6th year student, interested in studying law next September.
Q. re: college law books.
I'm just wondering if anyone ever found somewhere remotely cheap to buy them from? or get online.
Also, approximately how many books per year would you advise to buy and are the law books freely available from the library for rent ?
I've heard varying opinions regarding whether you actually have to read every book advised by lecturers within freshmen year. Opinions?
You really don't need to buy any Law books while studying in Trinity, in my opinion. The library is really well stacked, and there is a whole floor dedicated to Law. Plus, the lecturers have written most of the prescribed textbooks you would be reading if you choose to come to Trinity.
I'm in exam year and I haven't bought a Law book ever, you can always request them from library stacks and you usually get them pretty snappy. That been said, I know plenty of people who would say you need to buy your books and that they feel more comfortable when they own their textbooks, but with a library like the one in Trinity or UCD, you're never really short except around exam time. It really depends on your own personal preferences.
Irish law textbooks are often incredibly expensive, and you usually won't get away with purchasing one for less than €100. By contrast, I suppose if you wanted to get a feel for law more generally you could pick up a much cheaper English textbook which often go for in and around €50.
Speaking about TCD more specifically, I would say that while the library is well-stacked it will tend to get pilfered come time for essays/exams and if you aren't amongst the people to nab them first you'll have to wait and put books on hold etc etc, which can be somewhat frustrating. If you can afford to buy them then I think it's always preferable to do so, but if you can't then I'd agree with ravetastic when they say that the library is probably generally well-stocked enough to get you by.
As for what you asked about freshman year reading, the majority of law ends up as reading cases. Textbooks are great for giving you an overview of an area of law, and oftentimes if your lecturer has written the textbook you're using you'll find a substantial intersect with the structure of the relevant course. However, most lecturers seem to prefer relying on the primary sources of law (caselaw/legislation), supplemented by some secondary sources (usually articles), as they teach their courses. Basically, prescribed textbook reading isn't necessarily the most important thing on a law course and it really doesn't occupy centre stage. They're an excellent resource for a student getting their head around the area for sure, but it all comes back to the case law in the end, whether you read about it in a textbook or not.