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Sunday, July 25, 2010

School Supplies

One of my favorite times of year is upon us... back-to-school shopping! You may not consider this to be a special time for law students, seeing as they're "old" and such. But after watching my husband go through school and office supplies 1L year like they were going out of style, I now know that this time of low prices and huge sales is indeed useful for those of us on a tight budget. I only wish I had realized this before he started his first year and we could have saved a lot of money!

Here are some supplies you might want to stock up on now (especially those of you with spouses about to start their 1L year):

Highlighters - I don't think I have ever personally used an entire highlighter before. However I think my husband used at least 5 packages of them over the past year. I often tease him about why he even bothers to highlight since he covers practically every word of every book, but apparently this method worked for him. If you're going to buy highlighters for your law student, be sure to ask him or her what color is preferred. My husband liked the plain yellow ones, but every student has his or her own style of studying and believe it or not, the color of the highlighter might make a difference.

Pens and pencils - This is an obvious one. Your spouse/significant other will take a lot of notes during class and as part of studying for exams. I would recommend stocking up more on pens, but do buy some pencils as well in case they want to write in their books without ruining them.

Post-it© tabs - They don't necessarily have to be this brand (though if your law student is like my husband it might matter). But these are the little tabs that you can place in books to mark spots and write notes for reference. These are very useful for exam outlining. My husband went through several packages of these (and they cost around $5-$8 per package). I imagine you can probably find them on sale in the next month or so.

Notebooks - This is another item of personal preference (college vs. wide ruled, 1-subject vs. multiple subjects, etc). Even if your law student uses a computer to take notes, he or she will probably need notebooks at some point to use during meetings, jot down examples, or plan out things like OCI (on campus interviewing).

Backup storage - Okay, this is not really considered a "school supply" per se, but it is absolutely critical if your spouse uses a computer to take notes, outline, or basically do anything related to law school. You can use an online storage service where documents are stored on a secure server, or you can buy a backup hard drive or two to place files. Either way, MAKE SURE your law student spouse or partner stores files in more than one place. You would think the odds of a hard drive crashing are pretty low, but this is exactly what happened to my husband during his first semester 1L finals (right before his last final!). He had luckily backed up most of his files, but he did lose a good portion of his outline for that last final and had to work around the clock to recreate it. No law student needs that additional stress during finals week, especially 1L year. This also happened to one of his classmates, and she was not so lucky as she hadn't backed everything up. So it happens, and it could definitely happen to your spouse (and I can assure you, you definitely don't want to be around if it does and the information isn't stored somewhere else!).

Lunch bag - Yes, this seems very elementary. But you would be surprised to see just how much money you can save by not eating out for lunch. We didn't take advantage of this until 2nd semester of 1L year, and it made a huge difference in terms of our budget. Just make sure if your law spouse is a guy that you buy a "manly" lunch bag, otherwise you might have a difficult time getting him to use it. Thermos makes some cool containers that keep food hot for up to 8 hours as well. They cost around $15-$20 but are worth it, and you can probably find them on sale. Or do what I did and ask for one as a Christmas present.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are just a few items that I recommend based on our experience. What items would you recommend adding to this list? Did your spouse use a school supply in large quantities that could be bought during back-to-school shopping for a fraction of the price?

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