Tablet or Laptop for Law School: Making the Right Choice

Laptop and tablet displayed side by side for comparision
Choose the right device to get the best value for your money.

As you embark on your journey through law school, one of the critical decisions you’ll face is choosing the right device to accompany you in your studies. While traditional pen and paper have served students for generations, technology has opened up new possibilities with the advent of tablets and laptops.

We will explore the advantages of both tablets and laptops for law school students, discussing their unique features and how they cater to the needs of aspiring lawyers. By the end, you’ll have a clearer understanding of which device is the best fit for your law school experience.

Understanding the Needs of Law School Students

Before delving into the specific benefits of tablets and laptops, let’s first examine the essential requirements of law school students. Being able to identify your specific needs will aid in making a well-informed decision regarding your device of choice.

The Importance of Portability

Law students lead busy lives, shuttling between lectures, study groups, and the library. Portability is a significant factor to consider as you’ll want a device that can be easily carried around without causing strain or inconvenience.

Essential Software and Hardware Requirements

Law school demands access to specific software and hardware for legal research, writing, and document management. Your chosen device must be capable of handling these requirements effectively.

Considering Note-taking Options

Note-taking is an integral part of law school, and having a device that supports your preferred method of note-taking is essential. Whether you prefer typing, handwriting, or a combination of both, your device should accommodate your chosen approach.

The Advantages of Tablets for Law School

Tablets have gained popularity for their versatility and ease of use. When it comes to law school, they offer several unique advantages that cater to the needs of students:

Lightweight and Portable

Tablets are notably lighter than most laptops, making them ideal for carrying around campus throughout the day. Their slim design and ease of handling ensure that you won’t be burdened with heavy bags.

Versatility and Touchscreen Functionality

One of the standout features of tablets is their touchscreen capability. This makes navigation and interaction with the device more intuitive, providing a more natural writing experience when using a stylus.

Digital Note-taking and Organization

Tablets allow you to take digital notes directly on the screen, mimicking the feel of traditional pen and paper. Additionally, note-taking apps offer organizational features that help you keep your notes well-structured and easily accessible.

Annotating and Highlighting

For legal research and case analysis, the ability to annotate and highlight digital documents is invaluable. Tablets enable precise and straightforward annotation, helping you stay organized and focused during your study sessions.

Access to E-books and Legal Databases

Many law schools are transitioning to digital resources, including e-books and online legal databases. Tablets provide convenient access to these resources, allowing you to carry an entire library in your bag.

Long Battery Life

Tablet battery life has significantly improved over the years, with many devices lasting for a full day of usage. This ensures that you won’t be caught without power during important lectures or study sessions.

The Benefits of Laptops for Law School

While tablets offer portability and versatility, laptops bring their own set of advantages to the table. For law school students, laptops provide the following benefits:

Robust Performance

Laptops, especially those equipped with powerful processors and ample RAM, offer excellent performance for multitasking and handling resource-intensive legal software.

Full Keyboard for Efficient Typing

Law students often need to type lengthy papers and assignments. A full-size keyboard on a laptop allows for comfortable and efficient typing, reducing the likelihood of typos and increasing productivity.

Multitasking Capabilities

Laptops support seamless multitasking, allowing you to have multiple applications and windows open simultaneously. This feature is especially useful when conducting legal research or working on complex assignments.

Software Compatibility

Certain legal software and applications may have better compatibility with traditional laptop operating systems. If your law school curriculum requires specific software, a laptop may be the more suitable choice.

Larger Screen Size

Laptops typically come with larger screens compared to tablets, providing a more expansive view of documents, research materials, and legal cases.

File Management and Storage

Laptops offer ample storage space, making it convenient to store and manage your documents, research materials, and assignments without relying heavily on cloud services.

Making the Decision: Tablet or Laptop?

Now that we’ve explored the advantages of both tablets and laptops for law school, it’s time to weigh the factors that will influence your decision:

Consider Your Learning Style and Preferences

Reflect on your preferred learning style and note-taking method. Are you more comfortable typing or handwriting? Do you prefer a touchscreen interface for navigation?

Law School Curriculum and Software Requirements

Review your law school curriculum and identify any specific software requirements. Ensure that the device you choose can run the necessary legal applications effectively.

Budgetary Considerations

While tablets and laptops come in various price ranges, consider your budget and the features you prioritize most. Strike a balance between affordability and functionality.

Accessories and Additional Features

Take into account the availability of accessories, such as styluses or keyboard attachments, that enhance the functionality of your chosen device.

Longevity and Future Use

Consider the longevity of your device and whether it will serve you beyond law school. Choose a device that aligns with your future needs and career aspirations.

Transitioning from Paper to Digital: Tips and Tricks

Embracing technology in law school may require an adjustment period, especially if you’ve been accustomed to traditional pen and paper. To ease the transition, consider the following tips:

Embrace Digital Note-taking Apps

Explore various note-taking apps and find one that suits your preferences. Experiment with different features, such as handwriting recognition and organization tools.

Mastering Digital Highlighting and Annotation

Practice annotating and highlighting digital documents to improve efficiency and comprehension. Experiment with different color-coding techniques to keep your annotations organized.

Organize Your Digital Files Effectively

Create folders and subfolders on your device to organize your digital notes, assignments, and research materials. This will help you access specific information quickly.

Syncing and Backing Up Your Data

Use cloud services or external storage to sync and back up your data regularly. This ensures that your important documents are safe and accessible from any device.

Utilizing Productivity Tools

Explore productivity apps and tools that can help you stay organized, manage your time effectively, and boost your overall productivity.

Best Tablets for Law School

Now that you have a better understanding of the advantages of tablets for law school, let’s explore some of the best options available on the market:

1. Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2022)best tablet for law school

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The iPad Pro 12.9 (2022) is Apple’s top-of-the-line tablet as of 2023, featuring a powerful M2 chipset that gives it laptop-level performance. While some may argue that the M1 from the previous generation is more than enough for most tablet activities, the M2 ensures that this device is future-proof.

Apart from the M2, the iPad Pro 12.9 (2022) shares many similarities with its predecessor, the iPad Pro 12.9 (2021), such as its large 12.9-inch, 120Hz display that utilizes mini-LED technology for superior picture quality compared to smaller iPads. Despite packing all this tech, the tablet is surprisingly slim and lightweight.

Additionally, it features Face ID, capable cameras, and supports accessories like Apple’s Magic Keyboard and the Apple Pencil 2, which boasts hover-detection that makes it perfect for writing and drawing.

As expected, the iPad Pro 12.9 (2022) comes with a hefty price tag, nevertheless, for those who want a tablet with unbeatable performance, this is the device to go for.


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2. Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) 

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The Apple iPad Pro 2021 is stacked with so much power. Packed with Apple’s powerful M1 chipset and 8GB of RAM, the iPad Pro blazes through apps, browser tabs and videos without any sign of slowdown. 

You can opt for the model with 16GB of RAM. For annotating PDFs, the 8GB RAM variant is pretty OK.

But before you get swept up by all that power, let’s not forget that beautiful new Liquid Retina XDR mini-LED display. The 2021 iPad Pro’s gorgeous display is on the level of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus. Pictures look more intense, expressive and realistic.

It offers a ton of storage. Available internal storage includes 128GB, 256 GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB.

Annotating PDFs with the Apple Pencil 2 is a pure joy.

Apple isn’t skimping on the battery with the iPad Pro; the 40.88 Wh cell offers excellent endurance. Sure, the iPad Pro 2021 12.9-inch is still a bit out of range for some people, price-wise. However, it gives a lot.

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3. Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus

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The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus’ predecessor, the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus was (heck, still is!) an excellent tablet. However, the Tab S8 Plus is slightly a cut above it and, of course, the rest (Android tablets, that is) out there.

Its internals are nothing to scoff at – Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, more than enough RAM (8GB or 12GB), 128GB or 256GB of storage, and Android 12 operating system.

Performance is on par with what the 2021 iPad Pro 12.9-inch boasts. The sheer amount of power makes the Tab S8 Plus an appealing upgrade.

Samsung nailed it again with the Galaxy Tab S8 Plus’ display. It does keep the same 12.4-inch Super AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate from the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus, which is not necessarily a bad thing. And it’s bright enough to make reading and watching videos a pure joy.

If you’ve been an iOS loyalist for years, it’s worth taking a look to see what else is out there. This is a great piece of hardware that anyone should be proud to carry around. 

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4. Apple iPad Air (2022)     Tablet or Laptop for Law School

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The Apple iPad Air is for anyone who needs an iPad Pro-like performance from a portable tablet at a fraction of the price. It is a fit for casual users and creators alike.

Its 10.9-inch Liquid Retina multi-touch display looks fine, especially in its color reproduction. You can use the Air comfortably in either portrait or landscape orientations.

The best part of the 2022 iPad Air, however, is its performance. It is fast thanks to the Apple M1 chipset tucked inside it. This tablet delivers at all times. You can watch videos, play games, and read on the Air 2022 with zero performance lag.

It’s worth noting, as well, that the 2022 iPad Air ships with the outstanding Apple Pencil 2 which attaches magnetically and charges wirelessly. This makes the Air 2022 an ideal pick for writing, drawing, and taking notes without a hitch.

This is the best tablet for just about everyone. Its performance and price tag make it easy to pull the trigger on a purchase order. Highly recommended.

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5. Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus 

Tablet or Laptop for Law School

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The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus is larger than the Tab S9 in size and maintains a premium build quality, appealing to anyone seeking a more substantial device. It strikes a balance between portability and a spacious display.

The Tab S9 Plus features a stunning dynamic AMOLED display, praised for its sharpness and finely detailed images. It offers a superb visual experience with a variable refresh rate of 60-120Hz, adapting to different content types.

Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy SoC, the Tab S9 Plus delivers impressive performance, nearly matching the Apple iPad Pro. It can handle demanding tasks and multitasking efficiently.

When it comes to storage options, you have the flexibility to choose from storage options up to 512GB, ensuring ample space for apps, media, and files.

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6. Samsung Galaxy Tab S8

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The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 is juiced up with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, 12GB of RAM, 256GB of storage.

Performing like a pricier machine without skimping on build quality or features, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 8 delivers excellent value.

Like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra and Tab S8 Plus, one of the main appeals of the Tab S8 is its performance. In fact, the speedy performance of the Galaxy Tab S8 firmly shoves it up the class ladder.

The Tab S8’s 11-inch thin-film transistor display is impressive.

At 11 inches and 1.1 pounds, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 is a lightweight and easy travel companion. The tablet comes in three colour options – Graphite, Silver or Pink Gold.


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7. Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 

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The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 is a compact and affordable tablet that offers impressive performance and an array of features.

Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, the Galaxy Tab S9 delivers top-tier performance and responsiveness, ensuring smooth multitasking and efficient handling of tasks and apps.

The Galaxy Tab S9 offers options for 8GB or 12GB of RAM, catering to various usage needs. Storage capacities include 128GB and 512GB, providing ample space for your digital content and applications.

Elsewhere, Samsung includes its S Pen stylus, enhancing precision input and productivity capabilities. This feature is particularly useful for creative tasks and note-taking.

The Galaxy Tab S9 boasts an 11″ AMOLED display, a significant upgrade from the previous LCD screen. This results in enhanced visuals, vibrant colors, and an immersive viewing experience.

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Best Laptops for Law School

For students who prioritize robust performance and a traditional typing experience, laptops are the way to go. Here are some of the best laptops for law school:

1. Apple MacBook Air 15-inch (M2, 2023)

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The 15-inch Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2023) is a new addition to Apple’s laptop lineup, offering a larger screen size compared to its 13-inch counterpart. Reviews highlight both positive and negative aspects of this model.

One of the key positives of the MacBook Air 15-inch is its stunning design and slimline form factor. It features a big screen, which provides a more immersive viewing experience. The laptop also boasts a brilliant display and a speaker setup that is considered one of the best among laptops.

However, the increase in screen size comes with a trade-off. The MacBook Air 15-inch is less portable compared to the  2022, 13-inch model with M2 chip, which has been one of the key selling points of the Air line. Despite the larger size, the internal specifications remain the same as the 13-inch model.

The 15-inch MacBook Air (M2, 2023) is an attractive option for those seeking a larger MacBook without the need for the higher performance of the MacBook Pro 16-inch. A combination of performance, battery life, and a gorgeous display in a sleek and elegant chassis, makes it a strong contender in the 15-inch laptop market. We recommend the MacBook Air (M2, 2023) as one of the best laptops for law school.

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2. Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (M2, 2022

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If you’re already invested in the Apple ecosystem, the MacBook Pro is one of the best options on the market. The MacBook Air M2 is one of Apple’s latest and greatest laptops, offering top-notch performance and an attractive redesign that boasts several practical benefits.

Unlike its predecessor, the M2 Air features a more uniform chassis that is thinner than ever before, measuring just 11.3 millimeters thick at the edges and weighing only 2.7 pounds. This makes it incredibly easy to carry around, with the laptop barely noticeable in a backpack.

In addition, the M2 Air features a larger 13.6-inch display with a thin, seamless bezel that provides plenty of color and detail. The Magic Keyboard is also back, complete with full-sized function keys, and the revamped MagSafe charger makes it easy to attach and detach the charging cable with a quick magnetic snap.

The M2 Air is also equipped with a powerful new Apple M2 processor, making it one of the fastest laptops on the market. It can easily handle heavy multitasking workloads and even light gaming, though more intensive games may cause the laptop to heat up. Battery life is impressive, lasting up to 18 hours on a single charge for day-to-day use.

The biggest downside to the M2 Air is its price, however, if you’re willing to pay for a larger display, better webcam, sleeker design, and useful MagSafe charger, the M2 Air is the best laptop money can buy. If you’re on a budget, the M1 Air remains a great option.

You’ll be hard-pressed to be disappointed with the Apple MacBook Air with M2’s performance. The Apple MacBook Air with M2 chip is highly recommended and it remains one of the best laptops for law school.

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3. Dell XPS 15 (2022)

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The Dell XPS 15 (2022) is a 15-inch laptop that strikes the perfect balance between portability and screen size, making it an excellent choice for people who find 13-inch laptops too small and 16 or 17-inch laptops too cumbersome. The laptop retains the classic XPS look, complete with brushed aluminum, carbon fiber palm rests, and a slim design. The laptop is incredibly lightweight and easy to carry around, making it an excellent option for people who travel frequently.

Under the hood, the Dell XPS 15 (2022) is powered by Intel Alder Lake processors and faster RAM, making it an excellent performer for everyday tasks. It features an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Mobile graphics, providing excellent results during everyday use.

Battery life on the Dell XPS 15 is impressive, with the laptop easily lasting a full workday on a single charge.

The Dell XPS 15 (2022) is an attractive and comfortable laptop to use, with a larger screen and keyboard, making it a great option for professionals who spend long hours working on their laptops. Overall, the Dell XPS 15 (2022) is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a powerful and portable 15-inch laptop for law school.


  • Outstanding performance
  • Excellent design
  • Good keyboard
  • Impressive 3.5K OLED display


  • Webcam could be improved

Dell XPS 15 OLED (2022) Key Specifications

Display: 15.6-inch 3.5K display, 3456 x 2160 pixels
CPU: 12th Gen Intel Core i5 – i7
GPU: Intel UHD Graphics – NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
RAM: 8GB – 64GB DDR5
Storage:  256GB – 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe

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4. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (9th Gen)

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The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is the latest update to one of the most sought-after business laptops available today, and it proves why it is a highly desirable machine. If you are in need of exceptional performance on-the-go in a sleek and portable package, regardless of cost, the X1 Carbon is the ideal choice.

Lenovo has refined the design of the X1 Carbon Gen 9 even further, building upon the phenomenal features of its predecessors. The latest model is equipped with 11th-gen Intel processors and Intel Evo-certification, ensuring exceptional performance, battery life, startup time, and security features that are associated with Evo-certification.

Despite the upgrades, the X1 Carbon Gen 9 retains all the impressive features that have made the X1 Carbon line so popular. The carbon fiber chassis remains lightweight and slim, and the keyboard is outstanding. It also boasts top-notch security features, top-firing speakers, and enough ports to make many of the best Ultrabooks with their limited USB Type-C ports look inadequate.

Given its impressive specs, the X1 Carbon Gen 9 remains one of the best laptops for law school.

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5. Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

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Apple has made the new MacBook Air a lot better than previous models with improved internals, storage, and keyboard. The laptop touts a decent 2560 x 1600-pixel Retina display.

Made of aluminum and powered by macOS Catalina operating system and Apple’s M1 chipset, the 2020 MacBook Air can handle typical day-to-day computing tasks effortlessly.

With the 2020 MacBook Air, you get up 16GB of RAM. The entry-level configuration ships with 8GB of RAM, 256GB storage, Apple’s M1 chip, and an 8-core GPU.

In terms of weight, the MacBook Air is pretty much lightweight. No problems hauling the MacBook Air (11.9 x 8.36 x 0.63 inches, 2.8 pounds) in the backpack going to and from school or work.

Gold, Silver, and Space Gray are the three beautiful colour versions of the MacBook Air. Your choice comes down to personal preference.

The laptop boasts two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports on the left and a headphone jack on the right. How about the microSD card reader? Well, there isn’t one really.

We’d be lying if we said you’d be falling off your chair with excitement at the MacBook Air’s battery life. However, its battery life is just OK. In fact its battery life is a notable improvement over previous models. You should get at least 9 hours of productive work out of the laptop when it is not plugged in.

There’s no getting around the fact that the new MacBook Air still remains an excellent laptop given its decent specs.

So, if you’re looking for an affordable MacBook for law school, then buy the Apple MacBook Air. It is one of the best laptops for law school.

The Final Verdict: Choosing Your Law School Companion

As you weigh the advantages of tablets and laptops for law school, consider your specific needs, preferences, and budget. Both devices offer unique benefits, and the ideal choice depends on your individual learning style and curriculum requirements. Regardless of your decision, embracing technology and incorporating best practices in your writing will enhance your law school experience and set you on the path to success.