Law 101: Everything You Need to Know About American Law, Fifth Edition (5th edition)

ISBN : 9780190866327

Jay M. Feinman
376 ページ
156 x 235 mm
  • An authoritative and up-to-date overview of the American legal system. Perfect for anyone considering law school or a career related to law
  • Accessibly written, and uses many intriguing examples of cases to illustrate key terms and ideas

New to this Edition:

  • Includes new material on Internet law, criminal trials, and recent Supreme Court cases

In this fifth edition of his bestselling classic, Jay Feinman provides an authoritative and up-to-date overview of the American legal system. In the years since the publication of the fourth edition, there have been many important developments on the legal front. The Supreme Court has issued important decisions on presidential powers, freedom of religion, and personal liberty. Police shootings and the rise of Black Lives Matter has impacted the court system too. The rise of arbitration at the expense of jury trials has affected the rights of consumers, and internet law remains in a state of constant change.
This fully updated fifth edition of Law 101 accounts for all these developments and more, as Feinman once again provides a clear introduction to American law. The book covers all the main subjects taught in the first year of law school, and discusses every facet of the American legal tradition, including constitutional law, the litigation process, and criminal, property, and contracts law.
To illustrate how the legal system works, Feinman draws from noteworthy, infamous, and even outrageous examples and cases. We learn about the case involving scalding coffee that cost McDonald's half a million dollars, the murder trial in Victorian London that gave us the legal definition of insanity, and the epochal decision of Marbury vs. Madison that gave the Supreme Court the power to declare state and federal law unconstitutional. A key to learning about the law is understanding legal vocabulary, and Feinman helps by clarifying terms like "due process" and "equal protection," as well as by drawing distinctions between terms like "murder" and "manslaughter."
Above all, Feinman reveals to readers of all kinds that despite its complexities and quirks, the law can be understood by everyone. Perfect for students contemplating law school, journalists covering legislature, or even casual fans of "court-television" shows, Law 101 is a clear and accessible introduction to the American legal system.


1 There Are No Secret Books: You Can Understand the Law
2 The Supreme Law of the Land: Constitutional Law
3 First Freedoms: Constitutional Rights
4 Your Day in Court: The Litigation Process
5 Hot Coffee and Crashing Cars: Tort Law
6 A Deal's a Deal: Contract Law
7 You Are What You Own: Property Law
8 Crime Doesn't Pay: Criminal Law
9 Protecting the Innocent, Freeing the Guilty: Criminal Procedure
Index of Legal Cases
Index of Subjects


Jay M. Feinman is Distinguished Professor of Law at Rutgers University School of Law. He is the author of six books, including Delay, Deny, Defend: Why Insurance Companies Don't Pay Claims and What You Can Do About It.

Praise for the previous editions:
"An engaging introduction to just about every aspect of law." --The American Lawyer

"All the benefits of that first year of law school without the tedium, the terror, and the sleep deprivation...These legal lessons are presented in a style nearly always engaging and very often humorous." --Jurist

"An entertaining and informative introduction to the law...For journalists, those interested in the law, and fans of television law dramas, this book should be required reading." --Library Journal

"A layperson's introduction to the legal subjects that assault every first-year law student. From constitutional law to contracts to Dickensian procedures that guide civil suites, the book gives an approachable overview of the cases and concepts that combine to form our legal system." --Newark Star-Ledger

"Though a book is aimed at laypersons, it offers a good refresher course to update legal practitioners and paraprofessionals in areas where they do not specialize. A good read overall for those interested in the law." --Booklist

"Law 101 attempts to teach you how to think like a lawyer--without requiring that you dedicate three years and tens of thousands of dollars to the task. The result? A practical book that is also a pleasure to read." --The Trenton Times

"This basic text offers nonlawyers a concise, accessible overview of topics typically introduced in the first year of law school. Feinman, a law professor at Rutgers, cites seminal cases to highlight key concepts in the fields of constitutional law, civil procedure, torts, contracts, property, criminal law and criminal procedure. He does not minimize the actual complexity of these subjects, conceding variously that contract law has "tormented the most students," property law "most irritates students," conflicts of law "tortures students" and civil procedure is "the most alien." Nevertheless, he distinguishes his book from the various how-to-be-your-own-lawyer manuals on the market: 'This one is fun to read.' ...But many readers, particularly those contemplating law school, will find this a painless introduction to American legal theory and practice." --Publishers Weekly (Praise for the Second Edition)
"Many readers, particularly those contemplating law school, will find this a painless introduction to American legal theory and practice." --Publishers Weekly

"Feinman's style makes for easy reading, and Law101 is chock full of analyses, anecdotes, examples, questions, and legal reasoning set out in lay terms. Overall, the book provides an excellent explanation of what American law is, and it frequently suggests ways in which it might be improved." --The Federal Lawyer

"Academic law libraries and law libraries serving the public, academic libraries serving undergraduate students, and public libraries will find this book a good addition to their collections. This book is also a good read for students thinking of attending law school and for those persons who have been away from the practice of law but are interested in getting reacquainted with its basics." --Alicia G. Jones, Reference Librarian, Lesar Law Library, Southern Illinois University School of Law, Law Library Journal