Friday, November 13, 2009

Christmas gifts for law students and lawyers

NOTE:  This article was so popular that I decided to publish a second article, which you can find here.

Christmas is right around the corner and you may be wondering what to buy a law student or lawyer you know. Here are a few lower-priced suggestions available from

My rationale for these gifts is below. Note that I am a law student and I personally have purchased items 1 through 7 and enjoy owning them. I do not own items 8 through 10, but would be quite pleased if I did, and believe many other law students and lawyers would, as well.

1) Ok, so this first suggestion may be geographically biased against those who don't live in the USA, but the pocket-sized copy of the United States Constitution is something no lawyer should go without. Every member of the bar ought to always be able to have in their pocket a copy of the supreme law of the land to which all laws they enforce are subject, and from which all laws they enforce are derived. This shouldn't be the main gift you buy for your special law student or lawyer, but at a low price of $4.95, and with such a small size, this gift makes a perfect stocking stuffer.

2) A copy of Cicero's Defence Speeches. Rome's Cicero is considered one of the greatest orators of antiquity, and just happened to be a lawyer as well. The Oxford University Press has compiled his speeches into a single book, which any law student or lawyer who enjoys good courtroom rhetoric ought to like. It's not uncommon to see courts including the Supreme Court of the United States quoting Cicero, or referring back to "Cicero's time." This makes his speeches of considerable importance to anybody who wants to have a greater understanding of what the courts refer to when they talk about Cicero. This is an English translation, so there is no need for the reader to know Latin.

3) The Federalist Papers. Once again, a geographically biased suggestion. For those law students and lawyers within the United States, this book contains the argument by the Founding Fathers for the very existence of the modern US political and legal system as we know it, written before Americans could even agree on what the Constitution ought to say. The authors are Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. These essays are routinely cited in constitutional cases, so it's a good idea for a litigator to have a copy of them.

4) Witness for the Prosecution, because Sir Wilfred Robarts, barrister, is one of the most humorous lawyer characters the film world will ever see.

5) Inherit the Wind, a classic about one of the most significant trials in American history. It was listed in the American Bar Association Journal as one of the twelve best trial movies.

6) Anatomy of a Murder, because everyone loves Jimmy Stewart, and his use of small town charm to manipulate a jury is entertaining. Like Inherit the Wind, this film was also listed in the American Bar Association Journal as one of the twelve best trial movies.

7) Sum & Substance Torts Audiobook series, because these are some of the most popular audio law lectures in countries with an English legal heritage for first year law students, and because Stephen Finz, the lecturer who at one point sings a song about choking on a chicken bone to demonstrate when one is and is not liable for another's injuries, is hilarious. The law student who receives this as a Christmas gift will be better positioned to pass their exams than if they don't receive it. This is only really for law students as lawyers should already know the material in here (or if they don't, they really shouldn't be lawyers).

8) A rolling briefcase. Ever been around a courthouse? If so, you have probably noticed that briefcases with wheels are proliferating more and more in the legal world these days. The amount of cases and other forms that a lawyer or law student assisting a lawyer has to lug around from courtroom to courtroom makes one of these briefcases far more desirable than the average briefcase, and saves the user from a lot of back pain. If you're really in a generous mood, you might purchase your favorite law student or lawyer this gift, and fill it with some other items in this list like the books and DVDs to add a nice gift within a gift.

9) A nice dress watch to keep time for those short breaks during trials. This kind of analog watch is ideal because it doesn't beep in court and won't make the wearer quickly lose favor with the judge. What's cool about the watch is that it's solar-powered, so the wearer doesn't ever have to worry about finding replacement batteries which fit it.

10) A relatively cheap Hewlett-Packard notebook computer for students and lawyers alike to work on their court files wherever they want instead of being chained to a desk all day. Many courts also allow the taking of notes on computers now if a lawyer asks permission, so if the recipient prefers typing on computers to writing on paper, this makes a great gift.

No comments:

Post a Comment