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Posted April 25, 2022

6 books to read before starting an LLM course

LLM booksThe idea of pursuing an LLM certainly sounds like a challenge to many.

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It is common knowledge that the LLM has a reputation for being highly rigorous, however help is available. If you’re thinking about applying for an LLM, or if you’ve just been accepted on an LLM program (congratulations!) and want to find the best books to help you get a head start on your LLM journey, then this article is for you, as it will hep you prepare yourself for your LLM degree. Here we highlight the best LLM-related books to get you started on your LLM journey.

If you’re wondering if an LLM is for you…

About Law by Tony Honoré

This book provides a great overview of the entire western tradition of law and introduces you to the various branches of law ranging from constitutional to contract law. If you’ve never read law before, but are wondering if an LLM is the right next step for you, then this book is probably the easy-to-read guide you’ve been looking for. Honoré steers clear of technical terms, so you can just focus on understanding what the field of law is about without getting lost in all the jargon.

If you’re looking for a fictional classic…

The Trial by Franz Kafka

An alternative read to Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”, this fictional legal drama will whet your appetite for what’s to come in your LLM tutorial classes. In this tale, a man is arrested and prosecuted by a remote authority. The twist? Both the accused and the reader are left in the dark as to his charges. As Kafka did not finish the book, there’s plenty of room for you to discuss alternative ideas you may have on how the case should be solved.

If you’re trying to get back into the rigour of academia…

Using A Law Library: A Student’s Guide To Legal Research Skills by Peter Clinch

LLMs, like most other postgraduate programs, tend to be research heavy. If you’re looking for a practical handbook on how to make the most of the resources at your disposal (and maximise your grades!), then Peter Clinch’s Using a Law Library: A Student’s Guide to Legal Research Skills is must-read. The book focuses on the legal systems in England, Scotland, Wales and the European nations, and includes easy-to-follow headers and diagrams to help you master key research skills with ease. The book also provides tips on how to navigate e-resources, which is especially useful if you’re studying online.

If you’re looking for tips from a law school veteran…

Letters To A Law Student: A Guide To Studying Law At University by Nicholas McBride

If you want to hear about managing LLM schoolwork straight from the horse’s mouth, then this is the book for you. The book is made up of a series of letters to a fictional student on how to manage studying law. The letters offer tips on how you can be at the top of your game with managing schoolwork and answer common questions on what studying law is all about. A light-hearted read for those about to start an LLM course or who are wondering if this is the right postgraduate program for them.

If you’re looking to be inspired…

Madame Prosecutor Confrontations With Humanity's Worst Criminals And The Culture Of Impunity by Carla Del Ponte

This book follows the story of the author herself, Carla Del Ponte, who served as the chief prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia from 1999 to 2007. The autobiography explores the trials and tribulations that Carla faced in prosecuting violent war criminals. This courageous memoir sheds light on how legal work can be used to bring justice for the most vulnerable groups, and is a must-read if you’re looking to feel inspired about the possibilities an LLM could bring about.

If you’re looking for a roundup of the classics…

Is Eating People Wrong? Great Legal Cases And How They Shaped The World by Allan Hutchinson

This book explores eight of the most influential legal cases of all time from Australia, America and the UK.  It provides a deep dive into the historical and social backgrounds of how cases developed in the first place. But more interestingly, it delves into how lawyers, judges and courts alike worked together to shape the law as it exists today. An excellent collection of examples that illustrate how the law is a dynamic and constantly evolving field.

In summary…

There’s no way to be 100% prepared for any postgraduate program. But reading widely about the course before the term starts is a good bet to help you find your bearings before you roll up your sleeves and get down to work. These six law-based fiction and non-fiction titles are sure to provide you with a range of perspectives on what law is about and boost your confidence so that you can ace your LLM course.

Alisa student writerWriter: Alisa Maya is a graduate student at the UCL Institute of Education.

She is passionate about improving learning experiences for all through EdTech.

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