Your Law School Shopping List

Back to school means having the right supplies - here's your list!

Office supplies
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Starting law school this fall? Here is a shopping list to help you get back-to-school ready. It may have been a few years since you did back-to-school shopping, but you will be glad you did! When things get going quickly and you feel that you don’t have enough time to get everything done, you don’t want to be wasting time picking up supplies you could have gotten together weeks or months earlier.


I know this might feel like high school again, but it is time to purchase some notebooks. I recommend that you consider handwriting your law school notes (or at least trying to). If you do that, then notebooks are a must. (Also, some professors are actually requiring students to handwrite notes in class and prohibiting the use of laptops, unless they are absolutely necessary, such as an accommodation for a disability.) Notebooks are more spiffy than they used to be though. My favorites are Circa notebooks, where you can reorder pages and move things around without creating a mess. I have seen them work really well for law students (Staples has a version too). Regardless if you are typing or handwriting notes, remember that your professors will likely give you some paper materials—syllabus, hypotheticals, and other handouts for the class—and you will need to keep them organized.


Do you have a favorite pen? If not, now is a good time to try out a few! Not all pens are created equal. If you are going to do a lot of handwriting in school, you may want to think about pens that are easiest on the hands (check out this post for some pen suggestions). You may also want to consider what color of pens you want to use. If you are planning on book briefing or writing in your textbooks, it is likely you want some non-black pen options (blue is my personal favorite).


Law school was the first time I ever used up a highlighter. Before, I may have lost a highlighter here and there, but I don’t think I actually ever used up all of its highlighting ability. Welcome to law school! Buy more highlighters than you think you need. And, again, if you are planning on book briefing, you may want to have different color options to help you organize your book brief.

Good Backpack or Rolling Bag

Law school books are heavy as are laptops, notebooks, and all the other stuff we carry around with us all day. It is a good idea to invest in a good backpack, messenger bag or rolling bag (if you want to save your back). Take into consideration whether you will be walking to school, taking public transit, or driving. I used to drive to law school and in a way used my car as my locker, switching out books throughout the day so I wouldn’t have to carry everything around.


We have talked about buying the right technology for law school. Be sure to think through your practical needs prior to investing too much money. With the right amount of research, you can find a laptop or tablet that can both meet your school and leisure needs. Once you find the right piece of technology, you have to consider how how you are going to keep your technology safe. A nice laptop lock can help ensure no one walks off with your laptop in the library! (Unfortunately, this happened to a friend of mine in law school.)


In many ways, I felt that going to law school was a lot like returning to high school! My school did not have great food options for sale on campus so I often found myself packing my lunch or dinner, so I had food to eat throughout the day. If your law school is in a similar situation, invest in a good lunchbox, so you can make bringing food to school as easy as possible.

Stock Your House to Simplify Your Life

One other thing to consider, as you are getting ready for school: If you have the space, it might make sense to do some stock-up shopping. Think through all the things in your house you run out of on a regular basis, ones that send you dashing out to the store. Can you buy any of these things ahead of time, in bulk? Stocking your house before classes start will cut back on the need to run out on errands and in the long run will save you time. And who doesn’t need more free time with all you’ll have going on in your 1L year? 

Thoughtfully getting your supplies ready for law school is a great way to get things started off on the right foot.