Looking for a Good Read?

August 30, 2021

De Novo’s book review section has got you covered. With a selection of business books and narrative nonfiction, we search for and review books that we know our lawyer friends will enjoy reading. Take one of these titles to the beach as you enjoy the last few days of summer:

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore: A young Paul Cravath — not yet the architect of the “Cravath system” that would organize the firm that became Cravath Swaine & Moore, but simply a junior partner trying to make a name for himself — represents George Westinghouse, the clear underdog in an intellectual property dispute with Thomas Edison over the lightbulb. “The Last Days of Night” is a smart, fun page-turner of a book.

Chicago Rules: Federal Cases That Defined the City and the Nation by Richard Cahan, Mark Jacob and Michael Williams: Headquartered in Chicago, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has played a pivotal role in U.S. history. This is where Abraham Lincoln, as a young lawyer, changed the direction of westward expansion when he argued that trains ― not steamships ― were America’s future. This is where Al Capone met his fall, at a trial that finished him as Public Enemy Number One. This is where Abbie Hoffman, the nation’s first Yippie, butted heads with Judge Julius J. Hoffman and the Establishment at the trial known as the Conspiracy Eight. And this is where four governors, including Rod Blagojevich, were found guilty in recent years and sent to prison. This book uses bold photographs to examine these great trials and the people behind them to offer a unique look at Chicago and U.S. history.

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant: Humans are creatures of habit, and our habits of thought are no exception. At work, these rote behaviors and “best practices” can facilitate efficient training and delivery of services, but when we hold too tightly to the comfort of what we think we know, we eliminate the possibility of change and growth. Being good at thinking — as so many bright lawyers are — can make us worse at rethinking because our certainty makes us ever blinder to our own limitations. The ability to recognize what we don’t know, to investigate and be willing to change our minds, may be the most crucial skill for thriving in our rapidly changing world. Adam Grant’s latest book takes a deep dive into the psychology of what it takes to unlearn and think again.

The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind by Jonah Berger: No one in the world has had more training in the art of persuasion than a lawyer, and yet, in the business context, lawyers (along with everyone else) sometimes struggle to change people’s minds. Whether it’s in-house stakeholders like senior equity partners or marketing directors, or clients, prospects or leaders of industry organizations, you may feel like you are swimming upstream when you try to get someone to do something differently. Jonah Berger takes a deep dive into why this is — why is it so hard to make change? — in his book “Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind.”