I have always been considered the “mom friend” that tends to overprepare and overpack. This was also true when I was in law school. I would typically carry a backpack, a bag, and a purse, on top of having a locker at the university. (Mind you I did downsize a bit in my later years). Although I had a lot on my plate (or should I say in my arms?), I wanted to make sure I was ready for whatever the school day would throw at me! Fortunately for you, I have survived law school and come armed with the knowledge I wish I had back when I was a young 1L. This includes (but is not limited to) knowing some essential items for law school that you may not innately think of putting in your bag. Of course you know that you need some obvious supplies like your casebooks, laptop, notebooks, etc, but there are plenty of additional materials that can really assist you in the school day. In order to make your life easier and get you more prepared, I have curated a list of items that helped me when I was in law school and that you should keep with you as well. Here are ten things for your backpack to help you out in law school!
If you are like me and live on caffeine, you will want to invest in a nice thermos or vacuum flask. (Unless you are into lukewarm coffee or tea, I mean no disrespect). These delightful containers will keep your beverage nice and warm (or iced!) for perfect drinking temperature! This way you will be sure to be energized and ready to take on classes all day!
There were many occasions when I was limited on time and had to skip lunch because I had a busy day. However, it is important that you eat to maintain your health. I always kept a little snack in my backpack in case I had to miss a meal or got peckish during the day. Snacks will help pick you up and get through those long lectures.
3. Water Bottle
Just as important as food, you have to drink plenty of water! If you are not properly hydrated you are setting yourself up for a rough time. Keeping a reusable bottle in your bag will help you quench your thirst and keep you focused during the school day.
It’s all about that money! You are probably like many Millennials or Gen-Zers who are “ruining” the cash business and do not carry money on your person. Personally, I am guilty of not keeping cash on me. However, it is good to have some bills in case of an emergency. Also, student organizations often have bake sales or donation booths in law school lobbies. One of the worst things is when you are craving a cupcake but don’t have a dollar in your pocket.
5. Phone Charger
This seems obvious, but you would be surprised how many people forget this and have asked to borrow mine! Unless you have a brick of a phone, batteries die very quickly nowadays. You want to make sure you have a way to charge up your phone so you (and it) can last all day. So bring an extra charger (and maybe even a portable charger).
You know when you get to the library to do some review and you can’t seem to focus because of the study groups around you? Headphones are here to save the day! These will help you get in the zone and cancel out any distractions. You can also take a break and listen to music or podcasts in your down time. I always throw a pair of earbuds in my bag just in case I forget my headphones.
Being organized is CRUCIAL to success in law school. It can be really hard to stay on top of things if you don’t have all your thoughts in order. You need to be aware of what classes are covering what readings, when assignments (if any) are due, and when your exams are! Thus, a planner is an essential tool for you to keep yourself together. I calendar my assignments and due dates so I can manage my time effectively. Whether you use a physical agenda or an online app, you need to make sure you have a planner with you.
This is something I have carried into my career as well. (Now, I have a shawl that I lovingly call my “professional blanket”) You should always have a light jacket or sweater in your possession. Law school classrooms are notorious for being “all seasons” rooms meaning, you never know what season you are going to get. Thus, if you have some layers, you can always make sure you are warm and comfortable.
9. Post-it Notes
These little guys are perfect for jotting down a quick note or reminder. These are also great for flagging a page in your casebook during lecture so that you can go back later and review a topic. Post-its serve many purposes and are generally great to include in your bag.
Or any medication you need really! I get headaches relatively frequently and get the occasional migraine. I always keep some sort of pain reliever on me because it is extremely hard for me to focus when my head is pounding. You want to make sure you are your best self in the middle of a school day. Thus, make sure you include any kind of supplement or medication that you need in your bag in case you need it.
Packed and Ready to go!
Now that you’ve gone through my “essentials” list, you can feel prepped and ready to take on a long day of studying. Feel free to modify this list and add items that you find helpful and allow you to be your best self. Also check out this list of items you should bring with you to a law school exam.
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