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Human Library reading list: Books about the life of a litigator
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CHARLESTON, S.C. - Defense attorney David Aylor gave firsthand accounts of what it's like defending South Carolina residents accused of crimes and how he works to maintain a meaningful status in the community during Saturday's Human Library Series event at Main Library.
"That one case shouldn't ruin a relationship," Aylor said about working against opposing counsel in a courtroom and maintaining a friendship with them after the case has ended. "There's times within a case things get very heated. I'm very close with a lot of people at the Solicitor's Office, Scarlett (Wilson) being one who I've been friends with for a long time. But if we have a disagreement, it's not going to look like we're very good friends sitting in that courtroom. But if you know us, you might see us the next day speaking together at a conference or having a cup of coffee because you just have to be able to separate themselves. At the end of the day you're really going to have a problem if you have that us-against-them mentality 24/7 because that one case is going to go away pretty quickly."
Aylor answered questions from the audience about working in a courtroom, handling different types of cases, and why some attorneys choose to advertise on TV.
Since 2007, Aylor has built a thriving law practice in the Lowcountry, and established a dynamic and experienced presence in the region. Local and national media outlets have solicited his legal analysis and opinions, and his extensive criminal and civil casework has been featured on national networks and publications as a result.
In addition to succeeding as a criminal defense attorney and civil litigator, Aylor is the acting prosecutor for the City of Hanahan, S.C. Prior to this appointment, he served as assistant solicitor in the Ninth Circuit Solicitor’s Office for Charleston County. Aylor's participation in the government sector provides him with a comprehensive view of how the law works on both sides of the courtroom.
In conjunction with the Human Library Series event, we've compiled a list of books, some fiction, some nonfiction, and even a law student textbook, that takes a look at life as an attorney with a collection of titles curated by CCPL staff.
A Lawyer’s Life by Johnnie Cochran
The most famous lawyer in America talks about the law, his life, and how he has won.
Johnnie Cochran has been a lawyer for almost forty years. In that time, he has taken on dozens of groundbreaking cases and emerged as a pivotal figure in race relations in America. Cochran gained international recognition as one of America's best - and most controversial lawyers - for leading 'the Dream Team' defense of accused killer O.J. Simpson in the Trial of the Century. Many people formed their perception of Cochran based on his work in that trial. But long before the Simpson trial andsince then Johnnie Cochran has been a leader in the fight for justice for all Americans. This is his story.
Cochran emerged from the trial as one of the nation's leading African-American spokespersons - and he has done most of his talking through the courtroom. Abner Louima. Amadou Diallo. The racially-profiled New Jersey Turnpike Four. Sean "P. Diddy" Combs. Patrick Dorismond. Cynthia Wiggins. These are the names that have dominated legal headlines - and Cochran was involved with each of them. No one who first encountered him during the Simpson trial can appreciate his impact on our world until they've read his whole story.
A Higher Loyalty by James Comey
In his book, former FBI director James Comey shares his never-before-told experiences from some of the highest-stakes situations of his career in the past two decades of American government, exploring what good, ethical leadership looks like, and how it drives sound decisions. His journey provides an unprecedented entry into the corridors of power, and a remarkable lesson in what makes an effective leader.
Mr. Comey served as director of the FBI from 2013 to 2017, appointed to the post by President Barack Obama. He previously served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and the U.S. deputy attorney general in the administration of President George W. Bush. From prosecuting the Mafia and Martha Stewart to helping change the Bush administration's policies on torture and electronic surveillance, overseeing the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation as well as ties between the Trumpcampaign and Russia, Comey has been involved in some of the most consequential cases and policies of recent history.
Thinking Like a Lawyer: A new introduction to legal reasoning by Frederick F. Schauer
This primer on legal reasoning is aimed at law students and upper-level undergraduates. But it is also an original exposition of basic legal concepts that scholars and lawyers will find stimulating. It covers such topics as rules, precedent, authority, analogical reasoning, the common law, statutory interpretation, legal realism, judicial opinions, legal facts, and burden of proof. In addressing the question whether legal reasoning is distinctive, Frederick Schauer emphasizes the formality and rule-dependence of law. When taking the words of a statute seriously, when following a rule even when it does not produce the best result, when treating the fact of a past decision as a reason for making the same decision again, or when relying on authoritative sources, the law embodies values other than simply that of making the best decision for the particular occasion or dispute. In thus pursuing goals of stability, predictability, and constraint on the idiosyncrasies of individual decision-makers, the law employs forms of reasoning that may not be unique to it but are far more dominant in legal decision-making than elsewhere. Schauer’s analysis of what makes legal reasoning special will be a valuable guide for students while also presenting a challenge to a wide range of current academic theories.
The Tradition of Natural Law: A philosopher’s reflections by Yves R. Simon
The tradition of natural law is one of the foundations of Western civilization. At its heart is the conviction that there is an objective and universal justice which transcends humanity's particular expressions of justice. It asserts that there are certain ways of behaving which are appropriate to humanity simply by virtue of the fact that we are all human beings. Recent political debates indicate that it is not a tradition that has gone unchallenged: in fact, the opposition is as old as the tradition itself.
By distinguishing between philosophy and ideology, by recalling the historical adventures of natural law, and by reviewing the theoretical problems involved in the doctrine, Simon clarifies much of the confusion surrounding this perennial debate. He tackles the questions raised by the application of natural law with skill and honesty as he faces the difficulties of the subject.
Simon warns against undue optimism in a revival of interest in natural law and insists that the study of natural law beings with the analysis of "the law of the land." He writes not as a polemicist but as a philosopher, and he writes of natural law with the same force, conciseness, lucidity and simplicity which have distinguished all his other works.
The Lawyer’s Myth: Reviving ideals in the legal profession by Walter Bennett
Lawyers today are in a moral crisis. The popular perception of the lawyer, both within the legal community and beyond, is no longer the Abe Lincoln of American mythology, but is often a greedy, cynical manipulator of access and power. In The Lawyer's Myth, Walter Bennett goes beyond the caricatures to explore the deeper causes of why lawyers are losing their profession and what it will take to bring it back.
Bennett draws on his experience as a lawyer, judge, and law teacher, as well as upon oral histories of lawyers and judges, in his exploration of how and why the legal profession has lost its ennobling mythology. Effectively using examples from history, philosophy, psychology, mythology, and literature, Bennett shows that the loss of professionalism is more than merely the emergence of win-at-all-cost strategies and a scramble for personal wealth. It is something more profound--a loss of professional community and soul. Bennett identifies the old heroic myths of American lawyers and shows how they informed the values of professionalism through the middle of the last century. He shows why, in our more diverse society, those myths are inadequate guides for today's lawyers. And he also discusses the profession's agony over its trickster image and demonstrates how that archetype is not only a psychological reality, but a necessary component of a vibrant professional mythology for lawyers.
At the heart of Bennett's eloquently written book is a call to reinvigorate the legal professional community. To do this, lawyers must revive their creative capacities and develop a meaningful, professional mythology--one based on a deeper understanding of professionalism and a broader, more compassionate ideal of justice.
The Happy Lawyer: Making a good life in the law by Nancy Levit & Douglas O. Linder
You get good grades in college, pay a small fortune to put yourself through law school, study hard to pass the bar exam, and finally land a high-paying job in a prestigious firm. You're happy, right? Not really. Oh, it beats laying asphalt, but after all your hard work, you expected more fromyour job. What gives?
The Happy Lawyer examines the causes of dissatisfaction among lawyers, and then charts possible paths to happier and more fulfilling careers in law. Eschewing a one-size-fits-all approach, it shows how maximizing our chances for achieving happiness depends on understanding our own personality types,values, strengths, and interests.Covering everything from brain chemistry and the science of happiness to the workings of the modern law firm, Nancy Levit and Doug Linder provide invaluable insights for both aspiring and working lawyers.
For law students, they offer surprising suggestions for selecting a law school that maximizesyour long-term happiness prospects. For those about to embark on a legal career, they tell you what happiness research says about which potential jobs hold the most promise. For working lawyers, they offer a handy toolbox--a set of easily understandable steps--that can boost career happiness. Finally, for firm managers, they offer a range of approaches for remaking a firm into a more satisfying workplace.Read this book and you will know whether you are more likely to be a happy lawyer at age 30 or age 60, why you can tell a lot about a firm from looking at its walls and windows, whether a 10 percent raise or a new office with a view does more for your happiness, and whether the happiness prospectsare better in large or small firms. No book can guarantee a happier career, but for lawyers of all ages and stripes, The Happy Lawyer may give you your best shot.
The Unhappy Lawyer will help you uncover exciting alternative careers with a unique step-by-step program that will make you feel like you have your very own career coach. With chapters containing real letters from lawyers who are desperate to leave the practice of law, tales from lawyers who have shut the door on their legal careers, and powerful exercises, The Unhappy Lawyer provides a witty, no-nonsense roadmap for finding and pursuing engaging work outside of the law.
The Unhappy Lawyer will show you, step-by-step, how to:
- Figure out what you really want from your work and life
- Discover several career possibilities that excite you
- Immerse yourself in career possibilities that allow you to use your natural talents
- And much, much more.
The Unhappy Lawyer provides you with the escape route you are seeking. This book helps you ask and answer the hard questions about what you really want from your work and life and will help you successfully pursue your career goals.
Attorneys: From Charles Town to Charleston by Ruth W. Cupp
This is a fascinating narrative of the history of the Charleston County Bar Association, one of the oldest and most interesting in the nation. Interesting cases,stories and people highlight this work.
An anthology of biographies and accompanying photographs documenting and detailing the women who first broke the gender barriers of South Carolina law, "Portia Steps Up to the Bar: The First Women Lawyers of South Carolina," explores how each individual woman set her own groundbreaking path, opening doors that were closed to previous generations of women, and setting the feminine trend of practicing law in South Carolina.
From the first woman admitted to the bar in 1918, through decades of women pioneering for shared recognition in a predominantly masculine career field, Ruth Cupp explores these steadfast women until the mid 1970's. A compilation reflecting sixty years and the growing trend of women practicing law in South Carolina, "Portia Steps Up to the Bar: The First Women Lawyers of South Carolina," explores 129 extraordinary women who re-wrote the rules of their chosen profession and paved the way for generations to follow.
Angel of Death Row: My life as a death penalty defense lawyer by Andrea D. Lyon
Andrea Lyon's account of her groundbreaking career amounts to a primer on the criminal justice system and the death penalty in particular. What it reveals is often horrifying, but Andrea's writing is so infused with empathy and humor that the reader comes away both wiser to the ways of injustice and inspired by the difference one person can make. The stories of her life and her cases expose flawed humanity on all sides, as well as breathtaking largeness of heart. And make no mistake, Andrea's compassion for the victims of crime is no less than her compassion for the defendants.
What Lincoln Believed by Michael Lind
Few biographers and historians have taken Lincoln’s ideas seriously or placed him in the context of major intellectual traditions. In What Lincoln Believed, the most comprehensive study ever written of the thought of America’s most revered president, Michael Lind provides a resource to the public philosophy that guided Lincoln as a statesman and shaped the United States. Although he is often presented as an idealist dedicated to political abstractions, Lincoln was a pragmatic politician with a lifelong interest in science, technology, and economics. Throughout his career he was a disciple of the Kentucky senator Henry Clay, whose “American System” of government support for industrial capitalism Lincoln promoted when he served in the Illinois statehouse, the U.S. Congress, and the White House.
Today Lincoln is remembered for his opposition to slavery and his leadership in guiding the Union to victory in the Civil War. But Lincoln’s thinking about these subjects is widely misunderstood. His deep opposition to slavery was rooted in his allegiance to the ideals of the American Revolution. Only late in his life, however, did Lincoln abandon his support for the policy of “colonizing” black Americans abroad, which he derived from Henry Clay and Thomas Jefferson. Lincoln and most of his fellow Republicans opposed the extension of slavery outside of the South because they wanted an all-white West, not a racially integrated society. Although the Great Emancipator was not the Great Integrationist, he was the Great Democrat. In an age in which many argued that only whites were capable of republican government, Lincoln insisted on the universality of human rights and the potential for democracy everywhere.
In a century in which liberal and democratic revolutions against monarchy and dictatorship in Europe and Latin America repeatedly had failed, Lincoln believed that liberal democracy as a form of government was on trial in the American Civil War. “Our popular government has often been called an experiment,” Lincoln told the U.S. Congress, insisting that the American people had to prove to the world that “when ballots have fairly, and constitutionally, decided, there can be no successful appeal, back to bullets.” If the United States fell apart after the losers in an election took up arms, then people everywhere might conclude that democracy inevitably led to anarchy and “government of the people, by the people, for the people” might well “perish from the earth.” “He loved his country partly because it was his own country, but mostly because it was a free country.” What Lincoln said of Henry Clay could be said of him as well. InWhat Lincoln Believed, Michael Lind shows the enduring relevance of Lincoln’s vision of the United States as a model of liberty and democracy for the world.
Lincoln the Lawyer by Brian Dirck
Despite historians' focus on the man as president and politician, Abraham Lincoln lived most of his adult life as a practicing lawyer. It was as a lawyer that he fed his family, made his reputation, bonded with Illinois, and began his political career. Lawyering was also how Lincoln learned to become an expert mediator between angry antagonists, as he applied his knowledge of the law and of human nature to settle one dispute after another. Frontier lawyers worked hard to establish respect for the law and encourage people to resolve their differences without intimidation or violence. These were the very skills Lincoln used so deftly to hold a crumbling nation together during his presidency.
The growth of Lincoln's practice attests to the trust he was able to inspire, and his travels from court to court taught him much about the people and land of Illinois. Lincoln the Lawyer explores the origins of Lincoln's desire to practice law, his legal education, his partnerships with John Stuart, Stephen Logan, and William Herndon, and the maturation of his far-flung practice in the 1840s and 1850s. Brian Dirck provides a context for law as it was practiced in mid-century Illinois and evaluates Lincoln's merits as an attorney by comparison with his peers. He examines Lincoln's clientele, his circuit practice, his views on legal ethics, and the supposition that he never defended a client he knew to be guilty. This approach allows readers not only to consider Lincoln as he lived his life--it also shows them how the law was used and developed in Lincoln's lifetime, how Lincoln charged his clients, how he was paid, and how he addressed judge and jury.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A haunting portrait of race and class, innocence and injustice, hypocrisy and heroism, tradition and transformation in the Deep South of the 1930s, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird remains as important today as it was upon its initial publication in 1960, during the turbulent years of the Civil Rights movement.
Now, this most beloved and acclaimed novel is reborn for a new age as a gorgeous graphic novel. Scout, Jem, Boo Radley, Atticus Finch, and the small town of Maycomb, Alabama, are all captured in vivid and moving illustrations by artist Fred Fordham.
Enduring in vision, Harper Lee's timeless novel illuminates the complexities of human nature and the depths of the human heart with humor, unwavering honesty, and a tender, nostalgic beauty. Lifetime admirers and new readers alike will be touched by this special visual edition that joins the ranks of the graphic novel adaptations of A Wrinkle in Time and The Alchemist.
The House Girl by Tara Conklin
The House Girl, the historical fiction debut by Tara Conklin, is an unforgettable story of love, history, and a search for justice, set in modern-day New York and 1852 Virginia.
Weaving together the story of an escaped slave in the pre-Civil War South and a determined junior lawyer, The House Girl follows Lina Sparrow as she looks for an appropriate lead plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking compensation for families of slaves. In her research, she learns about Lu Anne Bell, a renowned prewar artist whose famous works might have actually been painted by her slave, Josephine.
Featuring two remarkable, unforgettable heroines, Tara Conklin's The House Girl is riveting and powerful, literary fiction at its very best.
My Sister’s Keeper by by Jodi Picoult
New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult is widely acclaimed for her keen insights into the hearts and minds of real people. Now she tells the emotionally riveting story of a family torn apart by conflicting needs and a passionate love that triumphs over human weakness. Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood.
The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate -- a life and a role that she has never challenged...until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister -- and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.
My Sister's Keeper examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child's life, even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Is it worth trying to discover who you really are, if that quest makes you like yourself less? Should you follow your own heart, or let others lead you? Once again, in My Sister's Keeper, Jodi Picoult tackles a controversial real-life subject with grace, wisdom, and sensitivity.
Just Mercy : A story of justice and redemption by Bryan Stevenson
A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice--from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.
Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn't commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship--and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.
Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer's coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.
Until We Are Free: My fight for human rights in Iran by Shirin Ebadi
The first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Shirin Ebadi has inspired millions around the globe through her work as a human rights lawyer defending women and children against a brutal regime in Iran. Now Ebadi tells her story of courage and defiance in the face of a government out to destroy her, her family, and her mission: to bring justice to the people and the country she loves.
For years the Islamic Republic tried to intimidate Ebadi, but after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rose to power in 2005, the censorship and persecution intensified. The government wiretapped Ebadi's phones, bugged her law firm, sent spies to follow her, harassed her colleagues, detained her daughter, and arrested her sister on trumped-up charges. It shut down her lectures, fired up mobs to attack her home, seized her offices, and nailed a death threat to her front door. Despite finding herself living under circumstances reminiscent of a spy novel, nothing could keep Ebadi from speaking out and standing up for human dignity.
But it was not until she received a phone call from her distraught husband--and he made a shocking confession that would all but destroy her family--that she realized what the intelligence apparatus was capable of to silence its critics. The Iranian government would end up taking everything from Shirin Ebadi--her marriage, friends, and colleagues, her home, her legal career, even her Nobel Prize--but the one thing it could never steal was her spirit to fight for justice and a better future. This is the amazing, at times harrowing, simply astonishing story of a woman who would never give up, no matter the risks. Just as her words and deeds have inspired a nation, Until We Are Free will inspire you to find the courage to stand up for your beliefs.