’s lawyer in residence Joshua Lenon, and recommendations from Clio’s Advocates community. It includes a few old favorites, as well as interesting picks you may not have heard of from those in the legal sector.

Check out our list of the best books for lawyers below, complete with quotes from the legal professionals who recommended them. Happy reading!

Navigate by topic

Like we said, this list is comprehensive. We’ve split it up into sections, so that you can skip ahead to what you’re looking for:

  1. Books for starting (and running) a law firm
  2. Books for productivity and time management
  3. Books on business
  4. Books on mental health
  5. Classic books for lawyers
  6. Inspirational books
  7. Books on writing for lawyers

Books for starting (and running) a law firm

1. The E-Myth Attorney: Why Most Legal Practices Don’t Work and What to Do About It

By: Michael Gerber

Learn to get your business up and running as quick as possible, with the tools and strategies needed for 21st century law firms. This was the most recommended book by our lawyer community. Here’s what a few of them had to say:

“It is the standard for business owners in terms of how to grow your business by working on it and not in it!” -Bertha B.

“It’s a great book that gets you thinking about how to make your practice relevant and forward thinking.” -Alicia I.

“This book really hammers home the importance of fully systemizing your practice.” – Matthew T.

The E-Myth Attorney on Amazon

2. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It

By: Michael Gerber

While The E-Myth Attorney was popular, one lawyer recommended a different Michael Gerber book instead—The E-Myth Revisited—which focuses on the broader context of starting a small business, not just a law firm:

“This book really helps you understand the importance of compartmentalizing your duties as a business owner, such as running the business itself vs performing the actual work that the business sells. It’s a staple … The E-Myth Revisited, while directed at business owners in general, is an easy read and relates well to attorneys anyways.” -Jeremy N.

The E-Myth Revisited on Amazon

3. How to Start & Build a Law Practice

By: Jay Foonburg

Part of the career series from the American Bar Association, this book offers a guide to planning, launching, and growing a successful practice.

“Although some of the advice is outdated, others are quintessential. His idea to keep photos of your loved ones or things you really want (vacation home, sailboat, vacation to Paris) on the wall behind potential clients is so effective. You can look at the potential client juxtaposed against the loved ones or things you desire while determining if the client who balks at the quoted rate is more loved than your children, pets, spouse, cottage, etc.

It causes one to consider whether you would rather spend unpaid time working on this person’s case or playing with your dog.” -Jennifer S.

How to Start & Build a Law Practice on Amazon

Want more tips on starting a law firm without breaking the bank? Download our free guide, How to Start Your Own Law Firm.

Download: How to Start Your Own Law Firm

4. Attorney and Law Firm Guide to the Business of Law: Planning and Operating for Survival and Growth, Third Edition

By: Edward Poll

Want to get the fundamentals of running a law firm in one clear, concise guide? Clio’s lawyer in residence, Joshua Lenon, recommends this guide.

Attorney and Law Firm Guide to the Business of Law at the ABA Store

5. Alternative Fees for Litigators and Their Clients

By: Patrick J. Lamb

Are you prepared for the death of the billable hour? If not, read this book.

Alternative Fees for Litigators and Their Clients at the ABA Store

6. Solo by Choice: How to Be the Lawyer You Always Wanted to Be

By: Carolyn Elefant

The heart wants what the heart wants. If you’re thinking of going solo, but you’re hesitant to take the leap, read this book and gather your courage!

Solo by Choice on Amazon

7. The Marble and the Sculptor: From Law School to Law Practice

By: Keith Lee

You’re straight out of law school—how do you succeed? Keith Lee shares his advice in the form of a “clear no-nonsense path from law school to lawyering.”

The Marble and the Sculptor on Amazon

8. Smart Collaboration: How Professionals and Their Firms Succeed by Breaking Down Silos

By: Heidi Gardner

Your clients are having more and more complex problems. To help them, you may need to collaborate with other skilled professionals. Get advice on how to do it with this book.

Smart Collaboration on Amazon

9. Rules for a Flat World: Why Humans Invented Law and How to Reinvent It for a Complex Global Economy

By: Gillian Hadfield

The world is getting increasingly complex, and lawyers need to be prepared. This book explores why humans invented the law, and how to reinvent it in our present, complex, global economy.

Rules for a Flat World on Amazon

10. Law Is a Buyer’s Market: Building A Client-First Law Firm

By: Jordan Furlong

Law is Buyer’s Market is a new book that is focused on designing a customer centric law firm. It paints the customer (the in-house firm) as the the champion of driving change and innovation in the legal services market.

Law Is a Buyer’s Market on Amazon

Books for productivity and time management

11. First Things First

By: Stephen Covey and Roger Merrill

Lawyers and other legal professionals are high performers by nature, but this book will help you focus on achieving a healthy work-life balance.

“[Read this book] to help figure out how to prioritize things properly and to remind [yourself] that [your] client’s emergency may not really be an emergency.” -Todd V.

First Things First on Amazon

12. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

By: Stephen Covey

A business bestseller for over two decades, this book takes readers through a change in perception regarding productivity, time management, positive thinking, and more. It’s a must-read for any business professional, lawyers included.

“Although it’s older, I still use the principles to keep me on track. I would recommend the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for those who have not read it. If you read it some time ago, maybe read it again. Staying in Quadrant 2 is a major stress-prevention technique that works.” -Marc J.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People on Amazon

13. Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School

By: John Medina

Want to be more efficient in running your practice? Start with a view into how your brain works.

“Should be mandatory for all law school entrants, and is still a huge boon to lawyers.” -John G.

Brain Rules on Amazon

14. Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life

By: Spencer Johnson

If you’re looking at a big change like switching practice areas or starting your own law firm, this book could help prepare you.

“A very simple, but wise, little book literally changed the way I looked at my career and life … I know, eyes are probably rolling, but when I left my large law firm after 16 years, and in my 40s, to start a new firm with a group of lawyers and co-workers, this book confirmed I was making the right decision. Two items in particular—‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’ and ‘If you do not change, you may become extinct.’” -Rhonda O.

Who Moved My Cheese on Amazon

15. Letting Go of Your Bananas

By: Daniel Drubin

In the legal profession, you often risk taking on too much. This book will remind you that sometimes, less is more.

“A book on how to become more successful by getting rid of everything rotten in your life. Very short easy read and I think it is a good ‘check-up’ book to read every now and then.” -Heather M.

Letting Go of your Bananas on Amazon

16. How to Do More in Less Time: The Complete Guide to Increasing Your Productivity and Improving Your Bottom Line


By: Allison Shields and Daniel J Siegel

Written specifically for busy lawyers, this book helps you focus on the most important activities to be more productive.

“Great tools to make your practice more efficient!” -Alicia I.

How to Do More in Less Time on Amazon

Books on business

17. Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

By: Eric Ries

Want to thrive in an ever-changing legal market? Start by reading this book.

“Lean Startup, by Eric Ries, should be mandatory for all of us. Like it or not, we all operate ‘startups,’ which Ries defines as human institutions operating in times of extreme uncertainty. The legal market—and future of our profession—makes Lean Startup tools critical.” -Greg McLawsen, 2016 Clio Cloud Conference speaker

The Lean Startup on Amazon

18. Unleash the Warrior Within: Develop the Focus, Discipline, Confidence, and Courage You Need to Achieve Unlimited Goals

By: Richard Machowicz

Another business book for those lawyers considering striking out on their own.

“Starting and running a business is not an easy venture and I appreciated his thoughts on focus, concentration, targeting goals, and not accepting failure as an option.” -Jodi W.

Unleash the Warrior Within on Amazon

19. Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing

By: Harry Beckwith

At times, it can be difficult to communicate the value of your legal services to clients. Selling the Invisible can help.

“An easy read, and the author’s other books dedicated to service providers are worth your time as well.” -Jeremy N.

Selling the Invisible on Amazon

20. Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

By: Seth Godin

Want to set yourself apart from the competition? Purple Cow gives you the tips you need to get started.

“This book explores the importance of standing out in a sea of others who sell the same thing as you. Godin has written many other books on marketing (Permission Marketing, Tribes, etc.) , and you can find excellent takeaways from each.” -Jeremy N.

Purple Cow on Amazon

Want to learn more about marketing? Check out The Lawyer’s Guide to Marketing Your Firm Online, free from Clio.

Download: The Lawyer’s Guide to Marketing Your Firm Online

21. The Generosity Factor: Discover the Joy of Giving Your Time, Talent, and Treasure

By: Ken Blanchard and S. Truett Cathy

Building strong client relationships can go a long way towards building a successful practice.

“Great book that anyone in a service industry should read to remember how to treat people, give back and be successful without being ugly.” -Elizabeth T.

The Generosity Factor on Amazon

22. Hardball: How Politics Is Played, Told by One Who Knows the Game

By: Chris Matthews

Politics play a role in every aspect of our lives—whether in the firm or out in the world. Hardball gives insight to how it’s played at it’s highest level.

“He weaves general political theory with anecdotes from the days of LBJ on how people handle problems and advocate for their causes to the general public. It is extremely helpful regarding the politics of being a lawyer more so than the practice.” -Walter D.

Hardball on Amazon

23. The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea

By: Bob Burg

If you’re anxious about reaching out to potential clients, this book is for you.

“This helped me to better understand clients, be more patient, be a better referral partner, and be less cautious or afraid of ‘selling’ or reaching out to people generally. People who have never been in sales tend to be very tentative about reaching out to folks or don’t want to seem ‘pushy.’” -Shreya L.

The Go-Giver on Amazon

24. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

By: Peter Thiel

If you want your firm to be a cut above the rest, you’ve got to be different. This book shows you how to start.

“A good read with practical thoughts on how to run/organize a business. We sometimes forget that while we are a profession, we are running businesses as well, and we need to make sure that we stay current with things so we do not become irrelevant.” -Todd V.

Zero to One on Amazon

25. How to Win Friends & Influence People

By: Dale Carnegie

Another classic, this book will help you build relationships with clients, lawyers, and others in the legal community.

“It’s got great basic principles about dealing with people and establishing business relationships.” -Mike B.

How to Win Friends & Influence People on Amazon

26. Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

By: Maria Konnikova

Wouldn’t it be handy to be able to think like Sherlock Holmes when sifting through evidence? This book just might help you get there.

“How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by the amazing Maria Konnikova is a must read about the way our minds work and the way our minds should work. She explores and elaborates on a lot of what is in Thinking, Fast and Slow by comparing the ‘Watson brain’ and the ‘Sherlock brain.’ Amazingly engaging author and very useful book.” -Jordan C.

Mastermind on Amazon

26. How to Become a Rainmaker: The Rules for Getting and Keeping Customers and Clients

By: Jeffrey J. Fox

For lawyers that simply want to be the best, this book promises to “help readers rise above the competition in any company in any field.”

“If we are talking professional books, I think How to be a Rainmaker is extraordinary.” -Barbara L.

How to Become a Rainmaker on Amazon

28. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others

By: Daniel H. Pink

A big part of any business is sales, including the business of running a law firm. This book offers a surprising look at the art and science of selling.

“I’d recommend just about anything he writes.” -Jeff M.

To Sell Is Human on Amazon

29. Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine

By: Mike Michalowicz

Authored by the founder of two multi-million dollar companies, this book flips the traditional profit formula on its head—making expenses dependent on sales and profits.

Profit First on Amazon

30. What Color Is Your Parachute?: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers

By: Richard N. Bolles

Thinking of switching practice areas? Read this timeless classic on choosing a career path to help inform your decision.

What Color Is Your Parachute on Amazon

31. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

By: Tim Ferriss

Love the law, but want to leave long days at the office behind? This book may have a few ideas that, combined with the latest legal tech and knowledge of a constantly shifting legal industry, could help you get the best of both worlds.

The 4-Hour Workweek on Amazon

32. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

By: Atul Gawande

The Checklist Manifesto is a book written by a surgeon on the importance of, well, checklists. It really fits the narrative of get things done and delegate effectively for a professional.

The Checklist Manifesto on Amazon

33. Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business

By: Gino Wickman

Starting a law firm is one thing, but setting up your day-to-day processes is a whole different challenge. This book takes you through the practical side of running a business, and gives you the tools to put systems in place that will help you succeed.

Traction on Amazon

34. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … And Others Don’t

By: Jim Collins

What makes or breaks a business? Jim Collins did intensive research to find out,  studying a set of companies that achieved great results and sustained those results for at least 15 years. His findings may be helpful for those aiming to grow their law firms.

Good to Great on Amazon

35. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

By: Simon Sinek

“‘People don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it.’ This is the single most impactful phrase from that book for my business.” – Michelle N. Ogborne, Ogborne Law PLC

Start with Why on Amazon

36. The Trusted Advisor

By: David H. Maister, Charles H. Green, and Robert M. Galford

“I read this when I was a traveling software implementation consultant but this book can (and maybe should) be read by anyone in a business role to learn how to best serve their client base/constituency/team. Because regardless of whether you’re the business owner or a secretary, each person has some customer base that they either answer to or are trying to assist.” – Margaret Cullen, Accounting Manager at Wood IP LLC

The Trusted Advisor on Amazon

37. Rework

By: Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

“[This book is] essential for firm owners and lawyers seeking to become unique business owners and striving to create unique approaches in this long-standing profession.” – Devika Carr, Owner, D. Carr Law

Rework on Amazon

Books on mental health

38. The Anxious Lawyer: An 8-Week Guide to a Joyful and Satisfying Law Practice Through Mindfulness and Meditation

By: Jeena Cho

The legal profession is inherently stressful, but it doesn’t have to harm your health. Learn how meditation and mindfulness can lead to a more satisfying practice.

The Anxious Lawyer on Amazon

39. Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

By: Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius

Learn how your thoughts can change your brain. You’ll set yourself up for success in life and in your practice.

“Being an attorney is stressful and we need to learn to balance our lives and be more positive and productive.” -Dana J.

Buddha’s Brain on Amazon

40. The Power of Positive Thinking

By: Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

Depending on your practice area, you likely help your clients through some of the most difficult times in their lives. Positive thinking can make a big difference. Read about how it can help in this book.

The Power of Positive Thinking on Amazon

41. Awaken the Giant Within

By: Tony Robbins

Trying to get motivated, but need just one more push? Pick up this book, give it a read, and you’ll be primed to get started.

“It will motivate you to change everything, your relationships, your work habits, your finances and your life.” -John S.

Awaken the Giant Within on Amazon

Classic books for lawyers

42. To Kill a Mockingbird

By: Harper Lee

A list of the best books for lawyers would not be complete without this classic work of American literature. The book’s main character, Atticus Finch, has become a role model for many lawyers—there’s even a monument in his honor at a courthouse in Monroeville, Alabama.

To Kill a Mockingbird on Amazon

43. Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation’s Top Advocates

By: Ross Guberman

Want all of your briefs and motions to shine? The author of this book has carefully analyzed arguments from distinguished  lawyers, and has distilled his findings into tips to help you write like them.

Point Made on Amazon

44. How to Argue & Win Every Time: At Home, At Work, In Court, Everywhere, Everyday

By: Garry Spence

Garry Spence believes that everyone is capable of making the winning argument. As one of the most successful trial attorneys in the U.S., his advice is worth taking.

How to Argue & Win Every Time on Amazon

45. Storytelling for Lawyers

By: Philip Meyer

Similar to Point Made, this book is full of advice on how to construct a compelling narrative based on (sometimes) dry facts.

Storytelling for Lawyers on Amazon

46. Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges

By: Antonin Scalia and Bryan A. Garner

This book covers the essentials of sound legal reasoning, and discusses how to develop effective arguments, whether spoken or written.

Making Your Case on Amazon

47. One Hundred Days Before Trial: A Family Lawyer’s Guide to Preparation and Strategy

By: Steven Nathan Peskind

Learn how to start early and stay disciplined when it comes to trial preparation.

One Hundred Days Before Trial on Amazon

Inspirational books

48. Lawyers as Changemakers: The Global Integrative Law Movement

By: J. Kim Wright

“This offers great insights into all the powerful, creative ways lawyers get out there and truly help people and society.” – Nancy Retsinas, Nancy Retsinas PC

Lawyers as Changemakers on Amazon

49. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

By: Bryan Stevenson

“This is one of the most powerful books I’ve read, and shows just how badly the scales of justice are tipped against criminal defendants, especially particular segments of society. I’d recommend it to every lawyer, not just defense attorneys.” – Ericka McFee, Attorney, McFee Law Offices PC

Just Mercy on Amazon

Books on writing for lawyers

50. Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

By: Lynne Truss

A misplaced comma can make all the difference in a contract or argument. Read this book to reignite your love of proper punctuation.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves on Amazon

51. The Elements of Legal Style

By: Bryan A. Garner

A legal-specific version of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, this book covers everything lawyers should know about word choice, grammar, mechanics, and more.

The Elements of Legal Style on Amazon

Did we miss your favorite read? Tell us your best book for lawyers in the comments below.

Want new reading material that won’t break the bank? Clio has plenty of resources for improving your practice, available absolutely free!

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