A Checklist of Law School Supplies

The Essential List of Things You Will Need in Law School

If you’re ready to start your first year of law school but not sure what you should buy before classes start, here is a list of some suggested law school supplies to make your back-to-school shopping easier.

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Mixed race businesswoman reading at desk in law library
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Most law students have their own laptops for taking notes and exams. Laptops are even mandatory now at some schools. You should take into consideration whether or not you need to invest in a new laptop before beginning law school, as they are big investments, and it’s hard to say what you’ll want and need before you actually begin law school. 

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You may do just fine printing out everything at school, but if your school makes you pay, you may want your own. Before beginning classes, you should do some research into your school’s law library to see if printing is included in your tuition. Even if it is, there may be times when you’ll want to print at home, such as during a take home exam.

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Backpack/bookbag/rolling suitcase

How you choose to lug around your extremely heavy law books (and possibly your laptop) is a matter of personal choice, but regardless, you’ll need something large, sturdy, and reliable. You should also make sure there’s a place to secure your laptop inside. Another thing to take into consideration is the mode of transportation that you’ll be taking to and from school—that may help you decide what kind of bag to purchase.

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Notebooks/legal pads

Even for those who take notes on their laptops, notebooks and legal pads always come in handy. For some people, writing something out by hand commits it to memory better, which may prove to be a priceless tip in law school.

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Pens of different colors

Jotting down notes in different colored pens will help you find important information later. They can also be used to organize your life in your calendar.

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Highlighters in different colors

Many students use highlighters when case briefing in the book; the most effective way is to use a different color for each section (e.g., yellow for facts, pink for holding, etc).  You will likely use up multiple highlighters each semester, so buy more than you think you’ll need.

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Post-it notes, including the small index tabs

Use these for marking off important cases or discussions and for writing down your questions; the index tabs are especially useful in the Bluebook and in codes like the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC).  Post-it notes are also useful for reminders and for organization.

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Folders and binders can be used to keep handouts, outlines, and other papers organized.  There will always be times when professors hand out hard copies of something in class, so it is best to be prepared with a way to organize all of your loose papers.

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Paper clips/stapler and staples

Select your method of choice for keeping papers together.  It might be a good idea to have both, as staplers often have a limit for how many pieces of paper they can hold together.

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Daily planner (book or on computer)

It is extremely important to keep track of assignments, progress, and other engagements.  Whether you decide to keep a paper planner or organize your life on your computer, it is advised that you start keeping track from your very first day.

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Printer paper and extra printer cartridges

These are only needed if you have a printer at home, of course.  If you do, you should make sure that you have both black and colored ink, so that anything you have color-coded on your computer prints out as it is supposed to look.