25 Essential Reference Books Every Paralegal Should Own

Regardless of which paralegal degree program you choose, you can expect plenty of reading ahead of you. While some books are required reading for many courses, other books are just good reading (including one fiction book). The reference and text books were gathered from current paralegal course syllabi from across the nation. Other books were recommended reading by other paralegals through their blogs.

Legal Textbooks and References

  1. Federal Civil Rules Booklet: This publication contains the federal court rules and U.S. Code sections essential to federal civil litigation practice.
  2. A Uniform System of Citation (aka “The Bluebook”): If you are a law student, a paralegal, or are writing articles for legal publications, you need the latest edition of this book. It sets the standard for citation styles in practitioners’ documents and legal publications.
  3. Basic Administrative Law for Paralegals: This clear and up-to-date introduction (fourth edition) to Administrative Law, written specifically for the paralegal, is a straightforward text that explains how administrative agencies are created, how they are structured, and how they function.
  4. Black’s Law Dictionary: Edited by the world’s foremost legal lexicographer, Bryan A. Garner, Black’s Law Dictionary is known for its clear and precise legal definitions, substantive accuracy, and stylistic clarity.
  5. Evidence for Paralegals: Now in its fourth edition, this book continues to help students understand how evidentiary principals are applied in practical situations. Written from a real-life perspective, students can begin to see beyond the walls of the classroom.
  6. Fundamentals of Litigation for Paralegals: This is a highly successful text that provides paralegals with a comprehensive overview of the entire litigation process. The sixth edition has been completely updated to reflect the December 2007 changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and also includes expanded treatment of mediation and the use of computers as tools in the litigation process.
  7. Introduction to ParalegalismIntroduction to Paralegalism: As the market leader, this text boasts a wealth of information on updated legislation and the impacting use of paralegals.
  8. Legal Research: How to Find and Understand the Law: With a little expert guidance from a couple of attorneys (Stephen Elias and Susan Levinkind), you can learn what’s in a law library and how to use it, how to seek and understand statutes, regulations, and cases, how to explore online resources, practice your legal skills in the library, and even write a reputable legal memorandum.
  9. Legal Secretary’s Complete Handbook: Now in its fourth edition, this popular desktop tool is packed with law-office practices and procedures for beginning and veteran legal secretaries and paralegals. Organized for quick access to work-day solutions, the guide is divided into five parts – general duties in the law office; preparing legal instruments and documents; preparing court papers; assisting in specialized practice; legal facts and secretarial aids.
  10. Paralegal Certificate Course Workbook: The notes and exercises are designed to reinforce course lesson materials, and to help the student learn to apply the concepts and practical skills necessary for a successful paralegal career.
  11. Paralegal Practice & Procedure: A Practical Guide for the Legal Assistant: This authoritative guide is the definitive reference for every paralegal. Enjoy a newly-revised third edition which covers both general and specific duties in various types of law practices, from setting up a corporate entity and assisting in real estate transactions to using legal research tools and preparing for trials.
  12. The Paralegal’s Handbook: A Complete Reference for All Your Daily Tasks: This book includes family law, probate, corporate law, intellectual property, real estate and personal injury law. The authors cover everything from handling everyday tasks to reviewing facsimiles of legal documents. The second edition includes a new section on eDiscovery.
  13. Tort Law for Legal Assistants: The third edition of this book strikes an excellent balance between academic coverage of tort law principles and practical coverage of skills requisite for the personal injury legal assistant.
  14. Using Computers in the Law OfficeUsing Computers in the Law Office: Using Computers in the Law Office, fifth edition provides up-to-date information regarding the use of technology by paralegals in all types of legal organizations. It includes basic computer concepts, including hardware and major software programs such as Word and Excel, and also addresses more complex skills and software application programs available.
  15. West’s Business Law: A market leader used by more colleges and universities than any other business law text, West’s Business Law continues to set the standard for making classic black letter law accessible, interesting, and relevant to business students.

For Good Legal Reading

  1. Law School Confidential: A Complete Guide To The Law School Experience: By Students, For Students: Although for law students, this book can help demystify any law school experience by providing a comprehensive blow-by-blow chronological account of what to expect.
  2. Lessons from the Top Paralegal Experts: The 15 Most Successful Paralegals and What You can Learn from Them: Why re-invent the wheel when someone already has it rolling? This book covers success stories and insights on how successful paralegals perform their work. The paralegal experts in this book practice in various specialties, but they all focus on creativity, leadership, expertise in their specialty, technical skills, knowledge, mentoring and organization.
  3. Movie Therapy for Law StudentsMovie Therapy for Law Students (And Pre-Law, Paralegal, and Related Majors): This is a fun legal study aid or law school preparatory text, which surveys about 35 legal movies, focusing on the substantive areas of law and legal issues that the movies raise.
  4. Paralegal Career For Dummies: This basic book is accurate and covers everything a paralegal should know in an easy-to-understand format. The accompanying CD contains samples of documents and references to many important resources.
  5. Paralegal Career Guide: This book packs a lot of information about career pathways for paralegals. It covers trends, career options, how to create value, salary negotiations, tips on getting along with co-workers, and other career resources.
  6. Paralegal Careers: This easy-to-use text introduces paralegal students to the paralegal profession. Author Angela Schneeman has worked in the legal field as a paralegal since 1983.
  7. Show No Fear: A fictional novel and Nina Reilly thriller, this book has Nina working as a paralegal and attending law school at night. She has her hands full fighting for custody of her young son Bob and overseeing a medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of her mother.
  8. The Empowered Paralegal: Effective, Efficient and Professional: After over thirty years as a litigator employing, training and teaching paralegals, Dr. Mongue gathered and developed clear, concise and easy-to-use techniques to teach paralegals how to become a critical component of an effective legal team.
  9. The Empowered Paralegal: Working with the Elder Client: This book is difficult to put down, as it eloquently enhances understanding of elder law clients, the laws applicable to them, and the issues they face.
  10. The Independent Paralegal’s Handbook: If you want to learn how to provide legal services without becoming a lawyer, this book may help you pave that path. According to the author Ralph Warner, who is considered the nation’s expert on the independent paralegal industry, the next generation will see areas such as uncontested divorce, name change, adoption, bankruptcy, small business incorporation, child support collection and landlord-tenant form preparation taken over almost solely by independent paralegals.

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