There are a lot of things you can prepare for—summer camp, rainy days, a dip in the stock market—but law school is not one of them. Sure, there are books you can read and tests you can take, but you’ll never be fully prepared to be “in the muck” until you’re already ankle-deep. That being said, there are a few supplies that will help make late nights easier and early mornings manageable as you transition into chaos.
Ibuprofen/Tylenol/Advil/Aspirin/that weird essential oil they sell at Whole Foods.
First things first: you need some pain killers. Between reading, writing, and wrecking your nerves, you’re going to have more than a few headaches. Obviously, it goes without saying that you should only take the recommended doses, but headaches are such an omnipresent problem that my school even has a vending machine just for Tylenol. (Thankfully, each packet is only about $0.50 each, which is an amount you can easily ask to borrow if you forgot to bring cash that day.) If you decide to carry your pain killers with you, here’s a pro tip: after opening the bottle, put a clean tissue in the bottle—it fills up the empty space and keeps you from sounding like a walking pharmacy. I learned that lesson the hard way.
Similar to the pain killer idea, your eyes will get pretty dry after a day of reading and writing (squinting to see the board doesn’t help, either.) It helps to carry a small bottle of eyedrops with you for days when you didn’t get enough sleep or spent too much time watching Netflix.
A reliable laptop.
Your laptop doesn’t have to be the newest, the thinnest, or even the fastest, but it has to be dependable. You need to be able to take notes during class and use it during exams. I’ve seen more than one person lose their mind during a final because their computer crashed mid-response. It doesn’t matter if you use OS or Microsoft, but always make sure to bring your charging cord! Nothing is worse than having the tools for success but being unable to use them.
In his best-selling novel, The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks once wrote, “You can’t live your life for other people. You’ve got to do what’s right for you, even if it hurts some people you love.” Unfortunately, that rule doesn’t apply in a law school library setting. Headphones are essential for listening to music, watching lecture videos, or even streaming a live soccer game (it actually happened). The importance of good headphones cannot be overstated: you need a pair that will allow you to “tune out” of the situation while not forcing those around you to “tune in.” Shh. You get my drift?
To keep you from getting “hangry,” you should always bring some snacks with you to munch on throughout the day.
You’re going to be logging a lot of hours in the law school; between classes, study groups, and even mock-interviews, you’ll often be there most of the day. The typical “9-to-5” mentality is only for good days. To keep you from getting “hangry,” you should always bring some snacks with you to munch on throughout the day. If you have a locker, just keep a few granola bars in there. You don’t want to be the person who snapped at your professor because you haven’t eaten all day. Yikes.
A metal or glass water bottle.
My first year of law school, there was a man who would bring in plastic bottles of Dasani to class every day—good for him, staying hydrated. After he’d taken a highly-dramatic chug and drained the whole bottle, he’d then SLAM it against the table and crush it like an empty soda can. So distracting. Listen, bring any kind of water bottle you want, but if you crunch your bottle on the desk, I will find you. And I will make you throw it in the recycling where it belongs.
I shouldn’t have to say this: a writing utensil.
The ABA’s new mandatory-attendance requirements often mean you will have to “sign in” during class. I know, I know, it’s a drag. But I’m amazed at how many people just show up with nothing at all: no laptop, no notebooks, no pencil. (Apparently no hopes, either.)
Carrying these supplies with you won’t automatically make you a better law student, but it will make you a well-prepared one. Save yourself the agony of a headache or an empty stomach and plan ahead: it’s gonna’ be 1L of a ride.
Alexandra (“Alex”) Sumner is a Chicago native who relocated to the Indy city. A recent graduate of IU McKinney School of Law, she loves reading, writing, and binge-watching the Food Network. When she’s not nose-deep in a textbook, you can find her thrift shopping, sleeping, or wishing she was at brunch.