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Author Topic: Working first year: terrible idea or possible?  (Read 1346 times)

quinten

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Working first year: terrible idea or possible?
« on: July 01, 2005, 04:13:30 PM »
Hi,

I'm an incoming first year at Cornell, considering trying to find some part time work to pay for books, travel, food, utilities, etc., enough to earn a few $thousand/semester. I have a lucky situation where I don't have to pay rent or tuition.

I'm a fairly experienced software developer so I was thinking I might try to find freelance work -- that's how I've been paying my way the last few years and during my undergraduate experience. A few hours a week at $20/hr would be enough for me.

Thoughts? Is it possible to balance 5-10 hours of part time work with the demands of law school, especially if the work can be done at odd hours? If it's possible I might try to do that rather than borrow more money, and my savings to date will probably only cover the first semester of school.

kristin1644

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Re: Working first year: terrible idea or possible?
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2005, 06:59:03 PM »
I'd see how you feel after you start--don't plan on working at first.  It'll take some time to get into the swing of things.  If you do feel like you can work I'd be surprised.  The first year is difficult.

Krisace

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Re: Working first year: terrible idea or possible?
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2005, 08:19:42 PM »
I'd say consider yourself lucky not to have to be paying tuition.  On that note, even though 5-10 hours may be manageble it might cost you in the long run.  Success in law school correlates directly to salary.  10 hours per week = 300 hours per school year just about.  If you spent that time studying it'll make a huge difference, believe me.  Law school is all about how much work you put into it.  I am definitely not amongst the "smartest" in my class but I worked harder than almost anyone I know and finished in the top 10%. 

So I would recommend taking out whatever loans you need.  Take a little extra and enjoy your life as well because a positive mindset and an extra 300 hours of studying will pay off in the long run by getting you better grades, a better internship and thus better money.

tacojohn

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Re: Working first year: terrible idea or possible?
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2005, 04:09:50 PM »
I have no experience with this since I'm just starting this year, but I would agree with what everyone above said.  Don't work your first semester at the very least, to see how you respond to the workload.  It might be tempting to say that you can easily work when you have a decent handle on everything at the end of September, but what about late November and December when everything really rachets up?

I may work my second semester, but only because the job I would do (intramural officiating) is something that I love to do, something I can do for as little as 3 hours per week, something that I know will be over long before finals, and I'll do it instead of some other lesiure actitity, like watching TV or exercising.

quinten

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Re: Working first year: terrible idea or possible?
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2005, 02:52:35 PM »
Oh I realize that $20/hr isn't a lot, but it would be enough for me to earn my way without working too many hours. Anyway I think my best option would be to borrow based on what everyone has said, thanks.

MidWestLawGril

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Re: Working first year: terrible idea or possible?
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2005, 05:00:41 PM »
Working your first year = terrible idea.

If you want to work in Big Law especially, everything is based on your first year grades. You get your 2nd summer job based on your 1st year grades and you get your permanent job offer based on your second summer job.

I don't understand why making a few grand this year is more important than increasing your post-law school earnings by $100,000 a year. 

Also, if you don't have to pay tuition or rent? jeez, what's the point of working?  90% of people will have to pay a ton more than you.  If you want to relax, join a sports league or something that you can bail out of easily.

quinten

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Re: Working first year: terrible idea or possible?
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2005, 10:28:32 AM »
Working your first year = terrible idea.

If you want to work in Big Law especially, everything is based on your first year grades. You get your 2nd summer job based on your 1st year grades and you get your permanent job offer based on your second summer job.

I don't understand why making a few grand this year is more important than increasing your post-law school earnings by $100,000 a year.

Well, I'm not expecting or planning to seek a job in a big law firm, even for a few years, or to make a six figure salary. I'm planning to go into public interest law. One of the attractions of not worrying about tuition or housing is that I don't have to worry about huge loans that would force me to get a high paying job. Increasing my debt burden any amount would decrease my ability to accept a lower paying job at an NGO.

It looks like for my sanity, it's not worth trying to work at the same time as I take classes. I certainly do plan to do as well in school as possible, but perhaps now you see why my perspective on borrowing is a bit different than yours.

DeltaTauKyle

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Re: Working first year: terrible idea or possible?
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2005, 11:36:16 AM »
I'm in the same boat, where I can do contract programming work like I've been doing.  The cool thing about the game company I work for is that its no pressure, I can work 5-10 hours a week when I can, and if it can't be done, I can just tell them that, no worries.

I think I'm going to try this, we'll see how it goes.
BC Law '08
Summer IP Intern

MidWestLawGril

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Re: Working first year: terrible idea or possible?
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2005, 11:42:05 AM »
but perhaps now you see why my perspective on borrowing is a bit different than yours.

Well, not really. If you haven't even started your first year, do you *really* know what you want to do when you graduate?  Wouldn't you rather have the options to choose whatever you want, instead of limiting yourself with possibly low grades.  And, my reasoning doesn't only apply to BigLaw, it applies to many of the possible career choices.

Plus, if you're not borrowing for tuition or rent, you'd only have to borrow maybe a few thousand dollars a year, as opposed to $150,000, like most people.

Regardless, I'm sure you'll be fine. good luck!

aryeal

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Re: Working first year: terrible idea or possible?
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2005, 08:35:20 PM »
5-10 hours in a job you can walk away from may work out fine.  For financial reasons, I kept my paralegal job and cut back to 20 hours.  And, yes it hurt me grade-wise although I pretty much expected the result.  In my line of work as the "case manager" I actually put in more than 20 hours monitoring my email and answering phone calls, etc. 

This term we've restructured to the better.  We hired a legal assistant who is a DOLL and really knows her stuff (we had a disaster working for us the first year).  I can now unplug when I leave.  Also, in the first year I had classes scheduled each day and had to work on top of going to class every day.  I was left with the weekends only to study and was pretty much exhausted and stressed out. This fall I have class three days a week and I will spend two days at the office (plus two hours one morning before class).

Oh yeah, and I took out private loan money so I can cut back a couple hours a week if needed.  Love it now, will hate it later!

The only reason I wasn't totally freaked at the propect of having less than stellar grades the first year is because I had my summer job lined up (continuing my present position full time).  This would have been a serious situation had I been depending on my 1L grades for a summer internship.

Give it a shot.  You'll have a good idea a couple months in whether it's working and plenty of time to recoup any time you've lost.  Good luck.