Law School Essentials: 9 Things Every Law Student Needs

You’ve accepted an offer to attend your dream law school, and now you’re wondering what supplies you need to prepare for law school. 

In this article, I’ll discuss what each law student should have and what tools I used to help me succeed at a top law school to get a job at a Big Law firm. Here are 9 things every law student should have in their arsenal during law school: 

1. A Reliable Laptop

Got an old laptop from college that’s more than 3 years old? If you’re about to head to law school, now is the time to get a new one. This is no joke. You absolutely need a reliable laptop for law school. 

As a law student, you will be taking your exams on your laptop using an exam software. Technology can be unpredictable and any technical difficulties during a graded final exam can be a nightmare. Most of the time, your final exam will constitute your entire grade for the course. You will have one chance to beat the law school curve each semester, and you don’t want anything to go wrong during that time. 

I’ve seen classmates having to deal with their older laptops crashing or the exam software refusing to load on the day of the final exams. The newer and more reliable your laptop is, the more you can devote 100% of your mental energy to acing your final exams. 

Before I started law school, I bought myself a brand new 13-inch Macbook Pro for around $1,300. I bought the base model, so there were no frills. Before that I had a 5-year old 15-inch Macbook Pro that would not stay on without being plugged in. 

During my final exams in law school, my laptop never once froze or crashed. I remember seeing one or two classmates dealing with technical difficulties during final exams and how stressed they were. In the end, they were given some extra time to finish their exams. Regardless, who wants to be in this situation?

Also, you’ll eventually be taking the bar exam on this laptop, which uses pretty much the same exam software as most law schools. Invest in something solid upfront. 

Now, I’m not saying that the only good laptop out there for taking law school exams is a Macbook Pro. But in my experience, a new Macbook Pro has never failed me. I’m sure a Macbook Air would work great too. 

Nevertheless, there are other reliable, non-Apple laptops out there. At my firm job, I currently use a Microsoft Surface Laptop 3. It hasn’t let me down yet.

You know where to find these laptops. 

2. Book Stand

A book stand will definitely be a great purchase with all the textbooks you’ll be reading throughout law school. Your neck will thank you. 

I actually spent my first semester without using a book stand. I eventually caved in and spent $12 to buy a book stand on Amazon. Spending hours hunched over and staring downwards at my textbook while looking up every now and then to type down notes on my laptop was more strenuous on my body then I thought. 

Here’s the book stand I had:

You can find this book stand here on Amazon for $12.

3. Two Suits

It’s no surprise that you’ll need a nice, tailored suit for interviews with law firms and other employers during law school. But why would you need a second suit? 

At the beginning of your second year of law school, there will be a giant job fair lasting up to a week where you will interview with many private law firms. Different schools call this law firm recruitment season different things. Some call it Early Interview Week (EIW) or Early Interview Program (EIP). Others call it On-Campus Interviews (OCI). My school called it EIW, so that’s what I’ll call it here. 

During EIW, you will interview with up to 15 law firms per day for maybe 3-4 days straight. These interviews may be conducted on campus or at a large hotel. The elevators are going to be slow as hell and full of people, so you’re going to be running up and down 3-5 flights of stairs each day trying to get to your interviews on time. 

At the end of the first day, you’re going to be a bit worked out and sweaty. Your suit may be a little disgusting, and you’re not going to have any time to get it dry cleaned before first thing in the morning tomorrow. You can most likely get by and wear it again during the second day of EIW, but certainly not the third or fourth. 

Do yourself a favor and get a second tailored suit. I think it goes without saying that you should have more than a few dress shirts or blouses in your wardrobe.

4. Monochrome Laser Printer

Some law schools offer free printing to their students. Others don’t. Some law schools, such as NYU Law, have multiple printers in their law school residential buildings. If you live on-campus and your dorm has free printing, then you can ignore this section.

Otherwise, you should get yourself a monochrome laser printer. Some law school professors don’t allow students to use any electronics, including laptops in class. When I was a first-year law student, I had to print out all of my reading notes for class because none of my professors allowed us to use laptops in class. 

There are several other occasions where you may need to use a printer. If your professors allow you to take open-book final exams, you’ll want to print out your course outlines. These outlines can range from 20-50 pages long per class. 

In addition, unless you don’t mind reading PDFs on your computer screen, you may want to print those out too. For your required legal writing course, you may need to print out some handouts too. 

You may be wondering: how about inkjet printers? Inkjet printers have a few disadvantages as compared to laser printers. First, they print at a much slower rate than laser printers. Second, the toner cartridges for inkjet printers are more expensive overall because they don’t last as long. 

I recommend the Brother HL-L2350DW monochrome laser printer. The high-yield toner (TN-760) prints about 3,000 pages, which will last you much more than a year of law school. During law school, I only changed the toner cartridge once.

You can find it here on Amazon for about $119.99.

There is also a cheaper model called the Brother HL-2270DW that does pretty much performs the same basic function (monochrome laser printing), but with less frills. 

This model has been discontinued by the Brother manufacturer, but you can still find it here on Amazon for $99.99. 

If you want to print documents in color, then get yourself a color laser printer. I never needed to print in color, so I just stuck with my monochrome laser printer. 

5. Computer Monitor

A monitor for your laptop will make things much easier when studying at home and especially when you’re consolidating all of your notes into an outline. I would just have my notes open on my monitor screen and my working outline on my laptop screen. 

It’s also useful when you’re writing your first-year briefs for your legal writing class. You’ll likely have a lot of windows and tabs open during your legal research session. 

The monitor I used during law school was the Asus MX279H 27” monitor. I think Asus discontinued this model, but it’s still available on Amazon for $209 here

If you can’t find it anymore, I would recommend the Samsung 27” super-slim monitor. It has great reviews and it’s cheap. You can find it here on Amazon for $164.99. 

6. Noise Cancelling Headphones

I found noise cancelling headphones to be really useful during law school. Our law school library had a quiet section, but the sound of people shuffling around still bothered me. 

I also liked to study in a bustling coffee shop during the weekends, so noise cancelling headphones were instrumental in helping me stay focused on my studies. If you plan to live with roommates, you may also have to deal with some noise in the apartment every now and then. 

Sony WH1000XM3/S ($278) or 4/S ($348)

During law school, I had the Sony WH1000XM3/S which served me really well during those years. At the time, I think this model from Sony and Bose’s QC35 comfort were the top contenders for the noise-cancelling headphones. Today, I believe the newer versions of these two headphones still dominate this market.

The model I had (Sony WH1000XM3/S) costs about $278 on Amazon here today and the newer generation (Sony WH1000XM4/S) is $348 on Amazon here. If you want to save money, I think the older generation is sufficient for your noise-cancelling needs. In fact, both generations look exactly the same.

Here’s an excellent video review of the Sony WH1000XM4/S:

Apple Airpods Pro ($200)

I currently use the Apple Airpods Pro. The noise-cancelling on this set is pretty amazing as well. I usually take the New York City subway to work every day, and the noise-cancelling on these airpods are pretty effective at keeping the noise out. 

The noise-cancelling is still not as good as the new Sony WH1000XM4/S, but it gets the job done.  So if you don’t want bulky headphones, you can go for the airpods pro instead. They will run you about $200 on Amazon here

Here’s an excellent review of the Airpods Pro:

7. Bluebook

The Bluebook is a guide to the uniform system of citations used by legal academics and law schools. During your first year of law school, you will be required to have access to a Bluebook so that you can use it to properly cite sources in your legal writing course. 

If you are interested in joining Law Review or any other law journal at your school, you’ll need to reference the Bluebook over and over again as you double-check citations in submitted articles. If you want to be a research assistant to a law school professor, you’ll need to deal with citations as well. 

You can find a new copy of the Bluebook on Amazon here for $59.99. But honestly, I would try to find a used copy or buy one off an upperclassmen at your law school for much less. 

8. Glass Food Storage Containers

If you want to save money by packing lunch for law school, you should get yourself a glass food storage container. But why not just a plastic tupperware? Isn’t that enough? 

Here’s the disadvantage with plastic tupperware: you need to pack it in a separate lunch box or something so that it doesn’t rip open and spill your food everywhere. 

With a glass container, you can just stick it in your backpack without having to buy a separate lunch box to hold it. You can hold all sorts of messy, saucy foods in it – beef stew over rice, pasta, etc. 

During law school, I would just pack my lunch into the glass container and toss into my bookbag without having to worry that it would spill inside and get all over my class notes and laptop.

For utensils, I would just stick a fork into a plastic bag and toss it into my bag with the glass container. I just found it more convenient to not have to worry about carrying a lunch box around. 

You can get a 4-piece set on Amazon here for $16.99. If you go for other brands, be sure to get the containers with the airtight glass lock sealing.

9. A Sturdy, Spacious Backpack

And finally, you have your backpack. Ideally, you would want a bag big enough to fit your laptop, one or two textbooks, your class notes, your water bottle, an umbrella, and your lunch. 

The backpack that worked well for me during law school was the Victorinox (Swiss Army) VX Sport Cadet Laptop Backpack. It pretty much checked off all the boxes above, and it has been sturdy enough to last to this day. 

You can find it for $59.67 on Amazon here

Final Thoughts

These are all things I used throughout law school, and they have served me well. I would say my law school experience was pretty smooth overall. I never had issues with my laptop during final exams, and I had a pretty good routine set up using these supplies. 

If you want to learn about how I graded into the top 10% of my law school class, I wrote a detailed article here about that. I also detailed my daily schedule during law school here