7 Essentials to Add to Your Law School Shopping List
It is essential that you’re prepared for law school. This means spending your summer months leading up to orientation wisely (check out our post on how exactly to do that here!), taking a Law School Prep Course (ours is FREE!), and of course, buying all of the necessary school supplies. In this post, we’ll focus on seven essentials to add to your law school shopping list to make sure you’re ready to go on your first day!
7 Essentials to Add to Your Law School Shopping List
This should go without saying, but it always bears repeating. Your casebooks should be on your law school shopping list! Every year in every class there’s at least a handful of students who do not come prepared to their first day of class having purchased the books and read the assigned cases. Don’t be that person! It’s imperative that you purchase your books before class begins in order to prepare your class assignments for that first day!
Give yourself plenty of time to read the assigned cases and know that it may take longer to read 20 pages of case law then it does any book. Check out this post for tips on how to read a law school case.
Keep in mind that when purchasing your 1L books, local bookstores may run out of necessary items. They don’t likely have inventory to supply the entire incoming class with the needed materials. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to find the books that you need.
Don’t forget to shop around for the best prices too! You can often find textbooks online and available for rental at a discounted rate.
You will be taking a lot of notes during lecture. For most students, they can most easily do this on a computer. (If you’re not sure whether to write or type your notes, here’s some guidance to help you weigh the various considerations.) Your computer will be your most utilized tool in law school so be sure that you have one that’s in working order. If you don’t have a computer but plan to type your notes, put a new laptop on your law school shopping list before the semester begins!
The last thing you want is your old laptop dying on you in the middle of class, or worse yet, during an exam.
If you’re in the market to purchase a new laptop for school, be sure to check out any discounts that you may have through your school on computers or Microsoft Office programs!
3. Highlighters, highlighters, and more highlighters
Prepare yourself for the first day of class by adding on at least a handful of different color highlighters to your law school shopping List. (Don’t purchase 10 of the same color!)
You may wonder why you will need so many highlights. The answer is because most students choose to employ a color-coding system when they read a case. This will allow them to easily recite the various components of a case (e.g., facts, issue, holding, analysis, etc.) if they are called upon in class. They can easily identify a specifically colored section as the answer the professor is looking for without stumbling through a sea of notes or pages with everything highlighted in the same color.
Learn more about color-coding and other tips to study successfully in law school (and the bar exam).
Lastly, keep in mind that while you should come prepared to school with highlighters that many bar prep companies and student service offices regularly give away highlighters to students. Use these to replenish your supply when it gets low, but be sure to keep at least a few on your law school shopping list!
4. A Practical Backpack
Keep in mind that law school books are HEAVY. So, while a chic crossbody may look cool, it might kill your back in the long run. Many students opt for an option with wheels. Consider whether you’ll get a locker at your school and how best you study. If you do all your studying at school, you may opt for a smaller backpack since you won’t need to lug everything to and fro. If you opt to mostly study at home or outside of the law school, then something bigger will be more practical to transport all of your items.
Related to tip #4, law books are heavy and cumbersome. You’ll be doing a lot of reading and it may be difficult to hold the book up to eye level for hours on end. Alternatively, you may give yourself neck pain if you’re continuously bending down to read a book off of a table. Instead, put a book stand on your law school shopping list to prop the book up for you. This will save your neck and hands in the long run!
6. Page tabs
As an alternate or complement to color-coding by highlighting, many students also track pages in a casebook with page tabs. These are little rectangular stickers you can stick on a page to save your place. You might use these page tabs as book markers. Opposed to a traditional book marker that saves the page you were on, a page tab can allow you to indicate exactly where you left off. This will save you time! Other law students use page tabs according to a personal color-coding system, where they’ll indicate the page on which the facts, issue, holding or analysis may be found. This saves you one extra step of flipping through the pages of a long case if called upon in class.
7. A reusable water bottle
One cannot sustain themselves on coffee alone during law school. Even if you try, it’s very easy to get dehydrated throughout a day of classes and studying. Whether you have a dedicated water bottle for water and another for coffee, you’ll soon learn that it’s essential that you have something to drink to keep you alert through long days. Just throw these in the pockets of your backpack and refill at school as needed. Simply having water on hand will help you remember to drink it more.
Being hydrated will also help you feel healthier, stay focused for longer, and stave off headaches. And if you’re called upon in class and your mouth suddenly goes dry (which happens to the best of us!) you’ll have a water bottle on hand so you can take a sip and speak without a struggling due to dry mouth.
You may be able to avoid putting this on your law school shopping list if your law school gives these to admitted students for free. If so, use your free swag to the fullest!