Learning the Law: Student Guides

Lincoln's Inn
November 15, 2018

A selection of guidebooks for students engaged in the study of the law.


Thomas Lane. The student’s guide through Lincoln’s Inn. 3rd edition. London: Printed for T. Lane, by Ellerton and Henderson, 1814.

This handy guide to Lincoln’s Inn – one of the four Inns of Court – provides a host of information about the institution to new students. It notes everything from library hours to where to find the fire extinguishers, and is accompanied by this engraved map of the building.

John Raithby. The study and practice of the law considered, in their various relations to society. London: T. Cadell, jun. and W. Davies, 1798.

This work, presented in a series of letters addressed to law students, touches on the various aspects of legal education. Its author, John Raithby, a member of Lincoln’s Inn, knew his audience well – his first letter entreats law students to stop complaining about their position, and to remember just how fortunate they really are.

David Hoffman. A course of legal study: addressed to students and the profession generally. 2nd edition. Baltimore: J. Neal, 1836.

Hoffman’s Course of legal study provides a syllabus for those interested in self-studying various topics in the law. Here is an outline for a course of real property. As evidence of Littleton’s enduring influence, Hoffman still recommends beginning one’s study of property law with Littleton, more than 350 years after its first publication.



–Ryan R. Martins, Rare Book Fellow

“Learning the Law: The Book in Early Legal Education” is on display October 1 to December 14, 2018, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, located on Level L2 of the Yale Law School (127 Wall Street, New Haven CT). The exhibition is open to the general public 10am-6pm daily, and open to Yale affiliates until 10pm.

A full catalogue of the exhibit can be found here.

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