12 Interesting Career Books for Lawyers (and Aspiring Lawyers)

Fresh ideas for a happier, more sustainable career

Young woman reading book
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Lawyers spend tons of time reading for work, but it’s worth it to make some time for career-related reading, too. After all, most people spend more time planning a vacation than strategizing about their career path! 

Books to read for career success

If you’ve got a bit of spare time, check out these interesting book suggestions for your legal career:

  1. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck. If you only read one book on this list, make it Mindset. Carol explains her research on a growth vs. a fixed mindset and outlines the repercussions for career, life, and more. In a nutshell, having (or developing) a growth mindset can improve happiness and lead to greater success in all aspects of life. Well worth a read!
  1. So Good They Can’t Ignore You, by Cal Newport. If you’re tired of people telling you to “follow your passion!” this is the book for you. Cal makes a solid case that developing in-demand skills, and parlaying those skills into greater leverage over your career, is the key to career success and happiness. If you’re looking for a new way to think about career development, this is the book for you.
  2. The Startup of You, by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha. Written by the founder of LinkedIn, this book is a career manifesto for the 21st Century. As the book argues, the “career elevator” has stopped. Few people take an entry-level job, climb the ranks, and retire from the same organization 30 years later. Thinking of your career as a startup can open up new avenues for advancement, and will help ensure you’re never left behind when your company or firm changes course. 
  3. The Four-Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferris. If you’re used to thinking about your career in terms of billable hours, this book is a revelation. Although a work week of exactly four hours probably isn’t realistic for anyone, the basic concept — that you’re better off developing a product or business that can support you instead of trading your time for money in perpetuity — is a valid one. Even if it only makes you momentarily question the validity of the billable hour model, it’s worth a read!
  1. Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live, by Martha Beck. Written by “Oprah’s life coach,” this is an interesting model of how to find the work and career that’s right for you, by paying careful attention to your reactions (bodily or otherwise) to different tasks and people. It also includes a useful Map of Change, which lays out the different steps that tend to happen as people move closer to their ideal path. 
  1. All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending, by Laura Vanderkam. It’s no secret that many lawyers are in it for the money. But, is it really worth it? This book offers a new way to think about getting and spending money, with a goal of greater career and life satisfaction.
  2. Transforming Practices: Finding Joy and Satisfaction in the Legal Life, by Steven Keeva. If you’re feeling dissatisfied with your legal career, this is the grand dame of lawyer self-help books. 
  3. Lawyer, Know Thyself: A Psychological Analysis of Personality Strengths and Weaknesses, by Susan Swaim Daicoff. An interesting overview of the “lawyer personality” and the problems it causes — personally and professionally.
  4. The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in Crisis, by Steven Harper. An interesting and important read connecting an oversupply of lawyers, increasing career dissatisfaction among attorneys, and the imploding of several well-known law firms. BigLaw focused, but worth a look!
  5. Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future, by Richard Susskind. A short, readable introduction to many of the challenges the legal profession will face for the next 30 years. I reviewed Tomorrow’s Lawyers here if you’d like more info. 
  1. The Happy Lawyer: Making a Good Life in the Law, by Nancy Levit and Douglas O. Linder. If the prior couple of books depressed you, check out The Happy Lawyer. It explores the root causes of attorney dissatisfaction and offers suggestions for aspiring lawyers, law students, and practicing attorneys on how to be happier and more content working as a lawyer. 
  2. The Anxious Lawyer, by Jeena Cho and Karen Gifford. Mindfulness is in the news a lot lately, and lawyers are even jumping on board. The Anxious Lawyer is an 8-week guide to creating a happier, more sustainable law practice using meditation. 

Whether you're looking for a happier law practice or ideas on what else to do next, you'll find them in the books above. Enjoy!