August 7, 2016

Essential Law School Supplies

Law school supplies. What you need for law school. What to buy for law school. Do I need this for law school? School supplies you need for law school- padfolio and legal pad, notebooks, folders, planner, water bottle, tile app, flash drive, binder, notecards, book stand, backpack, tote bag, pencil bag, lunchbox, laptop, GridIt, iPad, headphones, wireless printer, hole punch, stapler, paper clips, post its |

If you haven't gone in to full on panic mode about getting everything together for law school, then beware my friend because class starts in a few weeks and the panic is right around the corner :) But for real though, what I did and didn't need for class was one question that I never felt that I got a direct answer about. During orientation I got the oh-so-helpful blanket response that what I need will just depend on my study style. Well, here's what I think you should have. 

Class Supplies

Padfolio - Must have law school supplies |  Legal Pads - Must have law school supplies |

Padfolio and legal pad — I really felt like I was drinking the Kool-Aid when I realized that I loved these, because before I felt like only douches had a padfolio. The thing is, legal pads are great for taking class notes because there's no metal ring on the edge for you hand to run in to. And padfolios hold a legal pad, a pen, and handouts from you professor. Basically if you forget everything else but this, you won't die in class.

Notebook - Must have law school supplies |  

Notebook — But on that note if you're taking notes by hand for all of your classes, then you would have to keep up with like 3 or 4 legal pads on any given day. This would be super inconvenient considering that your books are huge so they'll be taking up a lot of space already in your bag. In college I would get two different 3 subject notebooks and use one for MWF classes and the other for TTR. My local book store sells notebooks with an extra-wide margin and I'm really starting to love it because I can use the "Cornell method" to take my notes. The bookstore calls this "law margin" but you can find them as Cornell notebooks if you're interested in getting one. On the left side I'll put the black letter law and on the right side I'll elaborate more and add cases and examples.

Related: How I Take Notes in Law School


You probably used a bluebook for finals in college which was basically just a bunch of notebook pages stapled together. That's not what this is. Basically every law school will make you get a BlueBook for your writing class which are all the rules you'll need to properly cite in legal writing. Remember MLA and APA citations you used to use for citing sources in papers? Yeah, it's like that but harder of course because this is the law and we can't do anything simple. You'll also use this for citations during your upper-level writing requirement and for sure if you want to be on law review or a journal. And if you're in Texas, we have our own version that you'll also need called the GreenBook which is how you cite Texas cases. Because we're Texas so of course we're extra and had to get our own book.

Related: Which books to rent and which to buy

3 Brad Folder - Must have law school supplies |

Folder — Another thing that I buy every year is at least one 3 brad folder. Sometimes I'll use one just to keep all my syllabi together in one place. This year it was extremely helpful when I was working on my big brief for legal writing because I could have a printout of my research for the case and my graded papers regarding the case all in one convenient place.

Planner - Must have law school supplies |

Planner — I also would bring my planner to class every day. It's really common for professors to drift from their syllabus just a little, so it's very important that you write down the new pages you're assigned to read so you don't waste time reading more than you have to. It also came in handy because a lot of times we'd have someone from either my section or another class come make an announcement right before class started about a guest speaker or something happening on campus that week, so I could make sure that I didn't forget about those.

Related: The Best Law School Planner

Colored Pens - Must have law school supplies | Pencils - Must have law school supplies | brazenandbrunette.comHighlighters - Must have law school supplies |

Pens and such — I always bring pens and pencils to class every day. Even in the classes that I took all of my notes on my laptop, I'd still need them for everything from signing in for attendance to jotting down notes in my book. I saw a lot of other students using this pen set and I think I'm going to try it out this year since it has so many color options. I usually prefer ballpoint pens because they glide so easily which is very necessary when you're quickly taking notes, so we'll see how the switch goes. I also make sure to bring my highlighters with me to class and will pick a certain color to highlight what my professor is going over in the book.

Related: The Best Highlighters for Law School

Water Bottle - Must have law school supplies | brazenandbrunette.comTo-Go Cup - Must have law school supplies |

Water bottle — Drinking water is just a good habit to get in. I started bringing water to class in the middle of my first semester and I feel like it helps me stay focused because I'm not getting up 5 times during a lecture to run to the water fountain. If you buy a reusable water bottle or cup with a to-go lid, you'll end up saving money because they're a lot cheaper to refill than constantly buying plastic water bottles.

Related: How to Budget in Law School

Study Supplies

Flash Drive - Must have law school supplies |

Flash drive — Between class notes, case briefs, outlines, and legal memos, you're going to be having a lot of information to save. While obviously you should constantly be backing up your computer or using something like Drop Box, go ahead and get a flash drive. It's really handy to have literally all of your work right at your fingerprints, no matter what computer you're on. We got a free one from WestLaw during orientation, but I never used that one because everyone had the exact same one and I want to easily be able to identify mine.

Binder - Must have law school supplies | Loose Leaf Paper - Must have law school supplies | Page Dividers - Must have law school supplies |

Binder — I personally didn't use a binder, but I have a friend at another law school who came up with a binder system and loved it. I think maybe it's because she hand writes her notes and I don't, so it's something to consider if you're handwriting notes or just like to organize a lot. In hers, she had looseleaf paper in the front to work on her outline and then behind a page divider she kept the hard copies of her briefs or any class handouts she got.

Related: Law School Success Using the Binder System

Notecards - Must have law school supplies | Hole Punch - Must have law school supplies | Binder Ring - Must have law school supplies |

Notecards — Again, I prefer a computer to paper so I actually use Quizlet for my notecards. But some people need to have something physically in their hand to study. So make sure you get lots of notecards because there's a lot to memorize. If you haven't been studying with notecards in college, make sure to grab a hole puncher and a binder ring to keep them together. I also like how people have started to highlight their notecards to color-cordinate them. 
Book Stand - Must have law school supplies |

Book stand - After reading for a few hours in a row, my neck will start hurting from looking down so this sets my book up so I can read without straining my neck.


Sturdy Backpack - Must have law school supplies |

Backpack — Being a Texas girl, I had a Jon Hart backpack from undergrad that I just upgraded to the large backpack this semester because my books were so bulky that I could only fit about one in there and had to carry the other two. I've recently noticed that a good amount of people have these rolling briefcase type bags that look like what I imagine actual lawyers use as their carry ons when they have to fly in for a day to do some work. However, these people are the kinds that bring ALL of their books every day for some God forsaken reason. Keep in mind that a lot of classrooms have stairs so you'll have to carry that big bag up and down the stairs for each class! I would definitely say just make sure to get a roomy backpack like this Northface backpack because the books are bulky (~700-1200 pages). 

A photo posted by Nikki ( on

A quick review of Jon Hart backpacks... 

Pros: colorful, waterproof, durable, customizable, roomy enough 
Cons: front pocket is kinda small, only has 1 side pocket that it isn't stretchy, the backpack itself isn't expandable

Related: The best 5 law school backpacks under $100

Tote Bag - Must have law school supplies |  Keychain Wallet - Must have law school supplies | brazenandbrunette.comTile - Must have law school supplies |
Tote bag — There will be times when you need to haul around your planner, padfolio, etc., but a backpack would be too informal. Cue the tote bag to the rescue. If I didn't have my big Louis Vuitton, I would definitely want a Longchamp (or this more affordable dupe). You need something big enough for your padfolio, but still professional looking. I wouldn't recommend using a purse as a backpack because you could really hurt your back like that. 

My senior year I got a keychain wallet and I love how it has a place for my school ID, drivers license, and debit card. Because it's attached to my keys, I never have to remember about brining my school ID with me when I don't have my backpack. I have a Tile on my wallet because if I lose this wallet, then I don't have my car keys, apartment keys, ID, and debit card. Tile is a little square chip that you can put in anything or attach to almost anything. If you can't find it, then all you do is open the app and your Tile will start chirping really loudly until you find it. I have one in my purse, in my pencil bag, attached to my keys, and attached to my cat (he gets out a lot). Sometimes when you're super busy it's easy to have so much going on that you forget where you put something, so I found this helps a lot.

Pencil Bag - Must have law school supplies | brazenandbrunette.comMinimergency Kit - Must have law school supplies |

Pencil bag — In college, I didn't put much effort into taking notes in class so I didn't even have a pencil bag. But now I always have my pencil bag on me because I use it as a catchall bag. I keep my pens, pencils, and highlighters in there obviously, but I also keep my flash drive in there (so it won't get lost at the bottom of my backpack) and even basic things like chapstick and a spare hair tie. I really want to get a minimergency kit this year so that I'll have room for more pens. 
Lunch Tote - Must have law school supplies |

Lunchbox — You probably haven't had one of these since elementary school, but it's time to bring lunch boxes back in style. Bringing your own lunch saves you money and calories because you know you're eating fresh ingredients. I also used mine every day during my summer internships because it's so much faster to bring a lunch rather than waste your lunch hour standing in line to order.


Laptop - Must have law school supplies | Laptop Cover - Must have law school supplies | Lap Desk - Must have law school supplies |

Laptop — Duh you'll need a laptop. Make sure that yours has plenty of memory available, is the latest operating system, and has all the software your school requires (probably ExamSoft). To protect mine I got just a basic cover and then added a monogram. I'd suggest you get a lap desk so you can study in bed comfortably. 

Related: How to Turn Your Bed into a Study Space

GritIt - Must have law school supplies | GritIt Laptop Case - Must have law school supplies |

GridIt — One thing I found for study abroad is GridIt and I still use both of mine to this day. The grid has all these rubber bands so you can strap down anything you want on yours. For mine I have: spare phone charger, laptop charger, earbuds, and a stylus pen. I asked for this for Christmas and got a grid and a GridIt laptop case. I always keep my grid in my backpack, and bring the laptop case when I'm not to lazy to put my computer in it. It's also great for traveling! 
iPad Keyboard Cover - Must have law school supplies |

iPad — If you have an older computer that's really heavy, you might try bringing an iPad to class instead. Because your books are so heavy, you won't want any more weight than necessary to haul around. If you get a keyboard cover, you'll be able to take notes just as easily as on a laptop. Although Word doesn't really work that well on an iPad, Evernote is a great substitute.

Related: Using iPads in Law School and My Favorite Law School Apps

Noise Reducing Headphones - Must have law school supplies |

Headphones — Another great gift I received before studying abroad is noise reducing headphones. I wear these all the time when I'm trying to study for finals because any little noise can easily distract me. I also like how mine will have white noise if you turn them on but don't have any music playing. It's just something relaxing to listen to that isn't as distracting as music or as lonely as no sound at all.

Office Supplies

Wireless Printer - Must have law school supplies | Computer Printer Paper - Must have law school supplies |

Printer — Your campus will probably have printers that you can use, but you might consider investing in your own. I love my wireless printer that I got last year because I can finish a paper in bed and have it print without even getting up. Then I can fall asleep on my computer and in the morning grab it on my way out. I'd also suggest getting a good supply of paper and ink, because I had a lot to print out my 1L year. I'd print off assignments to turn in for my LRW class, hard copies of my brief were required in my Contracts class, and during finals I printed off old tests.

3 Hole Punch - Must have law school supplies |

Hole Punch — Even though I already said this, you need to make sure you have both a 1 and a 3 hole punch. Trust me you'll end up using this all the time! It just ends up making you more organized when you can punch holes in paper and then file them in either a binder or folder.
Sturdy Stapler - Must have law school supplies |

Stapler — Again, another basic thing that you'll find uses for. In college I always had mini staplers but they would either break or get lost. Find you a sturdy stapler because sometimes you'll have a lot of paper to staple.

Paper clips — I'd say get a variety size pack because there's always something to keep together.

Paper Clip Variety Pack - Must have law school supplies | Small Post Its - Must have law school supplies | 
Large Post Its - Must have law school supplies | Tabbed Sticky Notes - Must have law school supplies | 

Post Its — Another thing to get in a variety of sizes. I use the flags to mark where I'm at in my textbooks (if you're someone who really likes to tab up your book, I suggest this cheap mega pack). I use little ones to jot down definitions. I use big ones for things I need to remember. I use tabbed ones for quick summaries during open book finals. I keep the Post It factory in business. 

Looking for more? Here's all my posts about law school supplies!

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  1. Something I saw a few people using when I took my "sample" class during law school tours was a book holder. It was genius! It took up a tiny amount of space, they still had room for their laptops or notebooks for taking notes but didn't have that awkward angle that occurs when the book it flat. They offer them pretty inexpensively through Amazon.

    1. Hey Megan! Funny you say that because I actually just started using a book holder this semester because my neck was starting to hurt from looking down so much. Thanks for the reminder to update this list and add that!

  2. In regards to binders, do you use a separate one for each class or do you use a large one for all classes and have dividers to separate the classes?

    1. I personally used one binder for each class that needs them because between handouts and outlines there could be hundreds of pages. It just depended on how many handouts I got, so a 1" would be fine for one class but I'd need a 4" for another (like for an open-notes test). I'd wait til you get your syllabus and get through the first week to buy any so you can first see if your professor gives out any handouts at all or if you'll only get like one page every other week to see what you'll need. But I do know people who get one XL binder for all their outlines and use dividers to separate them out by classes and then they have only one thing to haul around to the library. But again, I'd wait a little bit to buy them to see what system you decide to do!

  3. Would you recommend a padfolio and/or a binder for each class? I am leaning towards a binder for each class and just one padfolio. What are your thoughts on this? What do you use your padfolio for?