Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Law 101: Everything You Need to Know about the American Legal System” as Want to Read:
Law 101: Everything You Need to Know about the American Legal System
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Law 101: Everything You Need to Know about the American Legal System

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  763 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
The best-selling first edition of Law 101 provided readers with a vividly written and indispensable portrait of our nation's legal system. Now, in this revised edition, Jay M. Feinman offers an updated survey of American law, spiced with new anecdotes and cases, and incorporating fresh material on topics ranging from the President's war powers, to intellectual property, st ...more
Hardcover, 363 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published March 30th 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Law 101, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Nyjmah Abdullah If you are the defendant and you know that the judge is not fair , from pass
experience. How do you communicate to the judge he/she did not use
If you are the defendant and you know that the judge is not fair , from pass
experience. How do you communicate to the judge he/she did not use
good judgement or that he/she did not wiegh in all the evidence?(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Nov 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
As an introductory text to the American justice system, Feinman’s 2000 book has no equal – at least this far into my preliminary research as I gear myself up for law school in less than two years’ time. Not only is he judicious in his explanations, but he also doesn’t shy away from the more complicated theoretical matters upon which our fundamental rights are based. For example, when he discusses the nuances of how our First Amendment rights have been interpreted over the course of two centuries ...more
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Law 101, by Jay Feinman, is a practical and indispensable guide for general readers. The book enables citizens who are not lawyers to understand the basics of U.S. federal and state Constitutional law, our criminal and civil justice system, and other aspects of our judicial system that impact our lives, directly and indirectly. By providing the historical context for the U.S. legislative, executive, and judicial system, the author helps readers understand the increasingly complex and controversi ...more
Aug 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe I should go to law school.

This book read like a page turner, which either means the author did a good job, or that it's a subject I love. In this case, definitely both. Feinman structures this book to be a good one volume intro to law, covering the major topics that a 1st year law student would tackle. His explanations and good historical examples make law less some abstract, technical, unfeeling entity, and reveal its imperfect humanness, beauty and warts and in between.
Jacob Kuckkahn
Personal Response: I really wanted to read an exciting book about law ,and it's enforcement; However, I found this book relatively boring. It consistently used and reused subjects that the book has already listed to create more content in a book that should really be a textbook for law schools. However, as much as it is boring, it does have a bit of humor and sarcasm that is easily identifiable; As far as my understanding goes that makes Law 101 a lot more enjoyable than reading a sectioned book ...more
Apr 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
I finished reading this book last month and it was a very compelling read, if a bit dry. Understanding the U.S. legal system is increasingly important as we look at what new policies our state and federal governments are enacting, and to avoid responding out of rhetoric instead of a factual knowledge about the law.

While this book will certainly not make anyone a lawyer, it does provide a fairly solid foundation of the various components of law and it's application. As such, it makes for an educa
Apr 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: made-me-think
This book shouldn't have taken me a month to read. It was engaging, interesting and insightful. However, I was so intent on absorbing every piece of information and memorising every legal term (I failed utterly) that I would put the book down whenever my concentration slipped a bit (which was almost all the time). On the whole, this book's catch is that it makes the subject of law really, really the opposite of boring. And that's a really big deal.
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-in-audio
Very interesting introduction to topics one would encounter in the first yeah of law school.
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish this was recommended as summer reading before I started law school. The book lays out what certain areas of the law are (civ pro) and why they are necessary (which would help me understand why first years have to study them. The book goes a long way to demystifying THE LAW but don't think you can read and represent yourself.
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: law
Exceptional read
Vikas Erraballi
Dec 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Delivers what it promises
Shea Griffin
May 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I hoped it would be better.
John Petrovich
A great introductory text to get one to start thinking about law.

I read a large portion of this book for my introductory law class
Paul Bulger
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Only for those interested in getting a more solid understanding about how law affects their lives, and good foundation if you're looking at going to law school. If you're already in law school, however, there probably won't be much here for you.
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Not bad. I'm more interested in business law, so the Great Courses talks on contracts and business law were better, but I thought this would've been a better introduction before diving into the specialties
Timothy Johnson
Starts off by saying Law shouldn't be complicated to the point that it's misunderstood by average citizens, and then does nothing to try and clear up that complication. If you can understand it, it's a good read.
Stuart Woolf
Feb 05, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

I've only read about two-thirds of this book, specifically the chapters on constitutional law, contract law, torts, and property law. I may go back to read the chapters on civic and criminal procedure, but they do not interest me to the same degree.

What can I say? If you know little to nothing about law, this book has a plenty to teach you, and I would recommend it as a general reference text. It doesn't go too deeply into details, but given the subject matter, this is probably a good
May 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book because it provides a good overview of the law. The author does a good job in explaining the different areas of the law. It is important to know that there are different opinions on some of the subjects in the book such as constitutional interpretation and tort law. The author outlines the different opinions but clearly he has his own biases so it is important to think after each chapter about these issues and formulate opinion about them. One example is how much freedom should ...more
Aug 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Good as a review or a preview before going to law school. Will give you insight regarding laws and procedures. If you don't know anything about the world of law, this book may be confusing. Good if you sit down and read it, and try to understand what the author is saying (who is clearly very knowledgeable of the nuances of law; he is a law professor). This book will only teach you the theories behind (basic) laws, criminal, civil, contract, business. Doesn't go over the real fundamentals of law, ...more
Aug 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, law
This book was written as an introduction to the American legal system with ample references to the historical origins of many features we see today. I learned a lot about various aspects of the law from consitutional law to property & contract law to criminal law. This would probably be a good read for anyone considering entering the legal profession or for anyone who wants to gain a broader understanding of how the legal system works.
Chris Burd
Jan 23, 2016 rated it liked it
I honestly had few expectations of this book, purchasing the audio book when it was part of a sale at

It was an enjoyable listen - and I came away with a stronger foundation of knowledge of key concepts and key terms. I'm a bit of a geek, so I'm not sure that it is a particularly "fun and engaging" book for a typical person, but if you are interested in a general basis in law, it's worth the time.
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great introductory book on the basics of the American legal system, including constitutional law, torts, contracts, property, civil procedure, criminal law, and criminal procedure. The legal system in the United States is incredibly complex, being a combination of precedents, common law, statutes, and constitutions at both federal and state levels, yet this book manages to do a coherent summary at a reasonable length.
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent overview of American law, with a particular emphasis on Constitutional Law/citizenship. I went to law school and am an attorney, so I was familiar with the topics; however, there were many subjects I haven't looked at since then, so this was a good review. I think it would be a good starter for 1Ls; this goes over everything in the first year curriculum, with the exception of writing and research.
Jan 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Another book I picked up right before 1L. I read the relevant portions as I was taking the classes and it's actually a well put together little book. Clearly written, the chapters are good birds-eye views of their respective areas of the law and something that will make you look at your world a little differently.
Apr 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Law Students/ Everyone
The basic foundation of our legal system and the basic areas that you learn in your first year of law school.

It helps you categorize different legal problems that you face on a daily basis.

When people ask me what is it your learn in law school, I direct them to read this book to understand the basic principles.

Alex Timberman
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: legal
Here is an excellent review over the American legal system. I listened to it (instead of reading it) in preparing me to teach civil procedure to Korean law students. This book was a refreshing review over many legal topics familiar to American law students. Professor Feinman is a master of the law and knows how to explain the law in a simple and clear way.
Jose Guzman
Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Delivers what it promises. As a foreign lawyer, my knowledge of the common law system in general and American law in particular was very poor. This book gives an accurate introduction and insight on the law and its intricacies, providing good basis for understanding how lawyers, judges and lawmakers reason and make decisions.
Jul 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book. A nice overview of all(?) aspects of law, with some hypotheticals and case law to illustrate how it works (including some interesting contradictions and fuzzy situations). I might even read this a second time!
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I know next to nothing about law, and this is really helping me; for those who never went to law school we can connect and commiserate with how the minds of the lawyers and students of law have been working over the years.
Apr 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: law
Really great intro to the basics of American law for us non-law folks. Probably a good read for those thinking about a legal career of some kind, but also great for a general understanding of issues and cases that are in the headlines every day.
M. Patrick
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This listen is a great primmer on the law. The author does an excellent job of explaining complex concepts in a simple understandable way. He also is very effective at maintaining the reader's/listener's interest throughout the presentation of a lot of new ideas.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams
  • Einstein's Unfinished Symphony: Listening to the Sounds of Space-Time
  • Plain English for Lawyers
  • Essentials of Accounting
  • Finance for Non-Financial Managers
  • A History of American Law
  • Law School Confidential: A Complete Guide to the Law School Experience: By Students, for Students
  • Citizen Marketers: When People Are the Message
  • Profitable Growth Is Everyone's Business: 10 Tools You Can Use Monday Morning
  • The Bootstrapper's Bible: How to Start and Build a Business with a Great Idea and (Almost) No Money
  • The Law of Torts: Examples & Explanations
  • Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species
  • A People's History of the Supreme Court: The Men and Women Whose Cases and Decisions Have Shaped Our Constitution
  • Principles of Statistics
  • Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, and Alaska
  • Gideon's Trumpet: How One Man, a Poor Prisoner, Took His Case to the Supreme Court-And Changed the Law of the United States
  • An Introduction to Legal Reasoning
  • The Lazy Person's Guide to Investing: A Book for Procrastinators, the Financially Challenged, and Everyone Who Worries about Dealing with Their Money