Which books are ‘must-haves’ for paralegals?

While online information has become the go-to resource in almost all professions, there is something to be said for the value of books. The list below is comprised of publications focused on three categories of the paralegal field: the career itself; the litigation aspect of the work; and reference manuals for professional paralegal writing.

The Paralegal Career

The Professional Paralegal: A Guide to Finding a Job and Career Success
by Charlyse Smith Diaz

This is more than just a beginner’s guide to the paralegal career. It covers more than just how to land a job; it shows how to prepare for and build a paralegal career. Taking a practical approach, it explains the dynamics of working in the legal environment, identifies the purpose and payoff of continual professional development, and offers strategies for working collaboratively with attorneys and others drawn into a case. Each chapter integrates ethics tips, checklists for success, and end-of-chapter questions. Covering a full range of career issues, it offers advice on how to land your first paralegal job, develop marketable workplace habits, and establish yourself in the paralegal profession.

Lessons from the Top Paralegal Experts: The 15 Most Successful Paralegals and What You Can Learn From Them
by Carole A. Bruno

This book is aimed at both seasoned professionals and newcomers to the paralegal field. It presents hands-on techniques recommended by paralegal leaders. These 15 experts share the secrets that have allowed them to reach the top of their profession. They discuss how to more efficiently and productively perform paralegal duties and address how to apply technical knowledge, creativity, leadership, mentoring, and organization skills to the profession.

Surviving and Thriving in the Law Office
by Richard L. Hughes

Written by a former attorney who is now a paralegal educator, Surviving and Thriving in the Law Office is perhaps the quintessential career guide for new paralegals and paralegal students. The manuscript describes real-life law-office situations and how to handle them. It helps students understand what they need to overcome the most common obstacles, and provides invaluable insight into what law firms want from paralegal staff. Subjects addressed in detail include finding the right paralegal job, producing high-quality work, managing time efficiently, understanding billable hours, dealing with office politics, asking for a raise, and advancing in the paralegal profession.

The Independent Paralegal’s Handbook: Everything You Need to Run a Business Preparing Legal Paperwork for the Public - 5th Edition
by Ralph E. Warner

Ralph Warner’s The Independent Paralegal’s Handbook is billed as a how-to-guide for people who want to work on their own rather than as part of a law office. The book is a road map for a profession that has grown and evolved in recent decades, as consumers opt to avoid intermediaries (lawyers) and handle their own legal matters in such areas as bankruptcy, personal injury settlements, and divorce – all with the help of paralegals. This manuscript is aimed at already-trained paralegals or legal secretaries and focuses on the challenges, pitfalls, and triumphs of starting an independent paralegal business. It reminds readers that among the potential pitfalls are harassment from bar associations and lawyers who fear that their monopoly over legal information is slipping away. It reminds them, too, that paralegals cannot give legal advice because they are not licensed to practise law.

The book covers which types of legal documentation an independent paralegal can safely and profitably prepare; how to inform customers that you are not a lawyer; how to minimize the chance of harassment by the bar; how to get the necessary training to work as an independent paralegal; and how much to charge for services.

Paralegal Litigation

Fundamentals of Litigation for Paralegals
by Marlene A. Maerowitz and Thomas A. Mauet

This book walks readers through the entire process of litigation, starting with the moment the client enters the office through trial and post-judgment. It includes examples, case scenarios, actual documents, settlements, and alternative forms of dispute resolution.

Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges
by Antonin Scalia and Bryan A. Garner

Co-written by Antonin Scalia, a former U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges is an informative guide for novice and experienced litigators alike. The manuscript addresses how to craft an argument with legal reasoning, examines the art of brief writing, and demonstrates how to succeed in an oral argument.

How to Argue & Win Every Time: At Home, At Work, In Court, Everywhere, Everyday
by Gerry Spence

Gerry Spence has worked as both prosecutor and defense attorney. His success rate in both roles is remarkable. His book presents the laws of arguing according to Gerry Spence:

  • Everyone is capable of making the winning argument.
  • Winning is getting what we want, which also means helping ‘others’ get what they want.
  • Learn that words are a weapon, and can be used hostilely in combat.
  • Know that there is always a ‘biological advantage’ of delivering the TRUTH.
  • Assault is not argument.
  • Use fear as an ally in public speaking or in argument. Learn to convert its energy.
  • Let emotions show and don't discourage passion.
  • Don't be blinded by brilliance.
  • Learn to speak with the body. The body sometimes speaks more powerfully than words.
  • Know that the enemy is not the person with whom we are engaged in a failing argument, but the vision within ourselves.

Paralegal Writing

The Elements of Legal Style
by Bryan A. Garner

Inspired by the timeless The Elements of Style, first published by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White in 1959, Garner’s book explains the full range of what legal writers need to know: mechanics, word choice, structure, rhetoric; as well as the conventions of usage of headings, defined terms, quotations, and other devices. The author uses many examples from the best legal writers of yesterday and today, including Oliver Wendell Holmes, Clarence Darrow, Frank Easterbrook, and Antonin Scalia. The Elements of Legal Style is an essential resource for anyone in the legal field seeking to make their writing more precise, more persuasive, and more stylish.

The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style
by Bryan A. Garner

Since it was first published in 2002, The Redbook has established itself as the most authoritative, comprehensive, and easily usable manual of legal style. It covers punctuation, capitalization, grammar, prose style, and clarity in general. The book includes contributions from all six lawyers at LawProse Inc..

Black’s Law Dictionary
by Bryan A. Garner

Long the gold standard for the language of law, Black’s Law Dictionary is the most widely cited law book in the world. Editor-in-Chief Bryan A. Garner, the world’s leading legal lexicographer, has compiled more than 50,000 terms in the latest edition. Every term in Black’s has been reviewed for accuracy by attorneys across the United States. The book also includes definitions of more than 1,000 law-related abbreviations and acronyms; as well as thoroughly reviewed Latin maxims, with a pronunciation guide.

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