Resources for Students

Maintained by James Grimmelmann
Current through March 2024

This page collects some of the most common resources I recommend for students who want to learn more about intellectual property, technology, and Internet law.

Law and Technology News

Media outlets with good dedicated coverage of technology law include:



There are a lot of legal blogs. These are a few of my favorites:

Studying Law

I maintain a list of free and inexpensive casebooks that has excellent options for most subjects in the first-year law-school curriculum and most technology and IP subjects.

If you are taking a law-school class or reading primary legal materials for the first time, I highly recommend Orin Kerr’s How to Read a Legal Opinion, 11 Green Bag 2d 51 (2007). For EU law, Jasper Krommendijk and Frederik Zuiderveen Borgesius have written primers for legislation and CJEU judgments.

If you need a more in-depth introduction to how the United States legal system works, E. Allan Farnsworth, An Introduction to the Legal System of the United States (4th ed. 2010) is a good primer. It is useful if you have studied law in another country, and if you have never studied law before. If you want a historical presentation, Lawrence M. Friedman, A History of American Law (4th ed. 2019) is a well-respected standard.

Under Bryan Garner’s editing, Black’s Law Dictionary (now in the 11th edition, but used copies of previous editions are often much cheaper) has become the gold standard of legal dictionaries. But I’ll be honest: for 90% of your queries, a Google search is good enough.

As for what makes a good answer on a law-school-style exam, I highly recommend John Langbein’s essay Writing Law Examinations and Orin Kerr’s blog post Bad Answers, Good Answers, and Terrific Answers.

Writing Aids

Not all of Bryan Garner’s books are as good as Bryan Garner thinks they are. But his Modern English Usage (4th ed. 2016) is “extremely good” and for anyone writing about law, his Dictionary of Legal Usage (3d ed. 2011) is indispensable. This is the place to look to know whether to write “pleaded” or “pled.” Get in the habit of checking Garner whenever you’re not certain whether or how to use a legal term.

Although Anil Dash’s essay Make Better Documents is primarily addressed to business documents—reports, presentations, project proposals, and the like—most of the advice holds good for any form of writing, especially “Know your audience and your goals.”

As for typography – the craft of arranging words on a page so they look nice and are easy to read – Matthew Butterick’s Typography for Lawyers (2d ed. 2015) is the best short reference in existence. It just happens to be written by a lawyer for other lawyers. It covers everything from how to type accented characters to how to format block quotations nicely.

Research Networks

If you are doing scholarly research in technology law, you should be plugged into the networks for scholars working in the area. Some notable conference and workshop series include the following.

In law and computer science:

In intellectual property:

In Internet law:

In privacy law:

In addition, there are several mailing lists that are homes to interesting discussions and announcements:

I am happy to discuss which of these events and lists are most relevant to your interests.

Productivity Software

I use a Mac, so my advice here is Mac-centric.

Legal Research: Ben Eidelson’s Case Viewer is a lightning-fast and delightfully simple macOS for locating freely available cases and statutes.

Word Processing: Word does everything adequately and nothing well. It’s an acceptable default choice, and sometimes the only available choice. The only thing that Pages is missing for serious legal writing is automatic cross-references. If you can get by without them, it is far less frustrating to work with. If you use LaTeX, Charles Duan’s Hereinafter package for legal citation is deep magic. I am happy to provide a starter template for using it.

Spreadsheets: Excel is the category leader and is a powerful workhorse for sophisticated models. For quickly making nice-looking spreadsheets, Numbers is a decent alternative.

Presentations: Everyone rags on PowerPoint, often with good reason. It works well enough much of the time, but it can and will destroy your formatting in frustrating and hard-to-diagnose ways. If you can, use Keynote instead, which is simply a superlative piece of software.

Design: If you need sophisticated photo editing, graphic design, or desktop publishing, Adobe Creative Cloud is the best-known suite of tools. It is also shockingly expensive. Affinity’s suite of tools (Publisher, Designer, and Photo) is a great alternative, and far more affordable. All three apps are powerful, fully featured enough for most purposes, and very thoughtfully designed.

Diagrams: If you need to draw some shapes with lines connecting them, OmniGraffle is a fine choice. I’ve used it happily for over a decade.

Calculations: If you need to do the kind of calculations you need to double-check, use a program that lets you show your work. Calca and Soulver are both genius.