The Reading List Project : Must-Read Books For Law Students & Lawyers

Hamza Lakdawala

12 July 2020 11:56 AM GMT

  • The Reading List Project : Must-Read Books For Law Students & Lawyers

    The Idea Most law students in India find their legal education to be outdated and incomplete. Colleges and universities often teach foundational theories and concepts with a few basic procedural and substantive laws. While this helps in creating a basic understanding, it is in no way enough. To fill this void of knowledge, most law students take to reading — only to realize that...

    The Idea

    Most law students in India find their legal education to be outdated and incomplete. Colleges and universities often teach foundational theories and concepts with a few basic procedural and substantive laws. While this helps in creating a basic understanding, it is in no way enough. To fill this void of knowledge, most law students take to reading — only to realize that they do not know what they should or shouldn't read. Also, while a number of reading lists are already available online, many of them are generic, shallow and often cater to a non-Indian reader base. For example: I never found a must-read like K.G. Kannabiran's Wages of Impunity on any of these widely circulated online lists. To read a good book, you should first know that the book exists.

    The Reading List Project is an effort to collate and curate the most exhaustive, robust and valuable reading list for law students and aspiring litigators in India. The list aims to help students and aspiring litigators to cut through the numerous books available and focus on the ones that really matter. The books mentioned in the list are reading suggestions by practicing advocates, journalists and leading academics.

    How It Was Done

    I created a Google Docs page and added a few books that I felt were important reads. For example: Anuj Bhuwania's Courting the People. I then shared the editable Google Docs page with numerous members of the legal fraternity. They were requested to add their book suggestions from various areas of the law; the result of which is a diverse and extensive list of books written by both domestic and foreign authors.

    The list is not permanent and is supposed to be ever evolving. It shall be updated at regular intervals with newer book suggestions, as well as with sub-lists in different areas of study such as race, culture, finance, etc.

    This is my humble attempt to make the study of law a bit easier and bit more enjoyable — for law students across India and also, for me. I hope this helps you. If you have any suggestions for the list, please reach out to me on Twitter.

    Most importantly, I would like to thank Radhika Roy, Vikram Hegde, Anuj Bhuwania, Bhawna Gandhi, Apar Gupta, Vasundhara Sirnate, Afreen Alam and Arushi Singh for taking out the time and helping me curate this list. I would also like to thank the numerous kind-hearted law students, advocates and other reading enthusiasts on the internet who have helped me shape and share this list!

    The Reading List (List not exhaustive and not in any particular order of preference)

    On Landmark Judgements

    1. Zia Mody — 10 Judgements That Changed India
    2. Justice AK Ganguly — Landmark Judgments that Changed India
    3. Chintan Chandrachud — Cases That India Forgot
    4. Prashant Bhushan — The Case that Shook India: The Verdict That Led to the Emergency
    5. Indu Bhan — The Dramatic Decade: Landmark Cases Of Modern India
    6. Tom Denning — Landmarks in the Law
    7. Allan Hutchinson — Is Eating People Wrong? Great Legal Cases and How They Shaped the World
    8. Andhyarujina, Tehmtan R - The Kesavananda Bharati case: the untold story of struggle for supremacy by supreme court and parliament


    1. Justice O Chinnappa Reddy - The Court and the Constitution of India : Summits and Shallows
    2. Justice V R Krishna Iyer  - Constitutional Miscellany
    3. Gautam Bhatia — The Transformative Constitution: A Radical Biography in Nine Acts
    4. Arun K Thiruvengadam — The Constitution of India: A Contextual Analysis (Constitutional Systems of the World)
    5. Arun K Thiruvengadam, Vikram Raghavan & Sunil Khilnani (ed.) — Comparative Constitutionalism in South Asia
    6. Granville Austin — Working a Democratic Constitution
    7. Granville Austin — The Indian Constitution: Cornerstone of a Nation
    8. Madhav Khosla, Pratap Bhanu Mehta & Sujit Choudhry — The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution
    9. Rohit De — A People's Constitution: The Everyday Life of Law in the Indian Republic
    10. Madhav Khosla — India's Founding Moment: The Constitution of a Most Surprising Democracy
    11. Aakash Singh Rathore — Ambedkar's Preamble: A Secret History of the Constitution of India
    12. Marc Galanter, Competing Equalities: Law and the Backward Classes in India
    13. Desai, Ashok H. - Supreme but not Infallible: Essays in Honour of the Supreme Court of India.
    14. Upendra Baxi     - The Supreme Court and Politics
    15. Andhyarujina, Tehmtan R., and William Wade. - Judicial activism and constitutional democracy in India.
    16. Sixteen Stormy Days: The Story of the First Amendment to the Constitution of India by Tripurdaman Singh

    Public Interest Litigation

    1. Anuj Bhuwania — Courting the People: Public Interest Litigation in Post-Emergency India

    Free Speech

    1. Gautam Bhatia — Offend, Shock, or Disturb: Free Speech under the Indian Constitution
    2. Abhinav Chandrachud — Republic of Rhetoric: Free Speech and the Constitution of India
    3. Garton Ash, Timothy — Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World
    4. Strossen, Nadine — Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship
    5. Godwin, Mike — Cyber Rights : Defending Free Speech in the Digital Age
    6. Coetzee, J.M. — Giving Offense: Essays on Censorship
    7. Laura Weinrib — The Taming of Free Speech: America's Civil Liberties Compromise


    1. Zuboff, Shoshana — The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power
    2. Bartlett, Jamie — The People Vs Tech: How the Internet Is Killing Democracy

    Jurisprudence/Legal Philosophy/Social Philosophy

    1. Tom Bingham — The Rule of Law
    2. Aakash Singh, Garima Goswamy — Rethinking Indian Jurisprudence: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Law
    3. Atul Setalvad — Introduction to Law
    4. Amartya Sen — The Idea of Justice
    5. Michael Sandel — Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?
    6. Abhinav Chandrachud — Due Process of Law
    7. Stephen Breyer — Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge's View
    8. Stephen Breyer — The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities
    9. Preet Bharara - Doing Justice: A Prosecutor's Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law
    10. Richard Prosner - How Judges Think?
    11. Richard Prosner - Law and Literature

    Biography/Autobiography — Famous Lawyers & Judges

    1. M.C. Chagla — Roses In December
    2. Fali S. Nariman — Before Memory Fades: An Autobiography
    3. Susan Adelman — Rebel: A Biography of Ram Jethmalani
    4. Indu Bhan — Legal Eagles: Stories of the Top Seven Indian Lawyers.
    5. George H Gadbois - Judges of the Supreme Court of India.
    6. Ruth Bader Ginsburg — My Own Words
    7. Motilal Setalvad — My Life — Law and other things
    8. H. R. Khanna — Neither Roses Nor Thorns
    9. Soli J. Sorabjee, Arvind P. Datar — Nani Palkhivala: The Courtroom Genius
    10. Noah Feldman — Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices
    11. Shanti Bhushan — Courting Destiny: A Memoir
    12. Shweta Bansal — Courting Politics
    13. Louis Nizer — My Life In Court
    14. Leila Seth — On Balance, an Autobiography
    15. Justice M. Hidayatullah — My Own Boswell
    16. Justice Sonia Sotomayor - My Beloved World
    17. Justice Clarence Thomas - My Grandfather's Son
    18. Joan Biskupic - American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
    19. Sandra Day O'Connor – The Majesty Of The Law
    20. Joan Biskupic - The Chief: The Life and Turbulent Times of Chief Justice John Roberts
    21. Tom Denning, Baron Denning - Lord Denning, The Discipline of Law


    1. Abhinav Chandrachud — Republic of Religion: The Rise and Fall of Colonial Secularism in India
    2. Ronojoy Sen — Articles of Faith: Religion, Secularism, and the Indian Supreme Court
    3. Gary J. Jacobsohn — The Wheel of Law: India's Secularism in Comparative Constitutional Context

    Social Issues

    1. Palagummi Sainath — Everybody Loves a Good Drought
    2. K G Kannabiran — The Wages of Impunity: Power, Justice and Human Rights
    3. Marc Galanter, Law and Society in Modern India
    4. James C. Scott — Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed
    5. Josy Joseph — A Feast of Vultures: The Hidden Business of Democracy in India
    6. Marc Galanter - Competing Equalities: Law and the Backward Classes in India.

    Feminism/Women's Rights

    1. Kaviraj Singh — Law and Her: A Handbook on Women Laws In India
    2. Nivedita Menon — Seeing Like a Feminist
    3. Linda Hirshman- Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World
    4. Pratiksha Baxi — Public Secrets of Law: Rape Trials in India
    5. Flavia Agnes, Monmayee Basu, and Sudhir Chandra —Women and Law in India
    6. Simone De Beauvoir - The Second Sex
    7. Judith Butler — Gender Trouble
    8. Cinzia Arruzza, Nancy Fraser, and Tithi Bhattacharya — Feminism for the 99%: A Manifesto

    Studying Law

    1. Nicholas J. McBride — Letters To A Law Student


    1. Abhinav Chandrachud — Supreme Whispers: Conversations with Judges of the Supreme Court of India 1980–89
    2. Ornit Shani — How India Became Democratic: Citizenship and the Making of the Universal Franchise
    3. Tarangini Sriraman — In Pursuit of Proof: A History of Identification Documents in India
    4. Bipin Chandra — India's Struggle for Independence
    5. Bipin Chandra — India Since Independence
    6. Jawaharlal Nehru — Discovery of India
    7. Jawaharlal Nehru — Glimpses of World History
    8. H M Seervai          - Partition of India : Legend and Reality
    9. Ramachandra Guha — India After Gandhi
    10. Amartya Sen — The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity
    11. Romila Thapar — The Past Before Us
    12. Shashi Tharoor- Inglorious Empire
    13. William Dalrymple — The Anarchy
    14. Michael H. Roffer — The Law Book: From Hammurabi to the International Criminal Court, 250 Milestones in the History of Law
    15. Aruna Roy — The RTI Story: Power to the People
    16. Alexander M. Bickel — The Least Dangerous Branch: The Supreme Court at the Bar of Politics
    17. George Harold Gadbois - Supreme Court of India: The Beginnings
    18. Will Durant – The Story Of Philosophy

    How To Law/Research/Write/Draft/Argue

    1. Justice Antonin Scalia, B. A. Garner — Making Your Case: The Art Of Persuading Judges
    2. Justice Antonin Scalia, B. A. Garner — Reading Law: The Interpretation Of Legal Texts
    3. Philip Meyer — Storytelling For Lawyers
    4. Joel P. Trachtman — The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think, Argue, and Win
    5. Guberman, Ross — Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation's Top Advocates
    6. Tomorrow's Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future by Richard Susskind.

    Criminal Law

    1. Avirook Sen — Aarushi
    2. Pinky Anand — Trials of Truth: India's Landmark Criminal Cases
    3. Chitranshul Sinha — The Great Repression: The Story of Sedition in India
    4. Erle Stanley Gardner — The Court of Last Resort
    5. Clarence Darrow - Attorney for the Damned


    1. Harper Lee — To Kill a Mockingbird
    2. John Grisham — The Firm
    3. George Orwell — 1984
    4. J. D. Salinger — The Catcher in the Rye
    5. Prayaag Akbar — Leila
    6. Jeremy Blachman - Anonymous Lawyer
    7. Truman Capote - In Cold Blood
    8. Scott Turrow - Personal Injuries
    9. Franz Kafka – The Trial
    10. John Grisham – A Time To Kill
    11. Scott Turrow – Presumed Innocent
    12. Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Crime and Punishment

    Casual Reads

    1. The Secret Barrister — The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It's Broken
    2. Ranjeev C Dubey — Legal Confidential: Adventures of an Indian Lawyer
    3. Erle Stanley Gardner — Perry Mason series

    Books by Journalists/Non-Legal Professionals

    1. Sunetra Chowdhury — Black Warrant: Confessions of a Tihar Jailer
    2. Sunetra Chodhury — Behind Bars: Prison Tales of India's Most Famous
    3. Arun Shourie — Anita Gets Bail: What Are Our Courts Doing? What Should We Do About Them?
    4. Arun Shourie — Courts and Their Judgments: Premises, Prerequisites, Consequences
    5. Anand Teltumbde and Suraj Yengde - The Radical in Ambedkar: Critical Reflections
    6. Arun Shourie - Falling Over Backwards

    Other books by Judges, Lawyers & Eminent Juristic Minds

    1. Justice Markandey Katju — Whither Indian Judiciary
    2. Justice Markandey Katju — The Shape of Things to Come: An Impassioned View
    3. Fali S. Nariman — India's Legal System: Can it Be Saved?
    4. Fali S. Nariman — God Save the Hon'ble Supreme Court
    5. Fali S. Nariman — The State of the Nation: In Context of India's Constitution
    6. Nani Palkhivala — We, the Nation: The Lost Decades
    7. Nani Palkhivala — We, the People: India, the Largest Democracy
    8. Abhishek Singhvi — From the Trenches : India's top lawyer on his most important cases
    9. Nani Palkhivala - Our Constitution: Defaced & Defiled

    (Hamza Lakdawala is Mass Media & Journalism graduate from Mumbai. He worked as a content writer and media consultant with leading media conglomerates and currently works as a freelance writer and researcher. Hamza is deeply interested in law, history, entrepreneurship & education. He is pursuing his LL.B. at Kishinchand Chellaram Law College, Mumbai. You can follow him on Twitter at

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