Of Murse and Men: A Look at the Saddleback Classic Briefcase for Trial Lawyers

This is a trial bag for men.

This is a trial bag for men.

Admit it. You’ve seen the Saddleback Classic Leather Briefcase and thought to yourself “That is the coolest briefcase ever.” You want it, but you don’t know if you should shell out $600+ for it.

Well, I finally bit the bullet and got one a few months ago. Here are my musings, followed by the first YouTube video I’ve ever done for Philly Law Blog.

Why Saddleback: I am vicious on everything I own, Suits, ties, electronics, you name it. Anything I own I will destroy. Briefcases and bags in particular. I found myself buying a new bag every year because my old one was beat up so badly that it looked terrible. I wanted a bag that would age well, and that I could beat up without it looking stupid. I also wanted a bag big enough to carry my lawyer stuff if need be, like client files, etc. I was sick of buying new bags, because they are like $70 a piece and don’t look good after six months.

And let’s be honest – Saddleback bags look awesome. They combine rugged durability and style without even trying.

Selecting a Size: The medium bag is too small for a trial lawyer, in my opinion. I initially ordered the medium since I am about the height of an average hobbit. But when I received it, I was a bit disappointed. The proportions seemed off, and it didn’t look like the big rugged bag of awesome I was expecting. My wife remarked “That’s a lot going on for a small bag…”

Then, while out at dinner, my buddy looked at me and said “Dude… nice murse.”

At that point, I knew the medium was going back.

There is also a big practical problem with the medium briefcase for trial lawyers – it’s not big enough to fit a legal sized redwell. It’s barely big enough to hold my 13” MacBook Pro, and  could not hold my Toshiba Satellite.  I ended up returning the medium bag and going with a large. Here is a picture of the two bags side by side:

two bags

On the left is a medium classic briefcase. On the right is a large classic briefcase.

If you want something smaller, I would implore you to go with the thin briefcase or perhaps a satchel. Leo has the satchel in chestnut and it looks great. He carries around a lot less stuff than I do:

SaddlebackBags-640x640

My coffee brown classic briefcase compared to Leo’s chestnut satchel.

Credit: A post Leo made on Lawyersit about the importance of durables.

Color: I went with dark coffee brown. Reason? It’s fully waterproofed, and I want a bag that I’m not just going to use for lawyer stuff, but that I can also use when I go hiking or travel. Leo’s chestnut bag looks great, though. I’m not a fan of black or light tan bags. Your mileage may vary.

Practicality:

The good news – it fits under your seat on an airplane. I’ve taken mine on the plane without any issues, and kept it under my seat. I’ve used it as a travel bag, too. It fits just about anything you need, but it’s practical enough to be an everyday carry bag.

The bad news – it’s a bit heavy, especially if you’re a wussy. When I have it loaded up with client files, a laptop, an iPad, a bottle of liquor, and other stuff, yeah, it’s heavy. It’s a also a bit cumbersome. You won’t be able to wear it at your side in tight spaces like the aisle of an airplane.

Random:

My bag initially came with screw on clasps that held the shoulder strap on. They came undone at the weirdest times. It was a problem because I fill this bag to the brim, and if I drop it, there is a good chance it will take my Macbook Pro with it.

Saddleback was awesome about replacing the screw clasps with dogleash clasps. They sent me a self addressed stamped envelope. I mailed the strap back, they put on new clasps, and now I have a shoulder strap that won’t come off.

Bottom line:

If you want a big bag, this is perfect. It’s beautiful, it ages well, and it’s big enough to carry all your lawyer stuff while still being practical. If you want a lighter carry but love the idea of Saddleback, consider getting a satchel or thin briefcase.

Personally, I love this thing. It’s one of the best things I own.

And now for the video!

In advance… I’m sorry for my Philly accent. It sounds terrible. I know. Shut up.

Update: My first video was terrible. Let’s try this again.

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9 Responses to Of Murse and Men: A Look at the Saddleback Classic Briefcase for Trial Lawyers

  1. First of all, I laughed when I saw that you wrote a blog on the Saddleback Briefcase (remembering the “man purse” jokes on Twitter when you were researching the bags). Interestingly enough, I found myself this morning at a big box store looking for a quick solution to replace a bag for a laptop I lug back-and-forth from the office. In my mind, I was thinking “laptop, a few files, and a book or so.” Then I watched the review and your mention of the Redweld file pockets made me gasp because I realized that this is a huge consideration that slipped my mind. I wasn’t even thinking Redweld.

  2. Thanks for a review.
    Vertical video is pure evil though.

  3. Matt says:

    Funny, I just put my chestnut saddleback up on eBay. One, I recently received a nice briefcase from a family member and I feel awkward not using it. And two, the Saddleback (large) is a little heavy for my puny hands.

    I notice on your Saddleback, there’s now a branded “Saddleback Leather” on the outside front of the briefcase, mine is only two years older but doesn’t contain this mark on the outside, but instead has it under the flap/across front of the bag.

  4. JJ says:

    J/L,

    Don’t most attorneys “roll” with a legal sized rolling suitcase nowadays? 20 lbs sounds like a pain (in the shoulder).

    -JJ

    • Depends. Most hearings don’t require you to bring much – just a yellow pad and perhaps a few copies of a motion. My everyday carry is just my iPad, a yellow pad, some beef jerky, and copies of whatever I’m doing. Maybe a book that I’m reading.

      For a trial, or a major oral argument, I would probably bring both my Saddleback bag and my rolling trial bag. You can actually attach the Saddleback bag to the trial bag.

      But the trial bag is extremely impractical for everyday use.

  5. As a lawyer and one who is using CC license himself, you should know better than to use my CC BY -licensed Flickr image without proper attribute. But I forgive you as we both obviously have good taste in bags! :)

    Saddleback Leather briefcase

  6. Ultimate trial bag? The LONG Glazer Travel bag (22″ x 14″ x 8″). Big enough for several redwelds AND the rules of evidence AND the rules of court AND a stapler and clips and marker pens and it’s still carryable…until you get to be 63-64 y/o and are too old for this sh**. At $1495 now (I swear I paid a lot less in 2003…probably a grand) but I’ve never regretted it. But I use a Saddleback large bag for everyday band and forth to the office, court and clinic. I’m a trial lawyer as well as a psychotherapist now.

  7. John Harding says:

    Jordan:

    Serious question. Do the buckles prove a nuisance when you are in court trying to move around, put stuff in, get stuff out, etc? I appreciate the utility of the hardcore construction, but seems the flap and straps might actually be a detriment in the heat of battle? Don’t want to lay down the big bucks for a bag that I will end up putting in the closet.

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