What should I be reading?

One of the purposes of applying for law is to highlight things the legal dimensions of current issues that you might want to think about if you are thinking of (or are) studying Law. The blog  focuses specifically on recent developments – not least as a way of showing how much of what happens in the world around us raises legal issues.

Being aware of current legal issues is important, not least because it helps prospective Law students to begin to think about relevant matters, and to start seeing the world from a legal perspective. But it is also useful to read more widely: to get a sense of what it is like to be a Law student, and to get a sense of the type of subjects you will end up studying if you do a Law degree. Two books (I think) form a particularly good starting-point. (Full disclosure: both books are by colleagues of mine in the Cambridge Law Faculty, and I wrote a chapter in one of the books.)

Letters to a Law Student addresses a range of issues about applying to study Law – and actually studying Law – at University. It is likely to be helpful if you are not yet sure whether Law is the right subject for you; if you want to know what being a Law student is like; or if you are starting out as a Law student and need help with getting to the study of Law. The focus is not on any particular of Law as a subject – but it gives a great insight into the sort of things that Law students do, the types of skills that they require (or are required to develop), and, in general terms, what a Law degree course involves. More information about Letters to a Law Student can be found by looking at the publisher’s website.

What About Law? focuses on the seven “foundation subjects” – that is, the seven subjects that Law students have to cover so that their degree counts towards their professional qualification as a barrister or solicitor. Each chapter therefore focuses on one of those subjects – constitutional law, criminal law, tort, contract, land law, equity and trusts and EU law. In particular, each chapter examines the relevant subject by looking in detail at a key case, using the case as a launching pad for an exploration of issues and concepts that are core to the area of law concerned. The book is addressed to those who have never studied Law before, but gives a taste of the sort of ideas and arguments with which Law students engage. For more information, see the book’s website.

These books are worth starting with because they are specifically written for people who are thinking about studying, or who are just starting to study, Law. There is, of course, a wealth of other literature available – and applying for law will point you towards relevant books, articles and internet resources in the course of highlighting and discussing current legal issues. But for a good, general source of information about Law-related current events, the Law section of the Guardian newspaper’s website is an excellent starting point; Joshua Rozenberg’s posts are particularly worth reading.

See also this post for advice on reading from a recent Law graduate.

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