It’s typically not recommended (and sometimes not permitted) for law students to work during their first year of law school however, working during the second and third year can be advantageous. Working during law school can be a great resume booster, can help develop practical legal skills, and is an easy way to establish relationships in the legal field. Additionally, depending on the kind of job, it can put a little extra money in your pockets (what student doesn’t need more money?).
As you all know I am currently a full-time law student but for the past three semesters I’ve been lucky enough to work at local law firms during the semester. During my 2L year the small law firm I worked at the previous summer invited me back for the school year, and the midsize law firm I worked at this past summer invited me back for my 3L year. I typically work two days a week for a total of 10 hours but my schedule varies depending on the time of the semester. Below are a few tips that I hope will help anyone trying to balance work and school.
- Keep your work hours under 20. For law students I personally think 10 hours a week is a perfect amount of time, however some employers may demand more. Be honest with yourself and your employer about how many hours you can realistically work in one week as school should be your priority.
- Set a regular schedule. It’s best to set plan for the days of the week and the hours of the week ahead of time and stick to that schedule. Not only will this keep you accountable but it will be helpful for your employer to know when you’ll be working. Although things may come up during the semester and you may have to make changes, you should strive to keep your schedule as regular as possible.
- Take your work schedule into consideration when planning your class schedule. The first semester I worked I scheduled my classes without really thinking about my work schedule. I ended up running back and forth between between classes 4 days a week to be able to complete my 10 hours. This semester I planned it perfectly so I work on days when I don’t have classes, it’s made my life much easier.
- Monitor your work email outside of work hours. This one may seem obvious to some but I use to have a strict no work emails outside of work rule. Since I started working during the school year I realized that it’s almost impossible to avoid monitoring your email outside of work hours. Checking your work email on days you’re not working will ensure your employer is always able to get in contact with you and should prevent any last minute surprises. Also, nobody wants to show up to work everyday to 50+ unread emails, I’ve been there and it’s not pretty.
- Take a break prior to finals. This final tip is paramount. School should come first. In my experience 3-4 weeks is enough time to take off to sufficiently prepare for your finals however this number will depend on the kind of finals you have. It’s important that you inform your employer in advance of the finals period that you will be taking off so the proper accommodations can be made.
For those of you who have balanced work and school, or even multiple jobs at once, what things do you think helped you do it successfully??