August 16, 2017

Using iPads in Law School

Laptop vs. iPad for law school: can you use an iPad for law school? Here's why I think you can use an iPad for law school and the iPad accessories for law school! Plus, how to get $300 off an iPad Pro AND get a pair of Beats Free! I also weigh in on iPad Pro vs. Microsoft Surface, and whether you can use a Microsoft Surface for law school. |

As a reiteration from last week— I love emails from y'all! Bare minimum they make me feel better about myself because even if I didn't get around to doing the dishes and I still have some readings to do, I can be like yeah well at least I helped a reader today and then I can count that as a productive day! Today's post is another answer to a reader's question about my thoughts on using iPads in law school.

iPad Pros and Cons

That's an iPad Pro pun, in case you didn't get that haha. Anyways, it's becoming a thing for people to use an iPad Pro in place of a laptop. In fact, my 1L year I remember a girl got started using one when we came back after Christmas break, and there was a guy in my family law class who did this too last year. 

One of the prelaw students that worked with me this summer has one and he let me play around on it so I could write this post. His was super helpful at work and I'm sure it's just as handy in class. I have an iPad Air and a lot of times will just bring that to class, so you don't necessarily need the big 12.9 inches. But either iPad is still cheaper than a MacBook. iPads are great because they're super light and compact, which is what you need because the last thing you want is anything adding any more weight in your backpack. And they can do a split screen just like a laptop so you can easily have a copy of your professors' slides pulled up on one side with your notes pulled up on the other. And if you get the Apple Pencil, then you can also draw any diagrams that your professor has used and have that in your notes. Another big plus is that if your school's wifi is every super slow, you can always just switch it over to LTE so you're not waiting. 

I will give you one big warning that you need to consider before buying an iPad for school. As far as I know, every law school uses Exam Soft for tests. Yeah that's right, in law school you can write your essays in a standard blue book or you can type them. Exam Soft is a program where you can download your test and only can enter the test during the time of your final, it shuts down everything else on your computer so you can't leave the app, and it will email your essays to your professor at the end. I personally prefer this method because I type faster than I write and I'm always running out of time for finals. But you need to know that Exam Soft is not available for an iPad. Ok, well technically iPads are compatible with Exam Soft, but your school would have to make an iPad-compatible test for that and I've never seen one do that so it's functionally not available. That means you'll either need to keep your old laptop and use that just for tests or borrow one from the library or hand write. Before you make the decision to get an iPad for law school, make sure you've got your back up plan set!

A note on eBooks

I've never used them for casebooks (which are basically textbooks). 1. I highly doubt you'll find them. 2. Most law professors don't allow any electronics in their classroom. 3. Sometimes they're actually more than a hard copy because you're paying the charge for them to digitalize it and rarely are ebooks available to be rented so you have to buy the full new price and can't later sell it. So I would only get a casebook on my iPad 1st if I had my syllabus and knew that my professor would allow this, and then 2nd weigh the literal costs and benefits of carrying a book versus having an eBook. 

But if in the end you decide it makes the most sense to get an eBook, I think it'd be perfectly fine. You should still be able to highlight and add notes on an eBook. 

But some books that I have gotten on my iPad were little books that I was required for class. This summer I took a nanotechnology law class and we had to read a fictional book that had to do with nanotechnology and then we had to represent a character from the book in a lawsuit. That book I did get on my iPad just because it was easier. I liked being able to search the whole book for a word I was looking for when I couldn't remember what page it was on and having all of my notes in one place. For another class we had to read this like 150 page book by a lawyer and that was another one that I just got on my iPad because we didn't have to bring it to class, we just had to know about it for when we took quizzes on it. 

How to make an iPad work for class 

If I were you, I'd get some accessories for your iPad. In college, I could get by with taking notes using the little keyboard on the screen because I had the app Swift Key. But in law school, that just won't cut it because professors go over a lot more material a lot faster so you need a real keyboard to keep up. I would for sure say that you'll want to get the Apple Smart Keyboard for your iPad so you have enough room to type (but off brands work too). 

Another thing you'll need is the Apple Pencil or a stylus. A lot of professors draw diagrams or illustrations on the board so that you can understand the concept better and it'll help if you'll be able to copy these down into your notes. Another great use for if is if you're a visual learner, you can draw out spider maps or flowcharts in your notes.

Probably the most important this is to always make sure that your iPad has power! One time in undergrad my iPad died mid class so I got out my phone to continue taking my notes on Evernote and my professor called me out for texting in class and I'm pretty sure he wasn't satisfied with my explanation on what I was doing. For sure always bring an iPad charger with you! But one thing that I've learned over the past two years is that the outlets that are built in to the desks don't always work. So if all of the outlets around you don't work, your iPad will definitely die if you don't bring a battery pack. I got this battery pack for study abroad because it holds a really long charge and is powerful enough to handle recharging an iPad.

Also, I would really download Evernote if I were you. This way, you can switch between taking your notes on your iPad and laptop and they'll sync automatically. 

What about Microsoft Surface?

I am an Apple fan because their shit lasts. I got my first MacBook my junior year in high school and it worked perfectly until I asked for the MacBook Air before my junior year of college because I wanted something lighter. I got my first iPad my freshman year of college and I kept it until my senior year of college when I got the iPad Air because again I just wanted something lighter. I gave my original iPad to my dad and he still uses it! Here's a great post about why another law school blogger switched from a PC to a Mac for law school

But to be honest, you totally can use a Surface just as well as an iPad for law school. My best friend has a surface and I actually wrote this post on it because my laptop died and I didn't have a charger. Keep in mind, though, that you need to make sure it's compatible with Exam Soft's PC requirements. If you were looking at a Surface solely for price, I hear ya, but just FYI as a student you qualify for Apple Education Pricing so they have iPads for up to $300 off plus they come with a free pair of Beats so maybe for law school it's worth the investment.


August 14, 2017

How to Turn Your Bed into a Study Space

Whether you're in a dorm, a small apartment, or just prefer to stay in bed, here's 5 things you need to turn your bed into a study space. Here's how to comfortably study in bed |

Hi and welcome back to my ramblings :) After my post about redoing a study space, I got to thinking about how not all apartments come with desks. My 1L year I technically had a desk but it was in a little corner and I ended up spending most of my time studying in bed. So today I figured I'd write a little post with some ideas for those of you who either have no desk or who prefer to study in bed— this one's for you! 

Lap desk

This is the first thing you'll for sure need! I got one of these pillow lap desks for my high school graduation and I still use it all the time! You can use it while in bed or even on the coach to hold your laptop and it's great because it'll keep your laptop from burning your thighs. This is actually better for your laptop too because it allows it to ventilate which keeps it from dying on you. 

But if you know for sure you just need something for your bed, then this adjustable lap desk would really be better. It'll keep your laptop from falling off your lap and is a lot bigger so it can hold more stuff. And then also on the weekends it can double as a little tray for breakfast in bed :) 

Book stand

I mention this all the time because my life has truly been revolutionized since I got one! If your lap desk is big enough, you can use it to prop up your book beside your laptop. And if your lap desk isn't big enough for this then no worries because you can just set it up on your night stand and look over at it. Just a warning it doesn't really work on super soft surfaces so if you just try to set it up on your bed, it's going to keep falling over. This is the book stand I have and I personally prefer how it folds because not only does it mean it fits perfectly in my backpack but also I can adjust the arms to be wider for super thick books or bring them in for smaller books and then it's a one size fits all.

Reading pillow 

This reading pillow is one of the first things that I bought for myself once I started studying in bed all the time. It's way better than just piling up a bunch of pillows because eventually those will start falling apart so you'll be constantly stopping to fix them. Plus, I really like having the little arm rests for when I'm typing. And for lazy days bingewatching in bed, this is absolutely perfect. I also got a bedside caddy in college that I keep my remotes in by my bed when I'm watching TV, but it's also really great to store all your 50 pens and highlighters so you aren't accidentally coloring on your sheets.

Swivel USB outlet

I actually got this outlet for study abroad because I thought it'd be easier to just run one plug through the adapter. Turns out I was wrong about that, but I've definitely got a lot of use out of it back here. It's great because it swivels so you can turn it horizontally and have room to plug in your laptop and phone and iPad and lamp. The swivel part really is more handy than you'd expect. 

Plus it actually has two USB ports on top of it so I have my phone charger in one and my watch charger in the other and still have 4 empty outlets! This is really handy because one of the worst things when you're all set up in bed and then have to go move your night stand to unplug your lamp just so your laptop and phone won't both die at the same time.


This lamp is actually something that I originally included in that study space redo post, but it really works just as well here. The worst part about studying in bed is when you get so comfy that you just slowly start to fall asleep while trying to study. What you want is a lamp that can be bright when you need to keep yourself awake (cool white mode) but then can dim down for when you're not studying and don't want something waking you up right as you're going to sleep (warm yellow mode). Extra helpful if you get an echo dot so that you if you do start to fall asleep, you won't have to sit up to turn off your lamp.

And that's all I need! Comment below and let me know if you have anything that you love to have with you when you're studying in bed!!