What should I use to carry my stuff?
February 2, 2012 12:15 PM   Subscribe

What type of bag/case should I get for my law clerk job?

I have started working at a law firm while still taking classes this semester and will continue working at the same firm full time this summer. I need some sort of bag or case to carry my stuff in (documents, pens, etc.).

The firm is pretty conservative and I wear a suit everyday. I am pretty old fashioned and like the idea of a classic brief case, but am afraid I will come off douchey and pretentious. I also don't love the idea of carrying around a nylon shoulder bag (too boring, cheap looking).

Please provide some options for classic, yet unpretentious professional luggage! I am willing to spend a little money, but I don't want to break the bank.
posted by arveale to Work & Money (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am a senior associate at a conservative law firm, and I carry a jack spade nylon shoulder bag. I really don't think anyone gives a shit.

But if you want a classic leather briefcase that will last your entire life (and why would you want any less?), go to Saddleback Leather. Really amazing stuff.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:24 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

If a suit is what you're supposed to wear, a briefcase is not pretentious or douchey. When I worked as a summer associate in NYC, where we also wore suits, I used a vintage (read: dad's) briefcase. The nice Coach briefcase my extended family chipped in for for my graduation present is currently going unused. Once you're established, people don't care so much.
posted by *s at 12:27 PM on February 2, 2012

I would split the difference and get a leather shoulder bag. A quick look at Cole Haan has a few examples of what I had in mind: messenger style and newspaper style.
posted by politikitty at 12:28 PM on February 2, 2012

Whatever you get you should also get one of those light-weight folding wheelie deals that you can use to roll banker's boxes of documents around with you.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:36 PM on February 2, 2012

I am a senior associate at a conservative law firm, and I carry a jack spade nylon shoulder bag. I really don't think anyone gives a shit.

nthing this.

If you want a briefcase, get one. I used it when I was a law clerk and we were suited all the time.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:42 PM on February 2, 2012

those light-weight folding wheelie deals that you can use to roll banker's boxes of documents around with you.

In my experience, you'll only need it only if you're taking documents to a closing or a trial. In those circumstances, law firms will have common ones that you can borrow.
posted by joyceanmachine at 12:44 PM on February 2, 2012

I'm a junior associate at a business casual large firm - I wouldn't go for the classic brief case. I would think an attorney looked kind of douchey carrying one on a day-to-day basis, and that would go double for a law clerk. That said, it does sound like your firm is more conservative.

Regardless, a classic briefcase just isn't practical for what you'll need on a daily basis, in all likelihood. When you need to bring stuff home/to court/to a client's office, you'll probably need to bring a lot of it. Get a nice-looking, high capacity nylon bag that will fit your laptop and a bunch of files so that you're not stuck carrying around a briefcase and a bunch of other bags, which imho, looks silly.

The firm should provide a folding wheelie deal when you need it, no need to buy one.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 12:50 PM on February 2, 2012

Sorry, I see that you asked for some options, here are a few:




I should note that now that I'm actually perusing men's bag options, I see that my conception of briefcase was mistakenly limited to the old square-sided leather suitcase-esque ones. If you're talking about one more like some of the ones I've linked above, I think that would be totally fine.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 12:57 PM on February 2, 2012

I'm a senior associate at an ostensibly business casual large firm (many partners and some associates regularly wear suits, though), and a classic hard-sided briefcase would be a little weird. A soft-sided leather case or shoulder bag would be perfectly fine, and a lot of lawyers use something nylon-ish like a Tom Bihn bag or whatever. Many many lawyers use the firm-issued crappy ballistic nylon rolling bag our craptastic laptops come with.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:58 PM on February 2, 2012

I wouldn't feel at all out of place using something like this, for example.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:00 PM on February 2, 2012

I rarely have to carry any files around (the joys of being in-house, strict 9-5), but I find a shoulder bag much better than carrying a briefcase around. Hands-free counts for a lot, especially if you're lugging around any weight. I doubt anyone will much care what it looks like, so long as it doesn't look cheapish.

Just make sure it can fit legal-size papers.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:04 PM on February 2, 2012

Long time IANYL here, and I spend my time in formal dress up legal environments. Very proud to carry my nice light Tom Bihn bag when I'm going to and fro.
posted by bearwife at 1:14 PM on February 2, 2012

I don't think a nylon messenger bag would be noticed, one way or another. So many lawyers schlep around laptops in nylon bags, anyway. I like the shoulder bags much better than briefcases. I think most lawyers wouldn't think a law clerk with a briefcase was really out-of-place, although I personally would question the need for a law clerk to be carrying a lot of things back-and-forth. Of course, if a female law clerk was carrying around a Burberry purse that might be noticed in a bad way, too.

When I was a junior associate, a partner once called his briefcase his "conscience bag". He meant that at the end of the day, his conscience required him to throw a bunch of files in his bag to take home, where he might or might not look at them. There were some weekends when I genuinely needed to lug home a large volume of paper, but on those weekends I grabbed a wheeled trial bag. Most nights or weekends, I had the laptop and if necessary, a very small stack of documents. Nothing huge.

I had an old Dell laptop bag (firm-issued) which fit both the laptop and in an expandable side compartment, a legal-sized accordion file. That was a nice (albeit bulky) bag. I have since downsized to a fairly slim laptop bag, but that combines with me carrying around digital copies of many things I would have been carrying around in paper form, ten years ago.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 1:14 PM on February 2, 2012

don't get a briefcase unless you are over the age of 65. otherwise, as long as your bag doesn't say 'mountain dew' on the side you're probably fine.
posted by facetious at 2:06 PM on February 2, 2012

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