Other Books To Read

I am planning to keep on updating with new books I come across, so you are invited to revisit this page every once in a while. These are the books I really like and truly recommend, try and see if you'll like them too.

Free books available from Google Books and other portals.

Just because the book is old, it does not always make it outdated. Thanks to the enthusiasts who scan these public-domain books, we can now read some rare or forgotten works, which are still holding their value.

I will start with Richard Harris. I don't know, why this name is not a household brand. It should be a world-famous, easily recognizable name, at least within the legal profession, yet I find that many people never heard of this author. I myself stumbled upon him only because of the Google Books Search, where his works popped-up in response to my keywords. So far, I haven't seen a Harris book of any lesser quality than truly majestic. But, since all journeys have to start with a first step, the first book to read of his should be the "Hints of Advocacy."

"Hints of Advocacy" is written so well, every other phrase can be a stand-alone citation. The observations hold true and are just as useful today as they were 130 years ago. For non-UK readers, just replace the word "Crown" with "Government" and you won't feel any antiquity in these very practical advices.

Below is the list of other Harris's books I have found. If you know about any other Harris work, not yet listed here, please send me a link, I would love to read it.

Mr. Bumpkin's Trial, or How to Win Your Opponent's Case. A great book with a critical view on many abuses existing in legal practice. Written about the time when English courts underwent some critical procedural reforms, it highlights some of the profession's obstacles and vices, which no reform have weeded out still. It is an easier read than the Hints, but don't read it first, or you may miss the highlights on the conduct of the involved advocates, for instance, why had Mr. Humble behaved the way he did. A curious note: the book already reflects the rule of providing free defense counsel to criminal defendants, some 80 years before the Gideon v. Wainwright case.

Before Trial: What Should Be Done By Client, Solicitor, & Counsel, From a Barrister's Point of View. The adjustments American attorney-reader has to make are very few: since we can be both a solicitor and a barrister, we just have to read and understand both of these roles' highlighted duties and pitfalls. In the Discovery section, you will may get surprised to meet familiar terms, like Special Interrogatories or a demand for Bill of Particulars. Turns out, these tools were not invented yesterday, but have been in regular practice 100+ years ago. Down to the astonishing detail that the time to respond to a demand for Bill of Particulars was 10 days, already back then, just as it is now (at least in California).
The second part of the book contains a very detailed, lengthy, and unapologetic essay on then-recently introduced defense of insanity; it is an interesting reading from the historical prospective and also as a sample of how an argument can be made entirely to the contrary of what the court's holding was. But unlike the first part of the book, the doctrine has developed and changed significantly since Harris time, so many of Harris's concerns have been answered since then.

Illustrations of Advocacy. Now, after you got familiar with the Hints of Advocacy, you are ready to digest a few illustrations on the subject. Treat this books as a workshop supplemental to the Hints, again a beautiful, easy to read, and hard to put down book.

Finally, before I move to other authors, there is an American edition, summarizing several of Harris's books, adding a couple of new chapters, and adapting the texts to the US practice: "A Treatise on American Advocacy" by Alexander Henry Robbins, based on Richard Harris's original works.

Benjamin N. Cardozo, has contributed to the judicial school of thought not only by his opinion in the Palsgraf case, but also by authoring several influential books, some of them already being a part of public domain and available for free, like this one:

The Nature of The Judicial Process. It is a 90 years old book, but human mind has not changed its clockwork since then, and, since judges are still human (no longer an obvious concept), the thoughts revealed in this book are fully applicable today. It is a must-read, for anyone who plans on making any meaningful appearance in the courtroom. The book is only 180 small and easy to read pages, and, for a litigator, it is as important to be at least remotely familiarized with as for a priest to know about Bible's existence.

If haven't guessed it already, other famous judicial authors' works are similarly freely available, for instance, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.: "The Common Law,""Speeches by Oliver Wendell Holmes,""Collected Legal Papers."

Cicero certainly needs no introduction, but here is why this name is on this list: his works have not changed much during the last century. This means that all his books are available free of charge, even translated in many languages. But what to chose and where to start? For myself, I decided to begin with a good biography, and had to go through 3 or 4 before I came across one I could not put down and read it from cover to cover: "Cicero: A Biography" by Torsten Petersson. This work is also an extensive bibliography of all Cicero works, providing a narrative description of what a particular book is about, while putting it into a historical context. By the same token, all authors of antiquity, whose works were still extant by early 20th century, are available.

Francis Lewis Wellman. "The Art of Cross-examination." In a pure spirit of Harris's accounts on how to crack a witness open and how to dissect a testimony, Wellman delivers his individual view on the same subject, a view worth reading about.

Serjeant Benjamin Coulson Robinson's "Bench and Bar" describes legal profession from a different angle--it is one practitioner's account of whom he met during his 50+ years of practice. The book is not too long, so only those worthy of notice are mentioned. The memoir does not stop at describing personalities, it reflects many changes in the practice, not only strictly legal, but also in fashions and views (a separate chapter covers how the Bar accepted, amended, or rejected the fashions of wigs, wig powder, mustaches, and beards). There is not much practical advice given in the book, but the book is definitely important as a historical documentary. Its pages are also full of good humor, which is so welcomed in any legal treatise. For instance, an unusual meaning is given to "De minimis non curat lex" maxim by an anecdote about two judges.

Me by the Sir Blackstone's portrait in his Inn, the Middle Temple

Sir William Blackstone. If Harris and Cardozo teach us about the thinking process, procedure, judicial economy, and psychology, Sir Blackstone explains the substance of the law, and in that great task he goes down to a very minute detail about most of the legal fields and kinds then existing. His books are easier to read in later editions, when "s" replaced the earlier "ʃ" symbol and the grammar and punctuation in general became more similar with what is in use today. However, I personally don't like to go too far from his original editions, preferring to read Blackstone in its original, unabridged form. Here are some sample scans of all four books of Commentaries on the Laws of England: Book 1, Book 2 (earlier or newer edition), Book 3, Book 4Where is Blackstone, there are Coke, Littleton, Bracton, and all other similarly great authors.

Other books.

If you want to witness a truly great case study of forensic discovery, read "Jesus Dynasty" by Dr. James Tabor. If this kind of unraveling is possible with 2000 y.o. gospels, imagine what can be done with a more recent production of documents. No religious belief is required, just read it as a sample of a great work with the available evidence. Although the book itself was not written to be a legal manual, it is a great one, and much more entertaining then many real manuals.

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