As you prepare to start law school in the fall, your next question may be what supplies you’ll need to be prepared. Notebooks, pens and backpacks have been replaced by laptops, tablets and note-taking software; but what technology do you really need to succeed in law school?
Conducting research, writing legal documents, participating in online study groups -- you’re going to spend a lot of time on a computer this year. If you are buying a new computer specifically for law school, you may want to check with your school to see if they have a preference between Mac or PC. Since you may want to take your exams on a laptop and take notes in class, a laptop or notebook computer is often the best bet. Many schools also require the use of a laptop.
Tablet or E-reader
Casebooks and some laptops are heavy! You could save yourself the muscle pain of carrying them around all the time by investing in a tablet or e-reader that has the extra functionality for email, Internet research and note-taking. Some casebooks may be available electronically and a tablet or e-reader may be helpful, so long as you keep up during class with the specific pages being discussed while also taking notes.
Use the printers in your law school library, but if possible consider investing in your own -- convenience has value! Having a printer at home means you can print assignments when needed, without hassles of waiting in line or logging into a school computer. Be sure to stock up on ink and toner as well.
Also known as a jump drive, memory stick or USB drive, this external portable hard drive plugs into a computer’s USB port. This means you can work on any computer, save your work on your flash drive and take it home with you. It also works as a handy backup, in case something happens to your computer -- nobody needs a disaster at any time! A flash drive isn’t required, but it’s definitely useful and inexpensive to purchase. Snap one onto your keychain so your coursework and class outlines are with you everywhere!
Word Processing Program and Related Software
You will draft a lot of documents, including legal memos and briefs. To do that, you’ll need a word processing program. Microsoft Word is the most widely-used, but you may not have to purchase the software. Check with your school to see if they have specific requirements and if they offer the software to students for free. If not, you may be able to use a similar, free program like Apple’s Pages or OpenOffice’s Writer.
This may seem like an expensive shopping list, but you can find ways to work within a budget. If you already have a working computer, you probably don’t have to buy a new one just for law school. Some tablets have nearly the same functionality as a laptop, so if you plan to buy a new device consider doing some research to get the best option for your needs.. Remember to look at these big-ticket items not as expenses, but as investments in your future as a successful law student and attorney.