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A Lawyer’s Summer Reading List

Updated February 13, 2024

Looking for books to add to your summer reading list? Check out these recommendations from DRI members.

Reading has been shown to have many benefits, including reducing stress, strengthening your brain, and helping you sleep. Even if you’re spending more time in court than the beach this summer, reading even just 10 minutes a day can help your overall wellness.

Whether you are looking for a beach read for your vacation or an audiobook to listen to on your commute to the office, DRI has you covered with this summer reading list curated by our members.

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein

Recommended by Brandon Pellegrino, partner at Bowman and Brooke LLP.

In this book, the author argues that range is more relevant in today's society than specialization because the problems of the modern world require bridging experience and knowledge from multiple fields to foster solutions. “It challenges the historic notion that you need to be an expert in something to succeed,” Pellegrino says.

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Recommended by Catherine Ava Leatherwood, partner at Rogers Townsend LLC.

This novel is about a Cuban-American woman who travels to Havana, Cuba, after her grandmother’s death and discovers the roots of her identity and a family secret.

“It's a historical novel, and beautifully descriptive. The author also happens to be a graduate of my law school (University of South Carolina),” Leatherwood says.

Next Year in Havana

The Other Wes Moore - One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

Recommended by Christine E. Westberg Dorn of Mooney Lenaghan Westberg Dorn LLC.

Wes Moore, the 63rd Governor of Maryland, wrote this nonfiction book about his own life story contrasted with the story of another man named Wes Moore, who is serving a life sentence in prison. “The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his,” Moore said.

“This book is a fascinating true story about two Black boys who share the same name, and how poverty, role models, adult supervision, and other influences impact the divergent paths they took which led to where they are today,” Dorn says.

The Other Wes Moore - One Name, Two Fates

The Curmudgeon's Guide to the Practice of Law by Mark Herrmann, and
How to Draft Bills Clients Rush to Pay by Mark A. Robertson and J. Harris Morgan

Recommended by Dan L. Lindstrom, shareholder at Jacobsen Orr Lindstrom & Holbrook.

Lindstrom recommended these two books because they encompass “great reminders and insights for mentoring young lawyers.”

Herrmann’s essay collection offers practical, honest, and “need-to-know” advice for surviving and thriving in a law firm, while Robertson and Morgan’s step-by step guide discusses “drafting and formatting invoices that clients will fully understand, find reasonable, and be more likely to pay-on time and without complaint.”

The Curmudgeon's Guide to the Practice of Law

How to Draft Bills Clients Rush to Pay

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Recommended by Kennard B. Davis, associate at Baker Donelson.

Trying to implement new healthy habits can be daunting. Luckily, James Clear wrote a comprehensive, practical guide on how to change your habits with the aim of getting “1% better every day.” The book uses a framework called the Four Laws of Behavior Change, a set of rules for creating good habits and breaking bad ones.

Atomic Habits

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Recommended by Lawrence Bradfield Hughes of Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP.

This New York Times bestseller is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths cross in occupied France during World War II. Hughes recommends the book due to its “superb storytelling and command of language.” If you read this book and love it, you’re in luck because there is also a Netflix limited series based on the book!

All the Light We Cannot See

Live Your Calling by Kevin & Kay Marie Brennfleck

Recommended by Mark Perkins, owner of Perkins & Associates.

Live Your Calling is an inspirational guide to help people find purpose, direction, and joy in their life and work. “No matter what stage in life you are at–high school, college, quarter-life transition, age-30 transition, midlife or retirement–Live Your Calling provides a practical guide to finding and fulfilling your mission in life,” the authors say.

Live Your Calling

Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi

Recommended by Roger W. Hughes, of counsel at Adams and Graham.

In 1643, the undefeated samurai Miyamoto Musashi wrote The Book of Five Rings, a text on kenjutsu and martial arts that has now reached a far broader audience than martial artists and people across East Asia. Musashi’s philosophy on turning a pursuit into a way of life has led people to apply the book’s teachings in various aspects of life, from martial arts to business.

Book of Five Rings

The Secret Sauce: 39 Tips for Improving Your Legal Writing Right Now by Stewart G. Milch

Recommended by the author, Stewart G. Milch, senior attorney at Cooper & Schully, P.C.

Writing is a crucial skill to have as a lawyer. If you want to improve your own without reading a dense, 100+-page guide, check out this book written by one of DRI’s members! This cut-to-the-chase, succinct, example-filled guide will help you improve your writing immediately. Milch says the guide offers “short, clear, concise, practical advice for making whatever you draft better.”

The Secret Sauce: 39 Tips for Improving Your Legal Writing Right Now

On the Brink by Dr. Andi Simon

Recommended by Toyja E. Kelley Sr., partner at Locke Lord LLP.

On the Brink discusses a business technique called corporate anthropology, and it includes stories of how companies have used corporate anthropology to develop effective responses to crises that are seriously impacting their business. “Dr. Andi Simon writes about how corporate anthropology encourages business leaders to step outside their day-to-day processes to observe not only how their enterprises operate, but also where unmet needs truly exist,” Kelley says. “I majored in cultural anthropology in college and the book is one of the first that I have read that ties in my academic major with my current professional life.”

On the Brink

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Recommended by Trey Bourn, partner at Butler Snow.

Viktor E. Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, authored this book in 1946 about his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. He describes his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life to feel positive about, and then imagining that outcome. Man's Search for Meaning belongs to a list of "the ten most influential books in the United States,” according to a survey conducted by the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Library of Congress. “No matter what happens there is always hope, but it is your choice,” Bourn says of the book.

Man's Search for Meaning

Interested in hearing more from DRI members? 

Check out our four member publications: For The Defense, The Brief Case: DRI Committee News, In-House Defense Quarterly, and The Voice. These publications offer thought leadership and insight to help civil defense lawyers with pressing litigation matters, along with professional development and career advancement guidance. Members can submit articles for consideration, allowing them to share their professional expertise with colleagues across the globe.

Court & Counsel: The DRI Blog is designed to complement your legal practice with relevant, high-quality, and original content tailored to lawyers and law firms.

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