Now that the new academic session is about to begin, and a few of us are going to make a list of things we require before joining the law school, I would like to list out a few essentials that I find, are important while attending a University. Even if you are not a law school student, this list may help you figure out the things you need as it is not exclusive to law students. This list is not exhaustive, but it definitely can guide you to the things that you may require. So let us begin with it.
I cannot stress enough, how important it is to have your own laptop at law school. The laptop you use does not have to be a high-end laptop with all sorts of facilities like a graphic card or anything likewise, in it. The laptop you use must be able to support the basic files you would require at a law school, such as the chrome extension of Grammarly, Microsoft Office, etc. A laptop with a good RAM would definitely be a go-to!
The laptop I use is "HP Elite x2" and it works really well for me.
Most of the times, you will be required to work on projects, Moots, assignments, and many other things on your laptop. Therefore, having a laptop is always essential. Sometimes your teachers are going to provide you with notes and study materials online, so you will need a laptop to store all the notes, the study materials and the outlines provided. I personally prefer a big screen to read my study materials that have been provided, so I use laptops for this purpose.
I use a notebook to take down the notes in my classroom. Whenever the professor is speaking on the topic, I prefer to write them down because then I can always refer back to my notes without having to refer the book always. I keep a single notebook (6 in 1) for university, for all of my subjects. This method works the best for me because I can go back to my room and write proper notes down again while referring to the books. This not only helps me read and revise whatever was taught in the day, but it also helps me to find out if there were any mistakes I had committed while noting down the questions and doubts that could only arise if I read the study materials, and pre-read the materials before entering the classroom, the next day.
You could also use another method, that I used to follow but have stopped following for the fact that I turned out to be lazy. This method works very well for a few others in my class, so if you are one of them, I advise you to use this method. Make a separate notebook for each of your subjects. I used to have separate notebooks for every subject and used to carry them to my class every day. Other than the fact that my bag felt heavy, this used to do be something I was practising, because I did not want to write down everything separately when I used to get back to my room. This made me lazy because I would generally prefer reading the books and write down the extra points in my books which would be difficult to carry around especially during the last minute study session right before the exams. But if you are someone who learns this way, you are free to choose this method too.
While both of these methods really helped me score well, I would still prefer the former as it would motivate me to prepare myself beforehand.
As important a notebook is, a binder is also equally important for me. A Binder with a loose paper set is a really good investment. As I had stated, I use a single notebook for all of my subjects and it really motivates me to go back and write the notes fairly. For that purpose, I use a binder and, loose papers to put in the binders. They are A4 size plain white papers, where I generally prefer to take my fair notes.
It is actually pretty helpful having a binder because you need just one or two binders for all of your subjects and you can store your notes, as well as your other study materials into the binder and it is easily accessible with less space consumption and you have all your reading materials with you at once.
I love writing on loose pages and add them on to the binders and it does not matter how I want to arrange them, because they could be readjusted. I could write case laws separately, and add them back along with the pages of the topics they belong to and reshuffle them the way I want. It is easy to use and definitely cost-efficient.
A Sturdy Bag
For me, I generally have two bags- One for the University classes, and the other, when I need to go to a conference, or a seminar or even when I do not need to take all of my books to the classrooms on non-uniform (casual) day.
Having a sturdy bag helps because there are lots and lots of books that you need to refer to, as a law student. So, even if you do not carry all the books, a single book of law really adds weight to your bag. Therefore, it is recommended that you have a good bag to carry your books.
I use a school backpack for my general university days and use a Tote bag for the days when I attend a conference or a seminar. Both of my bags are really sturdy. They have multiple pockets too and I can even store my laptop in that and they help a lot because they are good for my shoulders and my shoulders do not ache while I carry the books and that is really important.
A Small Notepad
You could also use a small pocket journal or a planner, according to your convenience, as they all work in a similar manner.
I tend to carry a pocket notepad with me at all times because I really love writing down ideas or plans of the day. I tend to make a list of the things that I want, on my mobile phone but I always write down my goals in the notepad. I also use the notepad to scribble down something important that the professor has referred in the classroom, such as an important case law that I need to read or Article topics that I need to write upon and many other things. I always carry it around with me because you never know, when the bright ideas hit you, and you need to note them down. I mostly have it inside my pencil case because that is something I carry every day to my University.
Other than notepad, you could have a physical planner to plan your day, but I have not yet invested in a planner, because I mostly write the goals down in a piece of paper and when I'm done with the goals, I strike them off and keep them aside. I also sometimes use sticky notes to write down my tasks and stick them to the wall. It works for me. I am still not sure if I should invest in a planner, but do let me know!
Sticky Notes/ Arrow Flags/ Post it Notes
These are amongst the most essential stationeries that would be required because you will need them all the time. Whenever you're reading a book or reading your study materials or articles or even case laws, these are very essential. You can use them as bookmarks. You could also use them to write down key points in the book. You could use them to summarise your lessons into keywords. You could write down your goals and paste them on your wall like I did. There are many benefits of having sticky notes with you.
As a law student, I would definitely recommend one to invest into good stationery. I do find that highlighters are an essential part of note-taking and revising the structures. It is also handy when it comes to colour coding your notes because that is a really good way to learn your notes.
I love colour coding my notes. I use different colours for different topics and therefore, I have multiple highlighters. Colour coding your notes, helps you to memorise it better. It looks visually appealing and it also helps you remember the topics by the colour. I have recently invested in Zebra Mildliners and they are probably the best highlighters I have ever used with their pastel and neon colours. I also use Stabilo Boss pastel highlighters and they are also amazing! They do bleed sometimes when I press them really hard on the paper but they are definitely worth it. They have beautiful colours and I absolutely love them. I do love other highlighters too, but these are amazing!
I cannot stress enough on why it is necessary to have a good set of pens. I do know a lot of people who never bring pens and just sit in the classroom without writing things down, if that works for them, it is good, but personally, it has never worked for me. I always have a set of black and blue pens with me while I'm in my classroom. I generally do not take my highlighters to my classroom, but I definitely use black and blue pens to write. I sometimes also use other coloured pens to write down important stuff as it is easily distinguishable.
For example, I write the questions in black pen and write down the answers in blue pen. Or, I write paragraphs in black pen and mark the important points in blue pen. If there are any case laws or Sections that I need to mention, I write them down in a different coloured pen such as Red pen or an Orange pen or a Green pen. I have currently invested in Luxor Stick Pens, and I love using them a lot.
This also helps when you are writing down important points on a printed study material so that things show up clearly and can easily be distinguished from the texts. They are also easy to read and easy to memorise.
This is really important because you need to have one all throughout your law school as well as your working life. By investing in a document folder you would save a lot of space to keep your certificates and other printouts safe and organised. There are two kinds of document folders that you could purchase.
The first one is a big document folder with many different compartments to store different sets of documents. This is useful if you wish to store all the categories of documents that you have, into one single folder. It helps for those people who wish to keep everything together.
The second one is where you purchase a small folder and for each set of documents, you have a different folder. I personally prefer this method because then, if I need to access a certain set of document and carry them around with me, I do not have to take whole of the big folder with me everywhere.
For example, I use a different folder for my internship certificates, a separate folder for my publication certificates, a separate folder for my seminars or conference certificates, a different folder for my University documents, etc. This way, if I have to use just one document, I do not have to take out the whole folder.
You can choose whichever method fits you the best.
These were some of the law school essentials. Not just law school, but these were some of the essentials that I believe every student must have and be prepared with, before entering your University. I do not have all of my belongings with myself right now, so when I go back to my Hostel (Dorm) room, I will definitely share the pics of the stationery that I have.
Comment below if you find anything else that fits as an essential! Happy Reading!