Useful Books and Websites

Studying law is not simply a matter of acquiring knowledge. It is also about developing a set of skills. To study and learn effectively, and to do well in assessment tasks, you will need to develop a set of specific academic skills.

The links below provide you with some of the best print and internet resources available for guiding the development of academic and English language skills for studying law.

Your law subjects aim to guide you in developing legal reasoning and problem-solving skills, and an ability to analyse facts, and read and apply legal rules. Some useful resources introducing legal methods and problem-solving are listed below.

Studying and Learning Law

As JD students you will have a range of recent or perhaps distant learning experiences to draw on. Every student has their own learning styles, preferences and strategies.

Studying law and developing the academic and communication skills required to excel in your studies and in your professional life presents its own set of challenges. At the beginning, for instance, the challenge of reading law texts, journal articles, cases and statutes can seem overwhelming. And then there is the volume of reading.

The following resources offer sound strategies for:

  • Developing a study plan
  • Managing time and tasks, balancing work and study
  • Reading law (eg., cases) efficiently and making effective notes
  • Legal problem-solving
  • Researching law
  • Writing in law
  • Writing for assessment
  • Preparing and performing in exams

Study skills – law specific

Study skills – general

  • Ann G. Dillon, Making connections: study skills, reading, and writing (2007)
    UniM ERC – 378.170281 DILL
  • Lorraine Marshall, A learning companion: your guide to practising independent learning (2006)
    UniM ERC – 378.170281 MARS
  • Catherine Dawson, Learning how to study again: a practical guide to study skills for mature students returning to education or distance learning (2004)
    UniM ERC – 378.17 DAWS
  • Mike Metcalfe, Reading critically at university (2006)
    UniM ERC – 378.170281 METC

Monash University Language and Learning online:

Critical thinking

  • Tracy Bowell and Gary Kemp, Critical thinking: a concise guide (2005)
    UniM Baill / ERC – 160 BOWE
  • Michael Head and Scott Mann, Law in perspective: ethics, society and critical thinking (2005)
    UniM Law – KA 60 HEAD

Legal Vocabulary and Dictionaries

Largely, your ability to learn law and communicate effectively in seminars, assessment task, exams, and in practice, relies on your knowledge and understanding of legal vocabulary. Law is a discipline and profession that is built around words and their precise meanings. Developing a strong legal vocabulary should be central to your study routine and efforts. A good legal dictionary is essential. Some print and online options are listed below.

UniM Law – K 126 L3 BUTT Recommended legal dictionary

Writing Skills

Indirectly, while studying law, you are being asked to develop a challenging range of communication skills that will allow you to understand law, present arguments and legal analysis in assessment tasks and exams, and eventually perform well within professional legal contexts.

The following books and online resources can help with all aspects of legal and academic writing. I suggest that you put in some time and effort with any of these resources that appeals to you and seems helpful.

Remember: developing strong writing skills doesn't have to be a matter of trial and error.

Writing skills – law specific

Writing skills – ESL & language focus for law

  • Michael Meehan, Graham Tulloch, Grammar for lawyers (2007)
  • UniM Law – K 100 MEEH *** Recommended guide to grammar and writing for law
  • C. van der Walt, A.G. Nienaber, English for law students (2002)
  • UniM Law – K 100 VAND

Writing skills – general academic

English Expression and Grammar

Language and communication is fundamental to the discipline and practice of law. If you are studying law and English is not your first language consider building a 'language development strategy' into your study routine. This means thinking about how you are going to improve your general and academic vocabulary, strengthen your grammar for writing, and even developing listening and speaking proficiency.

English Language Resources

Speaking and Listening Skills