Considering Working During Law School? Read This.
Law school can be a heavy investment of both time and money. Many may consider working a job in between classes to help ease the costs of a law degree.
Coleen Mensa, a contributor for The Guardian and law school graduate, recently discussed several points to consider if you’re contemplating working during law school.
“Completing your qualifications at the same time as earning a living sounds ideal, but is it doable?” Mensa writes. “Having a job through law school worked for me but it was by no means easy. The truth is law school is extremely demanding and requires a lot of focus.”
Strive For Flexible
Law school requires a lot of time. And Mensa says students should opt for jobs that offer some sort of flexibility.
“The more, the better,” she writes. “Will you be able to leave work on time to get to law school? Will they respect your commitment to studying and not ask you to work late and miss classes? My workplace understood the demands of law school and my manager was aware that working overtime was not an option for me.”
Marcia Pennington Shannon is the assistant dean of the office of career strategy at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. In an interview with ABA For Law Students, Shannon says, law students should wait at least a year before taking a job.
“I think you first need to just get used to being in law school,” Shannon tells ABA For Law Students. “There’s nothing like it.”
The Need For Routine
Mensa says a routine is critical when it comes to balancing work and school.
“Having a routine ensures that you can find balance in your schedule,” she writes. “There is no sugar-coating the difficulties that came with juggling my studies and work. As my shifts did not change, I quickly got into the routine of working in the morning, attending law school and using the evenings to prepare for the next class.”
Type Of Work
It’s best, experts say, if you can get work that’s related to what you’re studying.
“With tuition so high, if you can find a job that pays and gives you the kind of experience you want, that’s the sweet spot,” Shannon tells ABA For Law Students.
If you can’t land a legal related job while in school, Mensa says, you should look for a job with transferable skills.
“For instance, thanks to a job I had as a legal price controller I could demonstrate analytical and communication skills, which was helpful for my training contract applications,” she writes.
Despite making a check and gaining useful skills, getting a job during law school can even be a stress reliever.
Eli Medina, a second-year full-time student at the Louisiana State University, Paul M. Hebert Law Center, says his job as a ride-share driver helped him to relieve the stress of law school.
“For some people like me, driving is relaxing,” Medina tells ABA For Law Students. “You get to talk to people who aren’t in law school—it’s great. You’ll learn that throughout law school it’s important to take breaks, and those breaks need to be meaningful. I encourage it, with permission from your law school.”