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3 Things I Wish I Had in Law School (and still use as a practicing lawyer)


If you're getting ready for law school check this out: we put together a free e-book called the “Ultimate Pre-Law Checklist.” Just click the link below to download it. It's some of our best tips and strategies for getting ahead before you start law school, and it will put you miles ahead of your classmates, just click here.

I want to talk about three things I wish I had when I went to law school- things which I still use today as a practicing attorney. Before we dive in, a little background. These are casebooks.

You'll get a case book for every single one of your law school classes, and a case book is exactly what it sounds like: it's a book full of cases. Now, I hate case books. Why? They're big, they're heavy, they're expensive, and what you'll find is that the authors of case books are incredibly lazy. Why? Well theoretically, they're supposed to go through the cases that they include in their case books and only include the most important material. In practice, that's not what they do. In fact, in practice, authors simply include the cases verbatim, which means you're paying hundreds of dollars for cases that are in the public domain, that you can access for free.

These things are HEAVY. As a result, some people will take those wheelie bags that you'll see in airports. When I went to law school, I often tore the pages out of the case books, because I hated transporting the damn things to class.

And that brings me to the first thing that I wish I had in law school, and that's this: a beautiful shiny tablet.

Technology has progressed so far that so many of the tablets out there are great – it doesn’t need to be an iPad, but the reason a tablet is great is because you can access all of your cases through it, and specifically an app called WestlawNext. In law school, you're going to get free access to West Law. It's one of the two major case databases, and you can go online to access your cases. So instead of transporting your big, heavy, useless case books, you can just bring one tablet or your laptop to class. When you use a tablet to read your cases, they will give you the bright-line rule (the thing that is most important about your case) right up front in the head notes. As a bonus, you can use a good tablet as a second monitor for your laptop. There are inexpensive apps that let you use your iPad as an extension of your laptop. Having a really good tablet would have saved me so much time in law school and it would have saved my back so much trouble from having to carry case books around all the time. So that brings me to the second thing that I wish I had when I started law school: a really nice laptop with a solid state hard drive a long battery life and cloud storage.

Every single lawyer that I know has a horror story and they all go exactly like this: it was a week before the final exam, they had just finished their outline for a class, it was so perfect that the angels were singing. They were about to print it out and then the computer went dead. They took their computer to every repair shop in the state but nothing could be recovered. Everyone has a story like that, and that's because you're going to thrash your computer around in law school. Spend the extra money and get what's called a solid-state drive. It has no moving parts, so it's much, much more stable - your sanity is worth the premium for the solid-state drive. Now on top of that, I would strongly advise using Dropbox or Google Drive some sort of cloud storage. Your outlines, your notes, your assignments - they'll automatically be backed up, and it just looks exactly like any kind of folder that you'll see on your computer anyway, so it's indistinguishable from putting your files on your hard drive anyway. If something happens to your laptop, all you'll have to do is log into your account and download the latest version. Finally, a laptop that has a big battery is self-explanatory. Some law school classrooms have plug-ins and some don't. Sometimes you'll be in a study session for hours at a time. A long battery life is worth it, and so much better than having to plug in every hour or two.

For the most part I'm talking about Windows and Macs. Why? Because you have to be able to run ExamSoft, and ExamSoft really only runs on major laptops with normal software on it. Your law school and your Bar Examiners are almost all using ExamSoft - it's the software that locks out your entire computer so the only thing you can do is use a word processor for purposes of your exam. It's the way they make sure that no one can cheat on the bar exam or on Law School finals. So, it's important to have a computer that can run that software, otherwise you will be totally screwed when it comes to the final exam.

That brings me to the third thing that I wish I had in law school and that is: a fast cheap laser printer.

Back in the day, laser printers were the size of VW Beetles and they cost more than a new kidney. Now they're the size of toasters and cost about seven dollars. You can pick up a reasonably fast laser printer with a built-in scanner for less than $200. In law school, you are going to be printing a ton - whether it's your outlines, your notes or flashcards you're going to be printing a lot and you want a printer that can handle that. What's great about a laser printer is that it's unaffected by water, which is great because you're going to be drinking a lot and you might happen to spill on your notes, which is the last thing you want. If you can get a laser printer with a built-in scanner, even better.

Those are the three things that I wish I had when I started law school. I use those three things every day in practice –they're going to make your life so much easier, and that's a huge part of succeeding in law school.

If you're getting ready for law school check this out: we put together a free e-book called the “Ultimate Pre-Law Checklist.” Just click the link below to download it. It's some of our best tips and strategies for getting ahead before you start law school, and it will put you miles ahead of your classmates, just click here.

Watch the Full Video on the 3 Things I Wish I Had in Law School Here:

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