The Law School Bag: What’s in Mine?

[ Mara Masters, 1L at Emory Law ]

One of the most frequent and helpful pieces of advice I’ve received since starting law school is to treat school like a job. Half of the week my classes get out pretty early, so I take advantage and go home. As soon as I pull into my driveway though, my brain goes into “home mode” and it is pretty much guaranteed that no more schoolwork will be happening.

To compensate for this reality, I spend the other days out of the house, sometimes at the Law School or in another campus building or library and sometimes at a coffee shop.

I really hate being unprepared, so most of the time the inside of my backpack resembles a miniature fallout shelter with compartments for you know, food, medication, toiletries, etc.  Whatever I might need at any point of any day, even though I could get virtually anything I need at the law school café or the drugstore on the corner. I justify the weight of it by telling myself that law school is stressful enough without wondering if I have any ibuprofen with me.

So, without further ado, here’s all of the info you definitely never asked for about how I schlepp my law-school-preparedness kit around.

law school bagThe Law School Bag

I use the previous generation of this amazingly comfortable and well-organized North Face backpack. I carry a 15-inch MacBook, which weighs about the same as a baby orca. Add casebooks on top of that and I desperately needed a bag that wouldn’t destroy my back before I even sit for the Bar. This bag distributes the weight like a hiking pack would and has a built-in ventilation system. This is great because Georgia is a crazy humid place. It also has so many pockets. It’s incredible.

Notebooks

I use a combo of digital and paper notes, so I use disc notebooks to allow for flexibility in shuffling pages around and adding new ones. I use the Tul system because it is relatively less expensive, but the Levenger and Arc systems are also great.

Pens

After years of searching for just the right pens and highlighters, I have settled on Pilot Ultra-Fine pens, Gray Mildliner highlighters, and Frixion erasable highlighters. I have a lot of respect for those who brief their cases in book with a color system, but I cannot handle that much happening on a page. So instead, I use gray mildliners to highlight in-book and use a color-coded system for my notes. (More on that to come!)

Better Together Pouch

If you can’t tell, I really like pockets and pouches. I find that it helps me to always know where everything is, which means I spend that much less energy trying to find things.

law school bag

Inside my pouch, I usually have a clipboard with my weekly schedule and to-do list, loose disc paper, and any handouts I need for that class. I keep my highlighters and two transparent colored reading guides that I use as straight edges (because if I am going to highlight in a book, it better be in a straight line), some sticky notes, tabs, and a small legal pad.

Water Bottle

Because hydration is key and plastic water bottles are dumb and wasteful. I use a very large and dented Hydro Flask that I got many years ago and then proceeded to drop a thousand times. It has held up remarkably well.

Noise-Canceling Headphones

Let’s be real – the law library can be a great or a terrible place to work, depending on who else is there. An excellent pair of noise-canceling headphones are so helpful in ensuring the library is always a good place to work. I have a Nuraphone subscription, which has been the perfect option for me.

I also always have plenty of protein-rich snacks in my bag because no one likes a hangry law student.

What do you keep in your bag? Check out the @the1lLife on Instagram and Twitter for even more fun pictures of what I keep in my bag!