Your Guide to Law School Casebooks


Casebooks are scary in so many different ways. Not only can the actual substance of a casebook be overwhelming, but purchasing them can bring you a lot of stress, too. Should you rent or buy your casebooks? Should you buy the recommended books? 

Below are some of my tips for how to approach buying your casebooks. What do you prefer to do? Let me know below! 

Buying New

I bought all of my casebooks for 1L year because I wasn't sure how I was going to approach reading them, taking notes in them, and highlighting in them. I didn't want to get confused with someone else's highlights or notes while I was attempting to figure out law school, so buying new was my best option.

It's no secret that casebooks can be expensive. You could easily spend up to $250 for each casebook, and that unfortunately adds up quickly. However, there are ways you can try to alleviate some of those costs. Shop outside of your school's bookstore for a start. I buy my casebooks on Amazon, where the casebooks are typically less expensive than at my school's bookstore. Chegg is also a great place to look for buying used or renting. 

If you know you will be highlighting in a specific way for each of your classes, buying new casebooks may be the way for you to go. 

Buying Used

Buying used is a cheaper option to buying new casebooks, but it does come with its own issues. There's always a chance that you'll buy a book that has been heavily used and is hard to understand. Of course, there's also the chance that you'll get a book that was lightly used or wasn't even highlighted in at all. Either way, the price for used books is reflected in that chance. 

If you find that you're able to read past someone else's highlights and notes, buying used may be the way for you to go. I have friends who have bought used books and were fine with having someone else's notes and highlights in them. 


Renting your casebooks carries the same risk as buying used casebooks, as you may get a casebook that has already been heavily used. However, renting comes with other problems: you don't get to keep your rented casebooks and you can't highlight or write as much in rented casebooks. 

It's unfortunate that the cheapest option for buying your casebooks comes with many issues. Having to worry about whether you're marking your casebook up too much and scrambling to get your rented casebooks returned on time during finals are both stressful situations that come from renting. Furthermore, if you wanted to keep your casebooks for future reference in law school or in your legal career, you aren't able to do that because, of course, you have to return your rented casebooks. 

Required and Recommended Casebooks

Of course, you need to get any required books for your classes. These required books will likely be your casebooks, and that's where the bulk of your readings for class will come from. Recommended books are where most of the confusion comes from: do you actually need to get them? Will they be a waste of money? 

My best advice for determining whether you need to get any recommended books is to wait and see if you actually need the recommended books to help you understand the class materials better. If you think getting the recommended books will give you a better chance to do well in class, you should try to buy or rent it. 




  1. Thanks Rachel - this is so helpful. Are all books hard copy still in law school? Are any textbooks and casebooks digital? Or only digital?


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