Working During Law School

Pros and Cons Of Working During Law School

Many students wonder if they should work part or full time while they are attending law school.  In this post, we discuss the pros and cons of working during law school!

Pros and Cons Of Working During Law School

Working Full Time

While it is not recommended that you work full time if you are attending law school full time, full-time work may be unavoidable for some people.  If you are working full-time while in law school, you are not alone!  Many people work full time and attend law school in the evenings.  Many law schools have programs specifically tailored to students who are working full time while in school.

If you have to work full time, you should only attend school part-time.  You may think that its only three years and you can power through it. You are much more likely to burn out if you work 40 (or more) hours per week while also handling a full load of courses.

Working During 1L Year

The American Bar Association (ABA) previously prohibited full-time first-year law students from working more than 20 hours per week.  While this rule has since been abolished, many law schools have adopted similar policies that are still in place.  If you are considering working during your first year of law school, be sure to check your school’s policy before accepting a position!

If you have the ability to take a year off work, your 1L year of law school is the time to do it.  Law school is very demanding and is very different from undergrad.  If you have the ability to devote all of your attention to your studies, it often pays off!  Law school is simply a lot of work.  It is easy to become overwhelmed even when not working, so you should consider how you want to allocate your time and prioritize what is important to you.

Working Part-time During 2L and 3L Year

Although it is beneficial to focus on your studies in your first year of law school, it might actually be advantageous to work during your 2L and/or 3L years of law school.  Some of the advantages to taking a part-time job include:

  • Practical experience – you will gain hands-on, real world experience at a position such as a law clerk at a firm that you simply don’t get by attending classes. Working at a firm, you will get a better idea of what it is like to have clients, what billable hours are, and the types of day-to-day tasks that lawyers  face.
  • Start networking – finding a job after law school can often be about who you know. Even if you are not connected within the legal community prior to starting law school, taking a part-time job is a great way to get your foot in the door and start meeting lawyers!
  • Get a job – Part-time law firm positions during law school could potentially turn into full-time positions after graduation! Again, a part-time position is a great way to get your foot in the door.  Not only will the employer get to know you and see if you are a good fit for the firm, but you also have a chance to explore whether that firm is a good fit for you!

Forgoing a Job in Lieu of Other Experiences

On the other hand, many students choose not to work at all during law school and, instead, focus on school and other activities that they won’t otherwise be able to participate in once they graduate.  For some, this is the last chance to be a “student” before joining the real world!  For instance, you may want to consider an internship during law school instead of a part-time job.  You can gain invaluable experience at an internship that you likely won’t have once you graduate and are in search of a paying job!

Law schools may also offer experiences such as clinics where students have the opportunity to serve actual clients.  Clinics often give students more hands-on experience than law firms and can be a great opportunity to gain some practical experience!  Although students generally do not receive compensation for participation in clinics, schools may offer academic credit.

Still, other students prefer to solely focus on academics while in law school.  Although some schools may have a practical requirement and it is recommended that you gain some practical experience during law school, either in a clinic, internship, or part-time job, focusing on academics and maintaining a high GPA is a great goal!  It is imperative to think about what is important to you and to focus on your personal goals during law school!

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