Top 10 Business Books (that lawyers should read!)

Gyi Tsakalakis
February 24, 2009

I know...I know.  You barely have time to stop and think let alone read a bunch of books.  I feel the same way, but how do we expect to grow ourselves and our practices without a continued education?

Running a successful practice and being a successful lawyer are two distinct and important skills.  You have had formal training to become a lawyer, but not necessarily to run a small business.  I suspect that many of the issues you deal with day to day are common in all small businesses.

Below are 10 of the best business books I've read, in my humble opinion.  These are in no particular order of importance or ranking. Let me know what your favorite business books are. What's missing from the list? Any on here that you disagree with?


Good to Great:Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't by Jim Collins.  This is a very analytical, thought out approach to studying and determining what differentiates good companies from great ones.  This book really opened my eyes to different concepts and ways to view the business you are building.


The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell.  This is one of my favortie authors and this book is his best. "Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do." says Gladwell. This gave me a new perspective on networking and spreading ideas. Very applicable in the internet age of social media.


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.  I'm sure most everyone is either familiar with this one or has read it already.  If you have, pick it up again.  This is just a fantastic guide and approach to human interaction.  In today's business climate, it is always refreshing to run into individuals that adhere to the principles Covey lays out.


Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.  Terrific book that builds off of some of the concepts in The Tipping Point.  They take a scientific approach to studying "stickiness", the art of making ideas unforgettable.


Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely.  Written by an MIT professor of behavioral economics, this is a fascinating look at the irrational decision making we are all victims of.


Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis.  Whether you are a baseball fan or not, you owe it to yourself to check this book out.  It explores how a small market team, the Oakland A's, have consistently put together winning teams with cast off players no one else wanted.  By looking at the world of baseball through a different lens, the organization was able to remain competitive in the face of many inherent disadvantages.


The E-Myth: Why Most Small Business Don't Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber.  This book is all about turning your business, or practice, into a series of systems.  This is so critical not only to the success of the business, but to allow us as business owners to maintain sanity, balance, and responsiblity within our organizations.  This is a great read for anyone running a small to medium size practice.


Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky.  With all of the buzz surrounding social media in the legal community, it's important to step back and understand just how fundamentally the internet is changing everything.  This book examines the power of these new tools and how different our world is becoming.  Best to get on the train rather than be left behind.


Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers by Seth Godin.  Seth is "The Don" of modern marketing concepts.  This book helped kick that off.  Since soliciting customers is unethical in the legal community, understanding the concepts of permission marketing is that much more critical.  I would suggest checking out Seth's Blog as well.


The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki.  Just a fun book with a ton of great information relating to starting any type of business.  Most of the suggestions, ideas, and concepts here apply to a new or growing law practice as much as any other business.

Gyi Tsakalakis
Co-Founder of AttorneySync
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14 years ago

I recommend The Trusted Advisor.

The theme of The Trusted Advisor (Free Press, 2000) is that the key to professional success is not just technical mastery of one’s discipline, but also the ability to work with clients in a way that earns their trust and gains their confidence. This book is a seminal treatise on the subject of trust.

Most, if not all, young lawyers starting out as new associates in established firms want to get ahead as fast as they can. Freshly minted from a competitive law school environment, they typically think being the best lawyer is all about mastering the law. Authors David Maister, Charles H. Green and Robert M. Galford write this:

“Then comes that crucial career transition, from technician to full professional, from content expert to advisor. As technicians, our task is to provide information, analyses, research, content and even recommendations. All of these are basically tasks performed out of the client’s presence. In contrast, our task as advisors is an ‘in-person,’ ‘in-contact’ challenge to help the client see things anew or to make a decision. This requires a complete change of skills and mind-sets.”

Lawyers who make this career transition, achieving the status of trusted advisor, know the meaning of true professionalism and, unlike so many of their colleagues, really enjoy the practice of law. For young lawyers starting out, there’s no book I’d recommend more highly than this one.

Jeff Berman
Jeff Berman
14 years ago

Sounds like a great read, I'll check that one out. Thanks for posting the suggestion.

Jill Pugh
14 years ago

Great list - several I haven't read, definitely agree with your selections for the ones I have read. I would add, however, Keith Ferrazzi's book, Never Eat Alone - completely changed my perspective on networking and marketing in general!

Jerry Work
14 years ago

I hope I am not being inappropriate, but I feel I would be doing a disservice if I did not recommend The Law Firm Internet Marketing Book:


I co-wrote the book, along with my partner at Work Media. While I won't pretend the book is of the same caliber as the world famous list above, if you want to learn how to use the Internet to generate leads for your law firm online, this book tells exactly how.

Ryan McKinney
14 years ago

Where is GTD. Getting Things Done by David Allen. If you haven't read it... you should.

Tim Berry
14 years ago

I looked at this list hoping to see my The Plan As You Go Business Plan book on it -- it's been on several, but as I go down the list of what you have, I have to admit, I've read 7 of 10 and every one of them has better reader to be on the list than mine; so I assume the other 3 do as well.

So congrats, this is a great list. Well done.

14 years ago

Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media is a great business book that teaches you how to handle the media. It also teaches insight into getting publicity for your cases. Just finished reading it.

Event Planning Bay Area

Getting Things Done by David Allen. If you haven’t read it… you should.

12 years ago


Working On vs In Your Law Firm

[...] starting your own law firm or you already have your own law firm, it’s a book I recommend (here are some [...]

9 years ago

Great tips, thank you!

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