Law school preparedness kit: What’s in my bag

law school bag

[ 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.


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.


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!

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