The average cost of law textbooks each semester is equivalent to the GDP of a small nation. So you’ve scrounged around under your couch for loose change and even contemplated joining the workforce. But how much of your booklist do you really need and how many of your textbooks are expensive paperweights? Do we even need to buy textbooks at all?
Look at your course outline before buying textbooks to determine how much of the book has been set as required reading material. You might be surprised at how little you’re actually going to use the textbook – take it from someone who naively purchased a rather hefty, $200 textbook in first year, to discover that only two chapters were relevant to the entire course. The discovery that the lecturer was receiving royalties from the sale of this book only added insult to injury! And this didn’t just happen once.
Unsurprisingly, these experiences led me to the textbook free philosophy that I have been practicing throughout my time at law school with many benefits. Not having textbooks available 24/7 will help you become more organised; you might have schedule some regular library time to read and take notes, or photocopy a few relevant pages occasionally. There are many useful free, up-to-date commentaries online which are often better than the set books, and you will develop better research skills than your peers by finding relevant information for yourself.
Similarly, as you may not be allowed to take library books into exams, you will have to put more effort into exam preparation and writing good summaries to use. In the exam, you’ll have more time for thinking and writing answers, as you won’t waste precious time checking the textbook. With a few changes, you can succeed at law school without purchasing another textbook.
But if you can’t absolutely avoid it, then you’ll usually be able to find cheaper textbooks secondhand or online, using the Google skills that you have been secretly honing these past semesters. If you’re careful, you can use an older edition for the majority of most courses.
But for most subjects, use the tips above, and save your pennies for your lawdrobe – that corporate glory-box we secretly all have, full of business wear for that oft-dreamed about day when you land a job that doesn’t involve asking, “would you like fries with that”?
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