Saturday, August 6, 2016

Law School Textbooks

Many of you know that last week I made a post about finally getting my 1L class schedule. Along with that class schedule, I got my list of textbooks I need to buy for my first semester. Buying my school books is something that I always tend to look forward to for some reason, except for the price, of course. I enjoy the challenge of finding the best deal and getting ready for the semester. However, I have a feeling that buying law school books will be exponentially less fun.

My book list includes 7 required books, 1 optional but recommended book, and a clicker to be used for class participation. I selected them all on my university bookstore website, hit "Add To Cart", and waited to see the final total. Needless to say, I wasn't thrilled when I saw my order summary:

$1000 for one semester of textbooks? I knew law school books were going to be expensive, but not that expensive. However, I've heard it only gets worse. I told one of my friends who is a recent graduate from law school about my book list, and she told me her most expensive semester was $1,400. So I have that to look forward to.

However, I have the breakdown of exactly what this list consists of, and luckily I will be able to make it a little bit cheaper. So here's what that all means:

Required Books

So obviously, I am required to buy certain books for each class. The three main law school subject courses (Civil Procedure, Tortswh, and Criminal Law) all have massive coursebooks that are about $200 each. They are those fancy-looking red and black books you see on the shelves of really important people.  Civil Procedure also has a supplemental book required for about $75.So that's where the bulk of the textbook cost comes from. I am also required to buy a manual written by my law school faculty for legal writing, which is about $115, along with the law school Bluebook, which is about $40. My research class has the cheapest book, at $75. Also required was a clicker for class participation, which is not really a book but it is a $50 expense I have to pay so I am including it anyway.

Recommended Books

This semester, I only have one book that is recommended instead of required. It's an "Examples and Explanations" book for Civil Procedure. Like many law students, I wondered if I should purchase this book or not. Asking around among some of my older law school friends and as a recommendation from one of my professors, I have been told to wait and see if I want or need additional explanations to help me understand my class material. If I need more information, buy a cheap, used copy of the book. If not, save myself the cash. 

Buy or rent? 

All throughout undergrad, I usually purchased most of my books. I rented them for any science or math classes, because I knew for sure that I would never want to keep them. The rest I bought. I wondered if this is the strategy I should take for law school. In my mind, I should keep the books because they relate to my future career. But asking around, many law students have recommended only renting books. You can keep the valuable information in your class outlines, and get rid of the bulky books. To me, this is good news because it will save me money.

New or used?

A lot of people buy used books to help save money. I have always liked having new books. It is the same way in law school, pick whichever you want. The only difference in law school is that there is usually a lot more highlighting/margin writing, and I wouldn't want my book marked up that much. Therefore, I am still going to get new books for law school. But if you are not picky at all, save some cash with used books.

Buying from the bookstore

Buying textbooks from the bookstore goes against everything I have ever known. Amazon and Chegg were my best friends in undergrad. However, for my first semester of law school at least, I am buying my books directly from my university's bookstore. Most of my books were less than $10 in price difference from Amazon, so it really made little different where I would buy them if purchased new. However, Amazon and Chegg do not allow you to choose new or used books when renting, and I wanted new books. Therefore, I will be renting books new from the bookstore at my university.

Luckily, by renting textbooks, I am able to decrease the cost of my books to about $760. This is much better than the original $1000 I had anticipated. At least I know I will be forced to read each and every word of these books, so that will make them worth it. 

To those of you also buying textbooks, good luck!

- Bailey.


  1. Ha. Not to fill up your blog with comments but I happened to buy my books today and this really resonated with me. I've never had a $1,400 semester yet but I wouldn't be surprised by it. This fall, I am doing a clinic so I'm only taking half the classes and yet, my books cost me $821! Every single book I needed was a new edition and so I couldn't buy used. Then, I could only rent one. UGH!

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