October 25, 2017

How to Work During Law School

How to balance work and law school. How to make time for a job in law school. Can you work while going to law school? Can you have a job while going to law school. How to decide if you should work during law school. How to have a job as a law student. Work-life balance in law school. Working part time while you study law. Part time job, full time law student. | brazenandbrunette.com

This summer I wrote about how I balanced clerking with classes, but that was summer school and I only took 2 hours in Summer 1 and 5 hours in Summer 2 so I thought I'd do a more updated post on how I handle it with a full class schedule and some ideas on how to get it all done. Working while in law school does make it a little harder because you have less time to read and less time to yourself, but the money really does help! Even though I only work part time, I make enough that each paycheck will cover my groceries with a little bit of left over spending money which is really nice because I can skim off just a little bit of what I take out for student loans.  

Related: Summertime in Law School

I want to start out by saying that I'm only taking 13 hours of class this semester and although I worked 20 hours a week this summer, I've reduced it down to about 15 hours a week because that's literally all that I have time for. My class schedule just so happened to work out that I basically have class all morning and then usually work right after lunch. But I will say that about half of my work hours all happen on Fridays since I don't have Friday classes and if I wasn't able to work all day at least once a week I probably won't make any money. So anyways here's how I do it!

Read on the weekends

Quick refresher- My 1L year I basically broke my day down and the first 1/3 was class, the second 1/3 was my downtime, and the last 1/3 was my study time (read about my 1L schedule here). My 2L year I would get to school early and stay late and would read before, after, and in between classes and be done with everything every day by 4 (read about my 2L schedule here). So 3rd method of studying for my 3L year I guess! What I've figured out works best is to hole up in my study carrel on Sunday and knock out all of that week's readings because after class and work I just want to sit on my couch and do absolutely nothing. I should also throw out there that only 3 of my classes require reading so I don't have a ton of reading to do anyways so it is feasible for me to cram all my readings in on one day. And it's really really really easy to just skip the readings if you wait until after work to do them (I know all you 1Ls are flabbergasted at this concept but it's true by your 3rd year you actually can get by without reading, although this isn't recommended). 

I've avoided this method for the past two years because it's not exactly the easiest to read a full week's readings in one day and also because I know if I read it on Sunday I won't remember it as well by Thursday's class than if I'd just read it the day before. What has really helped with this is that I have scripts for 2 of my classes (What's a script? Find out here). Just because I have these does not mean that I don't take my own notes. Instead what I do is I take notes as I'm reading on Sunday and then review these and the script right before I go in to class to refresh my memory. In some ways I think this actually might be helping me more because now by the time I get to class, I've read, reviewed my notes, and reviewed the script so I've come across the main points 3 times before I even get to class. 

Dress up for class

I've always tried to look nice for class but now I don't let myself slip at all. Every single day I have my hair and makeup ready when I leave for class because I don't have time to do later. On Monday's and Wednesday's I'm done with class by noon so that gives me one hour to get home, eat, change my clothes, and get to work before 1. This might sound rushed but I live in a small city so I actually have time to chill and eat. However, on Tuesday's and Thursday's I get out of class at 2:40 and like to be at work by 3 so I can at least get 2 full hours in. That means that I have to go home and eat and change and then come back for my last class so that I can go straight to work from school. 

I could just wear my work clothes all day and not have so many trips home to change, but I'm always afraid of accidentally ruining my clothes before I even get to work.  People actually dress up a lot in law school because many have a competition, job interview, work, or if they're in a clinic even a real hearing to go to right after class.The weird thing about law school is that you have people in suits sitting by people in sweats! My favorite was this guy who was in one of my classes last year who had work right after class so he'd come in with a dress shirt and jacket on (although his shirt wasn't buttoned up all the way and he didn't wear a tie) with sweatpants and sandals. He'd be comfy for class and then change his pants and fix his shirt right after and then head off to work looking professional. You gotta do what you gotta do!

Have a flexible job

My boss is so amazing and I love my job! At the beginning of the school year, I was told to just give him my hours so he can know when to expect me. I started off slow the first few weeks and only worked about 10 hours because I thought I'd want to save half of Friday for review/studying. This turned out to be a mistake for me because I realized that I was just sleeping in really late so I decided that I should just go make some money  since I wasn't being productive anyways. Another wonderful thing about my job is that they don't really care when I'm here, just as long as I get what I need to get done.There's been a few times when class got out late or on a Friday I accidentally overslept and they've always been totally fine with a heads up text that I'm running behind. 

I also know from my friend who had this job before me that working from home is an option. I haven't taken advantage of this yet because for most of my projects it's just easier to have access to everything on my work computer or to run down the hall to my boss's office when I have a question. If you're considering getting a job on the side, I personally would rank flexibility over almost anything else when considering your options because you'll need it more than you realize.

Don't participate in extracurriculars

Another big thing that makes this possible is that I'm not really involved with anything else. I'm not on any Board of Barristers team and I'm not on a journal, so I don't have too many things to schedule my work around. I do lose some work hours to mediate for my clinic and it's really hard when the parties don't show up for their mediation and I just lost out on hours that I could be clocking and getting paid for while I was waiting for them to finally call and let me know that they decided not to mediate. My class for my clinic meets basically every other Thursday in the evening so I gave those dates to my boss and took off all those dates.

The only other thing that I"m involved in is Student Government Association but this works out because those meetings are at 6 and you have to dress business professional for them so I just get out of work and go straight there. For SGA I do have to go to Student Bar Association meetings but this also works out because they hold those during lunch so they never conflict. Seriously, the smartest thing law schools do is give everyone lunch at the same time so that things like this are possible!

let's be friends!


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