One of the many helpful pieces of advice when it comes to law school is to be prepared. This is as much about being prepared for your classes and exams as it is about being physically prepared with what you need to thrive at school.
As a law school student, you’ll be spending countless hours in classes and on studying. Having all your necessary items close at hand will help you make the most of your time, wherever you are. Besides carrying around your absolute essentials, such as medications, toiletries, your wallet and phone, here is a quick list of items to also consider for your law school bag.
The law school bag
A comfortable and well-organized backpack is essential. It doesn’t matter what brand or what it looks like, as long as you can trek around campus without hurting your back. Your backpack will carry your laptop, casebooks, charging cable and more, so be sure to measure for sizing. Many students will opt for hiking packs that help to distribute weight evenly and have built-in ventilation systems. Other students may forego the backpack idea altogether and opt for a rolling bag.
Mac or PC
It doesn’t matter. Many law students love a Mac while others greatly prefer a PC. All that matters is that you have a reliable laptop with a good battery. Some people use Chromebooks and iPads or tablets. They work too, but if you plan to go with one of these be sure to check that the device will work with the exam software your school uses. You may also want to opt for an extended warranty so your laptop will survive throughout law school. If cost is a concern, an electronics increase on your 1L loan may help.
Extra power cords
Whether you feel safe with buying one spare power cord or you could really do with having two or three spares, having an extra charger for your laptop will help you never be without power. Ideally, it’s nice to have one power cord for your home base and one to take with you on the go.
This can come in the form of digital, paper or both. Handwriting your notes will help you better retain information, but utilizing digital notes will give you greater flexibility as you shuffle pages and add new information. See what works best for your studies (and price point if looking into digital notes).
Pens and highlighters
There is obviously a vast array of options when it comes to pens and highlighters, and really any will work. What’s important here is to find writing tools that are comfortable for your grip and writing style: thick gel pens vs. ultra-fine tip pens vs. erasable pens/highlighters. You’ll also want to consider how you’ll study and scan through your notes. Some students prefer to stick to only one or two highlighter colors while others thrive with a multicolored coding system. If you’re curious about different study styles, don’t hesitate to reach out to other classmates, 2Ls and 3Ls to see what their tried-and-true methods have been.
This isn’t a must have, but something worth considering. Your backpack will most likely have a nice array of pockets and storage compartments, but sometimes a little extra organization capability can give you a boost — saving the energy of always trying to find things. An organizational pouch can work almost like a padfolio and carry the items you access the most, such as your weekly schedule/to-do list, handouts needed for class, highlighters and pens, notepads and more.
You might not think of a book stand as one of your go-to study tools, but a bookstand can make it a lot easier to read books without straining your neck. They’re also a great space saver when your desk area is limited in class or at home. Bookstands come in various types, but many law students recommend a foldable/compact version and buying two, one to keep at home and one to keep in your backpack for the classroom or late-night studies in the library.
A reusable (and durable) water bottle is always good to have on hand to keep you fueled and energized throughout the day. A few easy-to-carry snacks are wise to throw in too, just in case your schedule doesn’t line up as planned.
Depending on your study style, you might work best with white noise, no noise, soothing classical tunes or blaring rock music. Regardless, being able to optimize and control your noise settings will be a lifesaver for your studies. A pair of noise-canceling headphones are exceptionally helpful in ensuring your study time is productive.
If you’re looking for study strategies, check out our tips for developing your law school note-taking and outlining system.