Gifts for New Law Students: Yays and Nays

By William Peacock, Esq. on July 23, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Little Jimmy is about to embark upon a three-year journey, an epic academic trek that will lead to a juris doctorate, and if he is truly lucky, a career that uses it. You want to encourage Jimmy and to help him succeed. After all, with dim employment prospects, he'll need to maximize his chances by doing well in school and looking the part.

With many schools starting up in only a month, here are a few "yays" and "nays" on gifts for matriculating students:

Study Supplements

Yays - Examples & Explanations

If there was one study supplement that I’d recommend, it’s the Civil Procedure: Examples & Explanations book. After months of Socratic torture, I understood about half of what I needed to know for my first-semester final. After two days of cramming with the “E&E,” I understood everything, including the nightmare that is the Erie Doctrine.

Each E&E book in the series provides plain-English summaries of the concepts, then has sample questions to test understanding. Stick to common first-year subjects, like Contracts, Criminal Law, Torts, and Civil Procedure.

Nays - Law Dictionaries, Case Briefs

There is no need for a massive paper dictionary when we have the Internet. Jimmy will not use it. And no, it will not look pretty on his desk.

Case briefs, or “canned” briefs, outline the case for the over-worked law student. While it is often recommended to avoid these briefs for the first few weeks of school, as it is important to learn to distill a case on one’s own, at some point, time constraints make these a necessity.

Unfortunately, these are often matched to the textbook, and each professor chooses their own preferred books. There is no way to know in advance which book will work for each class. Plus, many of these are now available for free online.


Yays - Gift Cards for Business Wear

Jimmy will definitely need a suit for interviews and other occasions, and the fit of a suit varies by brand, product line, style, and a number of other variables. You’ll want to bring Jimmy to a store in person, or give him a gift card and let him handle the shopping.

Nays - Online Suit Shopping

It’s tempting. I’ve owned an online-sourced suit or two. The problem, however, lies in fitment. One showed up with a jacket that fit like a bag, and pants that fit like skinny jeans. Another only needed hemming of the legs. You won’t know until it arrives, then you’ll have to pay for alterations or return shipping.

Other Gifts

Yays - Movie and Music Streaming Services

He won’t be studying all day everyday. Netflix is a great way to unwind. Music streaming services, like Spotify and Google Music are also great ideas, and can come in handy during and after studying.

Nays - “Fun” Reading, Planners, Briefcases

He won’t have time to read, especially John Grisham novels. Nor will he use a paper planner or calendar. (We all have smartphones and computers now.) And briefcases? That might come in handy when he has a job, but for now, he probably won’t want to schlep a hefty briefcase around school.

Got any other ideas or questions? Did you receive a particularly helpful gift during your 1L year? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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