Startup GC's Share Their Top Business Reads for Lawyers

Originally published by Sean Burke on 09.12.20
A few days ago, an in-house general counsel friend asked me if there were any books I could recommend to him (or any attorney looking to go in-house) that could make him more commercially or business minded?

It's a great question.

As much as I love to have an opinion on everything, I didn't actually have anything to recommend. So I crowd sourced, asking my network of tech and startup GCs (as well as one law firm partner) if they had any ideas. I of course got back a few "you can't teach someone how to be business minded" sort of answers. But for those of you out there who still believe in the power of improving yourself through education, here's what our friends suggested:


GC of a B2B platform:

The Hard Thing About Hard Things - Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers [Ben Horowitz]

Good to Great - Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't [Jim Collins]

Ogilvy on Advertising [David Ogilvy]


Assistant GC of a tech giant

The Inside Counsel Revolution: Resolving the Partner-Guardian Tension [Ben W. Heineman, Jr.] ***this one was popular and made a few people's lists


GC of a major beverage company:

Lawyering: A Realistic Approach to Legal Practice [James Freund]


Privacy Partner at AmLaw 50 Firm:

How to Win Friends and Influence People [Dale Carnegie]

The Prince [Machiavelli]


Assistant GC of a news organization:

The Generalist Counsel: How Leading General Counsel are Shaping Tomorrow's Companies  [Prashat Dubey and Eva Kripalani]

Shoe Dog - A Memoir by the Creator of Nike [Phil Knight]


Legal Counsel at B2B startup:

The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires [Tim Wu]

Capital in the Twenty-First Century [Thomas Piketty]

The Four - The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google [Scott Galloway]


Legal Counsel at a network security startup:

Building an Outstanding Legal Team: Battle-Tested Strategies from a General Counsel [Bjarne P. Tellmann]


Corporate Counsel of a healthcare startup:

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business [Gino Wickman]


Associate General Counsel of a financial services startup:

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses [Eric Ries]


Senior Counsel at a hospitality group:

Grit [Angela Duckworth]


So, there you have it. 16 suggested reads to help you think more like a legal-minded business adviser than a mere lawyer. And when you've read them, reach out and we'll talk about your next move.

Topics: Sean Burke, Whistler Partners, Just for kicks, In-House