Back to school lists for lawyers

 Lisa Henderson-Newlin, The Levison Group

It’s already back-to-school time. Can you believe it? Kids are mentally preparing themselves to get back into the routine of homework and parents are mentally preparing themselves to get back into the routine of pretending to know the answers to said homework. Back to school time means parents spending at least one full paycheck buying items to accompany their kids on their return to school. Those items will then be promptly lost in either the bottom of a book bag or at the back of the bus. Either way, the items on the back-to-school list are necessary purchases.

This got me thinking about if lawyers had back-to-school shopping lists. Granted, we don’t technically take summers off, but we do lighten our schedules a little during those summer months just so we can enjoy the sunshine and take a much needed mid-day siesta.

Although we’re not returning to work after a long summer break, it’s good for lawyers to have a fresh restart at some point during the year. What better time than when the kids are headed back to school?

In light of this much-needed restart for the legal profession, I’ve compiled a shopping list for all lawyers for their return to the practice of law for another year. My recommendation is to purchase all of the items on this list, as they are not merely suggestions. 

1. Legal pads. The ones you have are scattered everywhere and have random notes on them. All of them are half empty. Or half full, depending on if you’re an optimist.

2. A new coffee mug. You’ve never washed the old one and it’s starting to smell.

3. A fake office plant. Who are you kidding? You can’t keep a real one alive. Don’t let another fern die in vain.

4. Pens. You have no idea where they go but you’ve somehow lost them all.

5. Highlighters. Maybe this time you’ll remember to put the cap back on so they’ll last longer. No you won’t.

6. A calming scented candle so you can calm down when the copier says it needs toner. It doesn’t. It never needs toner.

7. Slippers. You need to stop walking around the office in your old socks with holes in the toes. It’s gross. Get bunny slippers if at all possible.

8. A lumbar support pillow for your chair. You’re not getting any younger.

9. A larger computer monitor so it’s easier to read. See the second part of #8.

10. A new pillow for the couch in your office so you can “think about legal arguments” right around mid-afternoon.

11. A briefcase that actually opens on the first try.

12. Suits that don’t have coffee stains on them.

13. Batteries for the Dictaphone you accidentally leave recording when you leave for the night. That burns the batteries down pretty quickly.

14. Kleenex for the staff whenever there is an inevitable dispute and tears erupt.

15. Band-aids for all those papercuts. So many papercuts.

16. A stapler that (1) doesn’t jam and (2) actually has staples in it.

17. A paperweight so your stuff doesn’t blow everywhere when it’s 100 degrees in your office and you need a fan to blow directly on you.

18. An “I’m busy” sign to put on your closed office door. The sock on the door system currently in place is really starting to make people uncomfortable.

19. A coat rack so you can stop just throwing your coat on the back of a chair.

20. Air freshener. You never open the window and your office is getting a little ripe.

That’s at least a good start on what lawyers need to renew themselves for another year of practicing law. I encourage all lawyers to take it upon themselves to use this shopping list as an excuse to purchase items to recharge and reset for another year. I would also encourage all lawyers to add a bottle of bourbon to this list. It’s best served when it comes from the top left drawer of your desk.


Under Analysis is a nationally syndicated column of The Levison Group.  Lisa Henderson-Newlin is a shareholder of the law firm McAnany, Van Cleave, and Phillips.  She’s a contributing writer at and writes a humor website, Contact Lisa at or contact Under Analysis by email at

© 2014 Under Analysis L.L.C.


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