Ever wonder what information you need to 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 best books for lawyers?
A great place to start is to check out what your peers in the legal industry are reading.
We’ve put together a comprehensive list of the 53 best books for lawyers based on recommendations from Clio’s lawyer-in-residence, Joshua Lenon, and recommendations from the Clio community. The list includes a few old favorites, as well as new interesting picks you may not have heard of in the legal sector.
Continue reading for an overview of the top 53 best books for lawyers. We’ve also included quotes from the legal professionals who recommended them. Happy reading!
Best books for lawyers 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
This is one of the best books for lawyers because it teaches you how to get your business up and running as quickly as possible—using tools and strategies needed for 21st century law firms. This was the most recommended legal 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.
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.
3. How to Start & Build a Law Practice
By: Jay Foonberg
Part of the career series from the American Bar Association, this legal 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“Although some of the advice is outdated, others are quintessential.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.
Want more tips on starting a law firm without breaking the bank? Download our free guide, 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 ABA bestseller as a great starting point.
Whether you’re starting a law practice from the ground up or already have a practice and want to expand, this book contains the information you need to achieve success.
5. Alternative Fees for Litigators and Their Clients
By: Patrick J. Lamb
This book takes a look at how attorneys can implement and evaluate alternative, non-hourly fee arrangements when working with clients.
Written by a trial lawyer with over 30 years of experience, this guide provides lessons, insights, and practical tips based on the author’s long-term experiment with alternative fee arrangements.
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 about going solo but are hesitant to take the big leap, read this book to gather your courage and do it the right way.
This book is meant for any lawyer who ever wanted to start their own practice, but is worried about committing career suicide, stressed over how to set up the office, and nervous about how to find clients. You’ll learn best practices and hear stories from other lawyers who have been successful at starting their own practice.
Looking to start your own practice? Here are 15 useful ways to invest in your law firm’s future, based on some of our most popular posts from the Clio Blog.
7. The Marble and the Sculptor: From Law School to Law Practice
By: Keith Lee
Have you just finished law school and are trying to figure out what’s your next step? Lee’s The Marble and the Sculptor is one of the best books for lawyers who are new to the field. He shares his advice in the form of a “clear no-nonsense path from law school to lawyering.”
Advice includes everything from which classes to take during law school to the importance of being able to write well and develop client relationships. This book is the go-to guide for all young lawyers regardless of law school or area of practice.
Do you want to start your own law practice as a young solo practitioner? Here are a few tips for succeeding as a young solo practitioner.
8. Smart Collaboration: How Professionals and Their Firms Succeed by Breaking Down Silos
By: Heidi Gardner
Your clients are facing more and more complex problems. Everything from regulatory compliance to data security. You can’t be the expert at everything, so your team needs to include a range of multidisciplinary experts. This book offers advice on best practices for collaborating with other professionals
Heidi K. Gardner, a former McKinsey consultant and Harvard Business School professor, shows that law firms earn higher margins, achieve greater client loyalty, and attract and retain the best talent when specialists collaborate across functional boundaries.
9. The Client-Centered Law Firm: How to Succeed in an Experience-Driven World
By: Jack Newton
Covering the what, why, and how of running a client-centered practice, with examples from law firms leading this revolution as well as practical strategies for implementation, The Client-Centered Law Firm is a rallying call to unlock the enormous untapped demand in the legal market by providing client-centered experiences, improving internal processes, and raising the bottom line. Although we may be a tad biased since Jack is Clio’s CEO, with the in-depth implementation strategies included in this book, we promise you won’t regret adding it to your reading list of best books for lawyers.
10. Law Is a Buyer’s Market: Building A Client-First Law Firm
By: Jordan Furlong
Law is a Buyer’s Market covers how lawyers can respond to an increasingly competitive landscape with cost-effective solutions.
Jordan Furlong, a leading strategic forecaster of the global legal market. He explains how to create a law firm built to succeed in this new buyer’s market, starting with being client-centric.
Best books for lawyers on productivity and time management
11. First Things First
By: Stephen Covey and Roger Merrill
Lawyers and other legal professionals are high performers by nature, which sometimes throws off the time dedicated to personal life. This qualifies as one of the best books for lawyers because it provides you with the tools to 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.
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, law firm 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.
Looking for a solution to help you stay organized on-the-go? Built for lawyers, Clio’s legal calendar software keeps you connected to your cases, clients, and work.
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. Dr. John Medina, a molecular biologist, explains how every brain is wired differently, why exercise improves cognition, and how sleep is powerfully linked with the ability to learn.
“Should be mandatory for all law school entrants, and is still a huge boon to lawyers.” -John G.
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 can 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.
Are you starting your own practice but need guidance on where to start? Check out our dedicated resource section on Clio’s website for how to start your own law firm.
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.
In the legal profession, burnout can creep up on you faster than you think. We’ve put together a list of apps that will help prevent lawyer burnout.
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 law firm time management book helps you focus on the most important activities to be more productive.
“Great tools to make your practice more efficient!” -Alicia I.
You may like these posts
Best books for lawyers 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. Inspired by lessons from lean manufacturing, the author focuses on rapid scientific experimentation, and several other counter-intuitive practices, to shorten product development cycles, measure progress without being distracted by vanity metrics, and cater to customer demands.
“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
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.
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, from start to finish.
“An easy read, and the author’s other books dedicated to service providers are worth your time as well.” -Jeremy N.
Whether you’re planning to bill by the hour, use set rates, or have contingency arrangements, you need to know what your time is worth. We’ve written a comprehensive article on how to calculate your hourly rate.
20. Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
By: Seth Godin
Want to set yourself apart from the competition? Purple Cow is one of the best books for lawyers because it 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.
Want to learn more about marketing? Check out 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.
Loyal client relationships are key to building a successful law firm. To help you get there, we’ve put together a list of 8 tips to help you improve your lawyer-client relationships.
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 its 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.
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.
Whether you’re networking with fellow attorneys or attending non-legal networking events relevant to your practice area, here is a list of top legal networking tips to help you be successful.
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.
25. How to Win Friends & Influence People
By: Dale Carnegie
One of the most groundbreaking and timeless bestsellers of all time, 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.
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.
27. 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 about professional books, I think How to be a Rainmaker is extraordinary.” -Barbara L.
28. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others
By: Daniel H. Pink
As a lawyer, you may not think of sales as one of the main parts of your job. However, 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. Pink describes the six successors to the elevator pitch, the three rules for understanding another’s perspective, and the five ways to position your message in a clearer and persuasive way.
“I’d recommend just about anything he writes.” -Jeff M.
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.
With dozens of case studies, and practical, step-by-step advice, Michalowicz shows that by taking profit first and apportioning only what remains for expenses, you can transform your law firm into generating sustained profitability.
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.
In addition to providing tips on social media and search tactics, Bolles demystifies the entire job-search process. This includes resumes to interviewing to networking.
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.
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 getting things done and delegating effectively for a professional.
Through storytelling, Gawande reveals what checklists can do, what they can’t, and how they can bring about significant improvements across a variety of fields, from medicine and disaster recovery to professions and businesses.
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.
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.
35. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
By: Simon Sinek
This book focuses on a fundamental question: Why are some people and organizations more innovative, influential, and profitable than others? Sinek takes a deep dive into why businesses are able to generate greater customer and employee loyalty than others.
“‘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
36. The Trusted Advisor
By: David H. Maister, Charles H. Green, and Robert M. Galford
This book proposes that the key to professional success is the ability to earn the trust and confidence of clients. The authors demonstrate the importance of trust through anecdotes, experiences, and case studies.
“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
By: Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
Instead of spending time on planning, this book proposes what you really need to do is stop talking and start working. You’ll learn how to be more productive, how to get exposure without breaking the bank, and other counterintuitive ideas that will inspire and provoke you.
“[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
38. Productizing Legal Work: Providing Legal Expertise at Scale (Aspen Casebook Series)
By: Gabriel H. Teninbaum
Offering engaging dialogue on the changing legal market, and the role of productization within it. This text also provides relevant discussion and examples of how productized services fit into a changing legal workplace.
39. Legal Data and Information in Practice: How Data and the Law Interac
By: Sarah A. Sutherland
This book provides readers with an understanding of how to facilitate the acquisition, management, and use of legal data in organizations such as libraries, courts, governments, universities, and start-ups. Making it a staple for lawyers everywhere.
Best books for lawyers on mental health
40. 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. The Anxious Lawyer provides a straightforward 8-week introductory program on meditation and mindfulness, created by lawyers for lawyers.
The program includes practical tools, including access to guided meditations and worksheets that allow the reader to track his or her progress.
Lawyers often work under a high amount of stress. Learn how to take care of your mental health while working at a law firm with this mindfulness and meditation webinar for lawyers.
41. 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.
42. The Power of Positive Thinking
By: Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
This book has been “written with the sole objective of helping the reader achieve a happy, satisfying, and worthwhile life.” With the practical techniques outlined in this book, you can energize your life and those of your clients.
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.
43. 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.
Classic best books for lawyers
44. 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.
45. 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.
Each chapter of Point Made focuses on a specific challenge you might face during your client case. Guberman provides a strategic roadmap, practical tips, and annotated examples of the successes of prominent attorneys.
46. 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.
This book is not about how to set up a winning argument, providing the best evidence, or the best case. It is about getting what you want by communicating effectively with others.
47. Storytelling for Lawyers
By: Philip Meyer
Good lawyers have the ability to tell compelling stories. No matter what the complexities of the case, they can capably explain a chain of events to judges and juries so that they understand. The best lawyers are also able to construct narratives that have an emotional impact on their intended audiences.
Similar to Point Made, this book is full of advice on how to construct a compelling narrative based on (sometimes) dry facts.
48. 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. You’ll learn the basics of writing legal briefs and giving oral arguments, as well as successful oral pleading in the courtroom.
49. 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. In this book, Peskind offers an alternative to the mad-dash scramble model of trial preparation. Instead, he focuses on how to start early, develop a plan, and maintain self-discipline to get to the desired results.
Inspirational best books for lawyers
50. Lawyers as Changemakers: The Global Integrative Law Movement
By: J. Kim Wright
Integrative Law has to do with a fundamental shift in our worldview. This book helps the reader think in a more expansive way to imagine what could be possible. It draws upon many disciplines, such as philosophy, science, psychology, and spirituality.
“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
51. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
By: Bryan Stevenson
Just Mercy is a #1 New York Times bestseller and was named one of the most influential books of the decade by CNN. It’s an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age.
“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
Best books for lawyers who like writing
52. 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. Eats, Shoots & Leaves makes a powerful case for the understanding and application of proper punctuation.
53. The Elements of Legal Style
By: Bryan A. Garner
A legal-specific version of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, this is one of the best books for lawyers because it covers everything lawyers should know about word choice, grammar, mechanics, and more.
Garner clearly explains the full range of what legal writers need to know: Mechanics, word choice, structure, and rhetoric. He also highlights the special conventions specific to legal writers should follow, including how to use headings, defined terms, quotations, and many other devices.
Best books about how to be a lawyer?
A few pivotal books about being a lawyer include: How to Start & Build a Law Practice, Law Is a Buyer’s Market: Building A Client-First Law Firm, and The Client-Centered Law Firm: How to Succeed in an Experience-Driven World.
What should every lawyer read?
At some point in their career, nearly every lawyer considers starting their own firm. Even if it’s only a momentary thought, all lawyers should read: Solo by Choice: How to Be the Lawyer You Always Wanted to Be.
We published this blog post in September 2017. Last updated: .
Categorized in: Business, Marketing, Technology
How to write a legal resume that law firm hiring managers will notice
Stand out from the thousands of legal professionals looking for work. Learn resume best practices and tips for using your online presence to attract legal recruiters.Watch the Webinar