Solicitor and regular reviewer David Pickup lists his favourite reads of 2017: 

European Union Law: A Very Short Introduction

Anthony Arnull

£7.99, OUP

Whatever you feel about the EU and Brexit, this straightforward and clear introduction to the subject is written in a very balanced way. There is a section on ‘competence creep’, which sounds chilling.


The Knife Went In: Real-life murderers and our culture

Theodore Dalrymple

£16.99, Gibson Square

This book tells us what medical experts think of the legal profession and it is not pretty. There are plenty of anecdotes about experts or counsel making fools of themselves in court - so plenty for solicitors to enjoy. These are reflections and reminiscences from a now-retired prison doctor and hospital psychiatrist. The latter has sometimes phoned criminal defence solicitors to ask if they knew their client was mad and demolished the defences of those who feign insanity. 


Investigating Organised Crime and War Crimes: A personal account of a senior detective in Kosovo, Iraq and beyond 

Anthony Nott MBE

£25, Pen & Sword

This is the real-life account of a senior detective from Dorset Police who was seconded to serve as a police officer in Kosovo, Iraq and Palestine. It covers investigation of serious crimes including people trafficking, war crimes and dealing with atrocities. Add in to that mix corrupt, under-trained and under-funded local police and varying degrees of support from domestic governments. I suspect a lot more could be said on the subject.


Law and War: Magistrates in the Great War

Jonathan Swan

£25, Pen & Sword Books

Imagine a time when: prisons had to be closed because of falling numbers; there had been a successful campaign to promote diversity on the bench; there was a shortage of police; state and judiciary were at loggerheads over national security, asylum and nationality issues; and fears were rising about anti-social behaviour and the impact of violence on the young.

‘Put that light out’ is a phrase that originated in the first world war. The original regulations prevented houses being lit at the front but there were no restrictions on the back of the house. Presumably, the government thought German planes would only go to the front door.

In a world before scientific testing, magistrates had to have definitions of drunkenness. The lawyers’ favourite was that a person is not drunk if he is able to lie on the floor without holding on (like Dean Martin). The clerk to Great Yarmouth Magistrates’ Court advised: Not drunk is he, who from the floor/Can rise again and drink still more/But drunk is he who prostate lies/Without the power to drink or rise.


Walden of Bermondsey 

Peter Murphy

£8.99, No Exit Press

The hero of this story is a Crown court judge who is given the post of resident judge. That role carries no extra pay and plenty of grief. The book perfectly describes the challenges of dealing with counsel and civil servants, and the day-to-day grind of inefficiencies, poor facilities and miserable food in the canteen.


Legal Profession: Is it for you? A no-nonsense guide to a career in the law

V. Charles Ward

£11.99, Bruce & Holly  

How many solicitors would want their children to follow them into the law? Some, perhaps. Although a fascinating and vital profession, it is not the quick route to fame and fortune that many people still think. The legal profession has its ups and downs (all right, more downs than ups), but is still a vital part of society. No matter how much the law and profession changes, the public still needs us. 

Sadly, I have not reviewed a book on how to make a fortune from being a legal aid lawyer, but I live in hope. Happy Christmas.