Should you buy a Law School Backpack?

Tips for selecting the best carryalls for law school

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If you are starting law school in the fall, you might be wondering, what am I going to carry all of my stuff in? We have already talked about all the stuff you need from technology to study materials. But now, it is time to turn our attention to one of my favorite fashion obsessions, bags.

Some of you may be wondering, should a law student carry a backpack? A briefcase? A rolling bag? A messenger bag?

Lucky for you, I think all of these are acceptable, but you want to weigh the pros and cons for each before you invest any money in a new bag for law school.

Before we discuss the different bag options, let's talk about all the stuff that will go in your bag. You will likely be carrying around a laptop, power cord, at least one large textbook, school supplies (like highlighters and pens), a notebook, keys, wallet, glasses (because if your eyes haven’t gone bad before law school, just you wait), cell phone and possibly a lunch bag (if you are planning to bring food for school).

And ladies, a special note for you. I think one of the other considerations you want to think through is whether you are going to carry a purse and a backpack of some kind or just carry one bag. The purse-plus-backpack choice can be a lot to lug around (spoken from personal experience). If you choose not to carry a purse, make sure your bag of choice has plenty of room for your go-to items like your wallet, sunglasses, reading glasses, cell phone, makeup bag … you get the idea.

Man, that is a lot of stuff to carry around, isn’t it?

Okay, let’s start with a backpack.

I am the child of the Jansport generation which is apparently still around, (who knew!) so my love of backpacks started from a very young age. Although I went through a messenger bag phase, the weight of law school (weight as in literal weight of all the crap I was carrying around) made me turn to the backpack, yet again.

Is the backpack terribly professional? Probably not, although there are definitely professional backpacks out there. But to me, when you are in school, of more importance is whether the bag functions well, is sturdy, and you like it.

Unlike the backpacks of our youth (or my youth, at least), you probably need a backpack with a padded laptop sleeve to protect that all-important computer. I will admit, Timbuk2 is my favorite brand of backpacks because they are indestructible. They have an amazing lifetime warranty where if something goes wrong with the bag, you can simply get a new one. I have had this happen and they literally gave me a new bag. So, if is more of an investment than other bags, at least it is a long-term investment.

Backpacks are easy to carry lots of stuff in. But what if the weight of your backpack is literally too much for your body to  handle?

Try getting a bag on wheels.

I must admit, I didn’t get a bag on wheels in law school, but there were sure times that I wish I had had one. Those books and computers can get super heavy. Sure, they may not be the chicest option, but they definitely get points for function. If you do go the bag-on-wheels route, just make sure you don’t roll into school with a full airport carry-on suitcase.

That is a little too much. Then, people may think you are literally living in the library, which I don’t think is the image that you are trying to portray.

This type of bag doesn’t need to break the bank. You can invest in one for as little as $40 or one that is a bit fancier for $92.  Again, remember that law school isn’t a law office, and you don’t have to be professional all the time. Just find something that you feel good lugging around and will meet all your needs.

What about the beloved messenger bag?

Well, I love my messenger bag (it is sitting next to my feet as I type this). I have a Timbuk2 messenger bag as well because, as you can tell, I am somewhat obsessed with their stuff (their luggage is fantastic too and no they are not paying me to say that). The problem with the messenger bag in law school is simply the amount of stuff you end up carrying with you!

It can be hard to fit it in a bag that will rest on one shoulder. If you have a long way to walk from home to school, you might want to think about whether or not your back can take the uneven weight of the messenger bag. It might be something to save for a time when you don’t have to carry so many heavy books (and your lunch, and your computer and so on … and so on…. ).

Is there a right or wrong answer as to what bags to carry in law school? Nope! Just be yourself and find something that will work for you. You will have plenty going on starting school, so don’t stress out about whether or not you have the right bag. Heck, you may have a bag at home you can use and not even worry about buying a new one! But if you are shopping around, just think through your purchasing decisions. Your laptop (which will be snuggled safely in its case) and your very tired back (from carrying all of those books) will thank you. 

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Your Citation
Burgess, Lee. "Should you buy a Law School Backpack?" ThoughtCo, May. 29, 2015, Burgess, Lee. (2015, May 29). Should you buy a Law School Backpack? Retrieved from Burgess, Lee. "Should you buy a Law School Backpack?" ThoughtCo. (accessed April 21, 2018).