Gifts for Incoming First Year Law Students

A friend recently asked for gift suggestions to give to a new incoming law student. This request had a certain irony, as those who know me well know that I am completely gift-challenged (and doubly ironic, as another friend had asked me about gifts to give law professors). So, at the risk of further exposing my gift-incompetence to the world, here’s the suggestions I made:

Books to help with the first year

* Eugene Volokh, Academic Legal Writing [always check for the latest edition]. I can’t tell you how many 2Ls and 3Ls have told me that they wished they had read Volokh’s book as a 1L. There are many other books in this genre, such as Fischl, Getting to Maybe.

* Bluebook. Every 1L is going to have to buy it, and worse yet, they will curse having had to spend money on something so worthless. So this is an ideal 1L gift–much needed, often used, and something better received than purchased.

* There are some packages of commercial outlines covering the full range of first year courses, like Gilbert Law Summaries: First Year Program. This would be a nice one-stop resource for students who are probably going to buy commercial outlines anyway. You could also buy individual commercial outlines, especially if you had a favorite.

Media depictions of the first year:

* Scott Turow, One-L. I won’t say that this is the easiest book to read as a prospective law student, but it’s a still-relevant preview of life as a 1L.

* DVD of Paper Chase or Legally Blonde. Neither of these are all that realistic, but they are still both fun.

Tools to help professional development:

* Student membership in the ABA or another geographically proximate or topically relevant bar association, such as INTA for trademark students. Getting your recipient involved in a bar association might be a great way to jumpstart his/her networking/job search/expertise development, so this is a gift that could, in theory, keep on giving.

* How to Pay for Your Law Degree. Disclosure note: this is my mom’s book. However, it’s a great resource because it lists various scholarships and writing competitions for incoming and current law students. This might help your recipient get some extra dough for law school or gain extra recognition.

* Multi-color highlighter set. This is partially a joke–recall Dahlia Lithwick’s meltdown over her choice of highlighter colors. But I think a lot of law students burn through a lot of highlighters in law school, so why not help them out a bit?

Fun stuff:

* Silly shirt from a Cafe Press shop

* Gift certificate(s) for stress reliever (massage, LaserTag, weekend getaway, etc.)

Let me know if you have any other ideas!

[note: some links go through Amazon Affiliates]

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