10 Challenges and Benefits of Balancing Work and Law School

Law School

Working while studying law presents its own set of risks and rewards. In this article, we will explore ten challenges and benefits of maintaining a job during law school. Pursuing a law degree while juggling work responsibilities is undoubtedly a formidable task. Not only must you dedicate yourself to your classes, but you must also excel at your job. However, if you dream of transitioning into a legal profession, you are not alone. According to the Law School Admissions Council, 30 percent of law school applicants are individuals seeking a second career in law.

Law school tuition and fees are increasing rapidly, and the additional expenses of books and study materials can quickly add up. Considering these financial burdens, it seems logical to continue working while pursuing your law degree. Fortunately, many law schools offer programs that cater to working students, such as part-time, online, in-person, and full-time learning options.

However, it is crucial to consider the potential challenges and benefits that come with working while studying law. Let’s explore both sides of the equation.

Challenges of Working During Law School

Lack of Free Time

Having free time allows individuals to rest, recharge, and attend to personal matters. Whether it’s keeping up with family developments or spending quality time with loved ones, free time is invaluable. As a working law student, you will have limited free time, and much of it will be consumed by your studies.

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Increased Stress on Mind and Body

Activities like nature walks, meditation, and napping contribute to mental and physical well-being. They enhance memory, replenish attention, foster creativity, and boost productivity. Unfortunately, as a working law student, you will have fewer opportunities to indulge in these restorative practices. Over time, fatigue can take a toll on your mind and body. Balancing coursework and employment is essential to manage stress effectively and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Mandatory Summer Internships

While many individuals enjoy summer vacations, working law students may have to forgo these breaks for three or four years to complete their law degree. Law school programs often require summer internships, where students are expected to apply their skills in practical settings.

Possibility of Missing Classes

Your employer and law school do not communicate, so there is always a chance of conflicts between your work hours and class schedule. This may result in missed classes or work opportunities such as meetings and trainings. Missing classes can hinder your studies, making it worthwhile to consider online or part-time courses to avoid such conflicts.

Missing Work Hours

Missing classes may not be the only issue; depending on your level of commitment, you may also miss work hours. It is crucial to communicate with your employer and strive to create a schedule that accommodates your studies. This may involve working nights, weekends, off-peak hours, or shorter shifts. While it may reduce your income, compromising on work hours can prevent conflicts with your boss.

Benefits of Working During Law School

While working during law school presents its challenges, there are significant advantages to consider. Let’s explore five benefits that can help you make an informed decision.

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Building Your Resume

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of entry-level positions for lawyers is decreasing, even with the competitive nature of law programs. To secure your future in the legal sector, it may be wise to work in an entry position, such as an administrative or legal assistant. These roles can provide valuable skills and enhance your resume, increasing your chances of finding employment after graduation.

Gaining Experience in Legal Settings

As a law student, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the requirements of your future profession. Working in legal settings, such as a law firm or courthouse, can provide hands-on experience. For example, as a courthouse clerk, you will gain insight into presenting and arguing a case before a judge. Such experiences allow you to practice what you are learning in law school and understand what makes a successful law student.

Meeting Educational Expenses

Law school tuition and fees continue to rise, leading many students to rely on loans to finance their education. By working while studying, you can reduce or eliminate the need for educational loans. Furthermore, working can stabilize your financial health and assist in meeting living expenses.

Learning Additional Skills

While legal expertise is essential, additional skills are crucial to stand out in the competitive legal industry. Communication, time management, and interpersonal skills are valuable attributes that are not typically part of the law curriculum. Working in a small-to-medium-sized organization can help you develop and sharpen these skills while honing your ability to work under pressure.

Socializing with Different People

The legal profession is highly social, requiring regular interaction with diverse individuals. Working while studying allows you to socialize with potential future colleagues and expand your network. Interacting with people from various backgrounds can enhance your employability after graduation.

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Why You Should Consider Part-Time and Online Programs

To maximize your success in law school while working, part-time and online programs offer numerous benefits.

More Work Hours

Online programs offer flexibility in scheduling, avoiding potential conflicts with work hours. You can plan your study time at night or on weekends while working during the day. Part-time programs are generally scheduled in the evening, allowing you to focus on your work during the day.

Lighter Course Load

Completing a law degree while working requires immense commitment. However, online JD programs often offer part-time study options and lighter course loads, reducing the pressure associated with such rigorous courses.

Working and Studying from Home

Online programs provide the convenience of studying from home. For freelancers or self-employed individuals, this arrangement offers additional benefits. You can save commuting time and expenses, while also benefiting from the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Spending Time with Family and Friends

Studying law while working, especially in full-time programs, can leave little free time. However, online and part-time schedules offer flexibility, allowing you to find discretionary hours to spend with loved ones. These programs provide a richer family life compared to the demands of full-time work and study simultaneously.

Enrolling in law school while working presents both advantages and challenges. It offers an opportunity to finance your education while acquiring valuable skills. However, be prepared for a demanding schedule as you navigate the demands of work and class. Fortunately, online and part-time programs provide the flexibility needed to pursue a law degree while working.

To learn more about St. Francis School of Law, an elite online law school, visit Garrity Traina. We pride ourselves on offering high-quality and relevant online learning, equipping students with practical skills for complex legal matters after graduation. Explore our online JD program to see how it can benefit working students.