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The Legal Analyst: A Toolkit for Thinking about the Law
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The Legal Analyst: A Toolkit for Thinking about the Law

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  226 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
There are two kinds of knowledge law school teaches: legal rules on the one hand, and tools for thinking about legal problems on the other. Although the tools are far more interesting and useful than the rules, they tend to be neglected in favor of other aspects of the curriculum. In The Legal Analyst, Ward Farnsworth brings together in one place all of the most powerful o ...more
Hardcover, 326 pages
Published June 15th 2007 by University Of Chicago Press
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Jan 06, 2009 Bryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: law
Most lists of "What to Read the Summer Before Law School" are bullshit. One's concerns the first year are overwhelming practical -- Am I cut out for this job? What should I learn from these cases? What should I take away from the class discussion? How can I tell a good outline from a poor one? How should I prepare for tests? -- yet the books suggested to incoming 1Ls offer little or no answers to these questions.

Here's the nonsense they usually recommend:
1. Broad "theory" books
Examples include
Jun 12, 2011 Rex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Farnsworth compiles 31 chapters that each deal with a perspective or “tool” for analyzing legal thought. The chapters deal with a wide range of topics that encompass principles from law and economics, behavioral psychology, game theory, jurisprudence, standards of review, etc.

My very brief thoughts on each chapter follow:

Ex ante/Ex post—should the legal system attempt to simply “fix” a mess after it has happened or should it attempt to provide “proper” incentives to future actors in a similar si
Jul 26, 2010 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: law
Upon receiving a letter of acceptance to Chicago Law School last winter, a friend of mine at Harvard Law wrote me an email recommending three books as absolute must-reads prior to beginning my 1L year: "The Bramble Bush" by Karl Llewellyn, "Getting to Maybe" by Richard Michael Fischl and Jeremy Paul, and "The Legal Analyst" by Ward Farnsworth. All three have proven extremely stimulating, and although their relevance has not yet been borne out by the rigors of my first year of law school (which b ...more
Daniel Shi
Dec 15, 2015 Daniel Shi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After a long month and a half of reading and comprehending the book The Legal Analyst by Ward Farnsworth, I completed the book. The text itself was very dense, very full of information and without proper time taken to understanding and rereading the book I would struggle to understand any of it. The book outlined the major ideas in law and explained the many components of law. It explained court reactions and rulings and gave detailed insight into the minds of lawmakers. The major motifs it f ...more
May 30, 2008 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want to feed your inner law geek, read this book.
Aug 01, 2016 Khalid rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
حقيقتاً كتاب مفيد للمتخصصين و غير المتخصصين. في البداية الكاتب بدأ يتكلم عن أمور عامة في القضاء و تزداد الدقة كل ما تقدمت في الكتاب.
أعطيته 3 نجوم لعدة أسباب أهمها:
-أن الكاتب مع التقدم بالأجزاء كان يتعمق أكثر و أكثر بالقضاء الأمريكي و هذا شيء يصعب على القارئ الغير أمريكي فهمه.
-يوجد الكثير من الأمثلة الجيدة و أيضاً يوجد كثير من الأمثلة الغير مفهومة
-غالباً ما تكون المعلومة أو الفائدة بين أسطر المثال، و هذا شيء لا يساعد في الاستنتاج.

عموماً الكتاب جداً مفيد للمتخصصين و غير المتخصصين و أنصح به
Jeff Walden
How do laws and the legal process balance the competing interests of everyone involved? What do judges consider when deciding how a law should be construed? Ward Farnsworth here presents tools to help answer these questions, and others like them: thirty-one concepts that underlie our legal system. Paraphrasing part of the book's preface, the goal is to gather and clearly explain, with numerous examples, the most interesting ideas presented in law school.

That said, I think this book is under-sold
Adrian Hodiș
Sep 03, 2016 Adrian Hodiș rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: law
An accesible read for someone outside the common law. It may well be taken as an introduction into the US legal thinking. You'll enjoy the numerous economic perspectives on different issues of law, as well as some elements of game theory and how they can make their way into the legal playground. For someone used to long, sophisticated sentences in law books, this was a complete surprise.
Slava Gorbunov
Feb 22, 2016 Slava Gorbunov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting book. It helps understanding - as part of an ongoing educational program - how our society works from the law and decision making perspective. Very often I hear speculations about legal issues and that someone has the "right to sue" etc. This book will actually show how it might really happen when someone sues someone. I recommend it to everybody.
Xavier Shay
Nov 30, 2014 Xavier Shay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easy read, many suggestions for further reading. Frames many concepts I'm familiar with (i.e. cognitive biases) in context of law. A little traditional-economist biased for me (i.e. naive translation of preferences to monetary value), though was at least somewhat self-conscious of this.
Alyssa Pratt
Aug 23, 2016 Alyssa Pratt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must read if you're going to law school (and even if you aren't). It provides a lot of useful insight into how judges make decisions about cases and how policymakers decide laws.
Apr 20, 2016 Amr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, what a wonderful e-book!
Graham Polando
May 27, 2015 Graham Polando rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, compelling book. The first few chapters make it seem like it's a law and economics text in disguise, but it turns out to be exactly what it claims: a guide to thinking more deeply about legal problems. I was initially skeptical of the author's introductory suggestion: that the book offers an "alternative" to the law school curriculum by categorizing solutions rather than subject matter, but it's done so well and with such rich results that I think there might be something to it. Very ...more
Dec 02, 2014 Alice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I should've read this earlier. It is a wonderful book to start thinking about the law, but now that I'm a little bit more familiar with most topics and thinking about the law (and taking into account perspectives from other sciences), a lot of it is quite obvious. However, I have to say that the topics are collected and written down in a very nice way and that I really appreciate that the examples are taken from different fields of the law.
Mar 25, 2010 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Always 5 stars for Ward, but more importantly, this book is simply a great toolkit for anyone if they want to improve, change or supplement the way they think about everyday problems.
Apr 19, 2015 Drew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: law-school
Pretty awesome. I'll post a real review for this tomorrow, or at least quote some nuggets of wisdom from Ward "How Is This Guy Not Like 90 Years Old" Farnsworth.
Spencer Baumgardner
I read about half this book. It is very informative, but very dense.
Tensy MB
Aug 25, 2011 Tensy MB marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
What every law student should read before starting law school.
Jan 05, 2013 Ty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written and easy to follow. It was enlightening.
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