5 tips for working during school

Law School Pens, Planner, Notes

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.  
  5. 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??

should you take a gap year before grad school

Kate Spade Notebook, Planner and Calendar

Kate Spade Notebook, Planner and Calendar

One thing that I’m commonly asked by friends and acquaintances considering law school is if their time before law school would be best spent perusing a graduate degree or working.

I did both. During my final year of undergrad I was debating between a career in academia or a career in the legal field so I took both the LSAT and the GRE. I did well on both test and was honestly a little more interested in going to law school but because of the state of the legal market at the time I  decided to pursue a graduate degree (I didn’t know it at the time but it was the best decision I could have made for myself).

I pursued an M.A. (via a two year program that I completed in one year) and upon graduation, when I realized I was still interested in going to law school I worked for one year as a legal administrative assistant.

I thought a masters program would prepare me for dealing with the work load in law school, however they’re very different. I could get away with not doing the reading in in my masters program (and often did), in law school I wouldn’t even dare. A masters program also has the potential to be super expensive…and more importantly more expensive than its worth. At the end of the day, I don’t know if a masters program just for the sake of filling up a gap year is worth it.

Although it was a little difficult landing a job in the legal field, the time I spent working as a legal administrative assistant was a better use of my time. I was able see first hand what what a job in the legal field entails and I made contacts in the legal field. Additionally, I had experiences that I could talk about in my interviews and admissions essays.

When it comes down to it, my time spent working was the most productive use of my time before law school and I’m glad I took the opportunity to make sure law was really what I wanted to do.

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so I took a little blogging break…

Westin LaQuinta Marbella Spain Pool

Marbella Spain Hotel

Hi guys! It’s been a while but I’m back!

I had to take a step back and reflect on what I wanted my blog to reflect and more importantly what I wanted to get out of blogging. I’ve revamped my site, changed the name, changed my direction a little, and I’m really excited for this fresh start!

Westin LaQuinta Marbella Spain Staircase

Westin LaQuinta Marbella Spain Pool

While I was gone I got a job, traveled a bit,had my law review note published (!!!),  worked a lot, read even more, completed my 1L year, and I got engaged! (I probably should have led with this right? lol).

Over the next year I plan to write about the things that are going on in my life, some law related and some not (because lets be real when I’m not at the firm or my law school I don’t really want to think about either). I hope you guys will be along for the ride!

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