Advantages and Disadvantages of Working While in Law School

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 6, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Law school can be rigorous, as it requires significant student effort, determination, and commitment. If attending law school, you may intend to work while completing your degree to gain work experience or cover specific expenses. Learning more about working during law school can help you decide how to balance your activities to get your desired results. In this article, we explore why it's important to review the advantages and disadvantages of working while in law school, review a list of the advantages and disadvantages, and offer tips for helping you work efficiently.

Why explore the advantages and disadvantages of working while in law school?

Working while in law school can be a rewarding and challenging experience. During this program, students usually research, conduct mock trials, review case studies, and complete internships. Aside from attending lectures and participating in classes, you also likely write papers and complete a final dissertation or thesis. These activities can be intensive and time-consuming, requiring law school students to have effective time management techniques to ensure academic success.

Considering the advantages and disadvantages of working during law school can help you determine whether to get a job or focus on learning. Here are jobs that law students might consider pursuing if they decide to work while they study:

  • research assistant

  • receptionist

  • campus tour guide

  • library assistant

  • parking attendant

Related: How to Get into Law School (A Complete Guide)

Advantages of working during law school

Here are potential benefits that working during your law school program can offer:

Reduces academic burnout

There are significant time requirements and academic demands for students while in law school. Using all your time to study, attend classes, research case histories, and write reports may cause academic burnout. Burnouts are temporary emotional responses to monotonous routines or high-stress situations. While accepting the responsibilities of part-time work can increase your duties and commitments, it allows you to take a break from your studies.

Changing your routine by getting a job can distract you from academic pressures or demands and help reduce feelings of burnout. By taking breaks from studying to clear your mind, you can maintain a more positive attitude when attending to school-related responsibilities.

Related: How to Avoid Burnout in 10 Steps (With Definition and Signs)

Enhances time management skills

As a law practitioner, you often strive to meet strict deadlines when gathering evidence and completing paperwork. You may also manage multiple clients simultaneously and communicate with different people to secure evidence and conduct advocacy for clients. Time management skills are essential to complete these tasks efficiently and achieve clients' desired outcomes. Working during law school can help prepare you for a rewarding career experience by planning your schedule effectively. You can also learn various time management strategies to balance academic and work life that can be useful after the program.

Provides additional income

Law school students often have several financial obligations to consider. These expenses may include paying student loans, food, clothing, housing, and education. Regardless of whether you're independently financing your education, working during your law school program can provide additional income to support your lifestyle.

Related: Is Law School Worth It? (With FAQs and Areas of Practice)

Helps you gain work experience

Due to the competitive nature of the legal industry, professional experience is crucial to pursue your desired career in law. Working as an administrative assistant, law clerk, or paralegal during law school can help you gain relevant experience in a legal setting. For example, as a courthouse clerk, you can learn to gather information on how to argue a case in a judge's presence to get a favourable ruling. These experiences allow you to practise what you're learning in law school, which can be crucial to creating your law resume.

Aside from drafting a highly impressive resume, a part-time position working for a judge, private attorney, or law firm can also help you develop the essential skills for a law practitioner. Excellent communication, organization, and problem-solving skills are essential for law professionals to remain relevant and desirable in the competitive industry. These skills and experiences can give you a competitive advantage during your job search after completing law school.

Disadvantages of working during law school

The following are possible disadvantages of working while completing your law school program:

Less free time

Free time allows people to relax and attend to personal affairs. For example, you can maintain better relationships with friends and family and enjoy a more social life. Because fulfilling academic duties in law school already takes a sufficient amount of time, working might not leave you much extra time for social interactions. Maintaining a high GPA also takes a lot of support and planning. Adding a part-time job to the intensive schedule can leave you with very little free time, which may ultimately cause increased stress on your mind and body.

Contrasting school policies

Universities are usually aware of the intensive academic demands of law students. In the past, many law schools didn't allow students to work throughout the program. Currently, some schools allow students to work while attending law school, while others have certain restrictions. Depending on the institution, it might be against the school policy to work while completing the program.

Related: How Long Is Law School? (With FAQs and Detailed Answers)

Interferes with internships

Law programs often require students to complete at least one internship to earn the degree. These internships are often during summer when students have less coursework. During an internship, you typically research, complete and file paperwork, and assist lawyers or prosecutors in representing clients and reviewing court cases, depending on your career aspiration in law. Completing your internship successfully is essential to your career success after earning your degree, and working while in law school might interfere with the required internships.

Related: Externship vs. Internship: Definitions and Differences

Tips for working while attending law school

Here are a few tips you can adopt for a successful law career if you intend to work while attending law school:

Review the institution's policies

Each institution may have regulations or requirements regarding work and other external obligations. While it's possible to work during law school, consider reviewing the school's policies regarding work hours to make more informed decisions. You can do this by researching the institution's website and contacting the student support administrator or admissions counsellor to confirm the information you find on the school website. If you're sure you require additional income to support yourself, consider applying to schools where the policies align more with your current needs.

Take deserved breaks

While completing academic and work responsibilities can be a significant workload, including relaxation time in your schedule is essential. Review your daily schedule and include sufficient breaks to relieve work and school-related stress. People have different stress relief and relaxation techniques, such as daily meditation, yoga, verbal affirmations, or breathing exercises. Depending on your preferences, it may also be planning alone time, watching movies, or joining social gatherings. Taking deserved breaks can help you refocus and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Related: Benefits of Taking a Break from Work to Reduce Stress

Identify your support system

Deciding to work and attend law school simultaneously is a significant commitment that requires dedication. You may require help from others at times when maintaining this schedule. It's essential to identify your support system and tell them about your plans to work during law school. They can offer valuable insights and support to help you complete this successfully. Your support system typically entails a list of people you can rely on for physical, emotional, or academic support. They may include:

  • coursemates

  • colleagues

  • student advisors

  • relationship partners

  • academic counsellors

  • mentors

  • friends

  • family

Create an organizational strategy

Once you decide to work during your law school program, creating an effective organizational strategy is advisable. You can discuss your time commitments discuss with your employer and review your curriculum to determine the amount of time to study, research, attend classes, and complete assignments. After deciding these factors, you can develop a schedule outlining your routine, duties, and responsibilities. Consider using a calendar to review your weekly schedule and set reminders to remain focused on your daily tasks. A neat and organized workspace can help you improve concentration and avoid wasting time searching for study materials.

Related: An Organizational Strategy: What It Is and How to Create One

Apply for assistantship programs

Assistantships are academic programs where graduate or post-graduate students work as teacher assistants. In this role, your duties may include leading first-year classes, grading papers, and supporting university professors. While securing this position is often competitive, many institutions offer assistants tuition discounts, accommodation, monthly stipends, or full tuition reimbursement. Applying for an assistantship program can be ideal if you plan to work to afford accommodation or tuition costs.

Find an appropriate job

Choosing a flexible job that suits your needs as a law school student is essential. Consider searching for jobs that offer nighttime hours or remote working options to accommodate your class schedules. You can also ensure the job you accept allows you sufficient time to study. Avoid jobs that provide limited time off or require employees to work overtime.

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