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 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  122 ratings  ·  9 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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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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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.
Spencer Baumgardner
I read about half this book. It is very informative, but very dense.
Aug 25, 2011 Tensy marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
What every law student should read before starting law school.
If you want to feed your inner law geek, read this book.
Well written and easy to follow. It was enlightening.
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