List of Law School Supplies

What supplies do you need to start law school?

Law school is different from much of your previous education because it is a professional school. There is no one list of supplies that is right for every law student. However, there are some basic techniques that are recommended, especially when you are just starting out. From good highlighters to a sturdy bag to carry your books and laptop, there are some things that are nearly universal among law students.

This list of law school supplies was created after three years of experience dealing with law school classes and assignments. While your experience may vary, this is a good place to start for your first classes. As you read through the recommendations, think about your learning style. With four or more years of higher education behind you, you are probably familiar with how you learn best. Keep your learning style in mind when buying school supplies and starting classes.

Featured Image: The Law School Casebook by David Ortez
Reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0

Highlighters are Key

You will go through many highlighters. More than you can possibly imagine! I've used all the different brands over the three years and realized that many of the cheap highlighters are just as reliable as the fancy ones with replacable cartriges. Buy cheap ones in large quantity so you don't run out during finals and have to grab a pack at the expensive prices the student store charges.

Color is a choice that many law students agonize over. A popular book about starting law school recommends highlighting cases using five different colors on different aspects of the case. Almost no one does this by the end of the first semester. Personally, I went with a basic yellow highlighter. But, if you like a different color (or combination of colors), go for it. Don't let anyone tell you there is one "right" way to do your reading. If you understand it and have the important information marked for reference during class, you are fine.

Let's be honest.  People who judge what color highlighter you use either have way too much time on their hands, or are trying to psych you out!

Sharpie Accent Tank-Style Highlighters, Fluorescent Yellow, 12 Pack (25025)
0 $5.19

Sharpie happens to make most of my favorite products. These are your standard, classic highlighter in a box of 12 (a good start for your first year). I find them to be long-lasting and good quality.

What's your favorite highlighter color?

Highlighters are the number one item on a list of law school supplies. Do you have a favorite?

Great Pens

Find a Pen that You Love

From jotting notes in the margins of your casebooks to taking notes in classes where the professor bans computers, having good pens can be very helpful.  While you should pick the law school supplies that work best for you, let me take a minute to recommend my favorite brand of pens.

Sharpie Grip Pens, Fine Point, 2-pack, Blue (1758051)
Sanford $8.64

These sharpie pens are easy to hold and write wonderfully.  They don't smear or smudge and last for a long time.  I'm quite impressed, so these have become the only pens I buy (they are also available in blue and red).

Sturdy Bag or Backpack

You will be hauling around a laptop and heavy casebooks. Think about how you want to do that. At my law school, there was a wide variety in what people carried. Messenger bags, briefcases, traditional backpacks, and even rolling suitcases were common. Ultimately, the important part is finding something that you like and feel comfortable carrying (preferably that won't hurt your back either).
Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag 2013,Black/Black/Black,M
Timbuk2 Bags
I went with a standard messenger bag. Look for one with a separate compartment to keep your laptop safe, plus a little padding. This is a good choice for law schools with lockers in the building. If you are regularly going to carry more than one or two casebooks, this isn't enough support for you.
High Sierra Loop Backpack (Black/Charcoal)
High Sierra Bags and Luggage $27.11
Skip the Jansport and look for a backpack that is a little sturdier. Something with a padded back and multiple compartments to keep you organized is helpful. If the backpack you like doesn't have a compartment for your computer, make sure to get a protective sleeve for it!
Kenneth Cole Reaction 524975 Luggage A Brief History Portfolio, Black, One Size
Heritage-Kenneth Cole Luggage $84.99
Briefcases can be a great option if you want to keep things professional (or if you will be going from class to work at a law office or courthouse). Skip the rigid look and find a softer leather option for a more modern look.
Travelpro Walkabout Lite 3 Rolling Tote, Black, One Size
Depending on where you go to law school, this bag may garner a funny look or two. However, it is much better for your back if you tend to carry around many books.
High Sierra Freewheel Wheeled Book Bag Backpack, Black,One Size
High Sierra Bags and Luggage $53.83
This bag has a more traditional backpack feel, but still has the wheeled option available should you need it. As an added plus, it has a built-in laptop compartment (if I haven't drilled it in enough, your laptip will be your most important law school supply - protect it).

Advice on Study Guides

Wait until you arrive at law school before buying study guides. Older students will be able to tell you what ones are best for which professors; plus, they will probably sell you their old ones at a big discount.

Leather Portfolio

If you are a person who regularly takes notes by hand, a more traditional notebook is probably a good idea. However, if you plan on taking notes on a computer you won't need one more of the time. Having a good portfolio that fits legal pads is a professional way to take notes at those times when you do need to.
Simple Leather Padfolio
This portfolio really is simple - it isn't more than a law student would need. It has a pocket for storing documents and a business card holder. Beyond that, you really don't need a portfolio to have much else!

Further Reading on Law School

Are there any law school supplies that I missed?

Are you a current or former law student? Let us know what you think is important for 1Ls to have when they begin class. If you are willing, share which law school you attended (after all, they each have a different culture). You might be able to help someone find the best law school supplies!


20 leaves
11 forum posts
mihgasper on said:
I don't intend to study law, but know some lawyers and they have one thing in common: they always carry a lot of papers. I think law studies can be good for muscle building too;-)

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