Law School Discussion

ABA work policy


ABA work policy
« on: July 20, 2008, 03:57:49 PM »
Does anyone have experience working during their 1L year?  I understand that the ABA's policy stipulates that full-time law school students are prohibited from working more than 20 hours per week.  In theory I will need to work "full-time" as I would be on salary but I can reasonably expect to only work in the neighborhood of 20 hours per week.  Thus, I have the following questions:

1) Is a student responsible for self-reporting when it comes to outside work?  Are you ethically required to tell the school that you are working in addition to being a student?

2) How stringent is the ABA's policy?  If you are not working hourly and your schedule fluctuates depending on the time of the year, is it ok to work more than 20 hours some weeks if there will be a trade-off for less hours other weeks?

It seems like the intent of the rule is to prevent students from having outside work obligations that preclude a "full-time" immersion in their legal education.  I am hoping that the rule is flexible enough to allow students to comply with the spirit of the rule while also being able to make responsible decisions about what is best for them.  I would greatly appreciate any insight that the LSD community may have in this area.

Re: ABA work policy
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2008, 08:02:20 AM »
If you are going to work more than 20 hours a week, you should do a part-time program. Working 20 hours will be difficult enough and going over will violate the ABA policy, which your school must follow (assuming your school is ABA approved.) Your school may also have a policy that is even more restrictive than the ABA policy. 

Call your school and find out what you are looking for because they will be the ones delivering the consequences to you if you violate school policies.

Re: ABA work policy
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2008, 12:56:40 PM »
I just finished 1L, working about 16-20 hours/wk in a professional job. While I found it to be manageable, and enjoyed not having to live like a poor student, here are a few cautionary pieces of advice I would offer:

1) Make sure your employer is fully on board and understands your priorities.  I found that professors tend to assume that law school is your only time commitment during 1L and will liberally schedule class makeups, meetings, conferences, etc., without regard for your schedule.  If your job does not give you some flexibility in scheduling around this sort of thing, you may find yourself between a rock and a hard place in terms of your time.  (For the same reason, it's also helpful to let your professors and administration know of your plans- they may be accommodating if they know your situation).

2) Do not try to work during finals.  For about two weeks at the end of the semester, studying for finals is a full time job.  I would not want to compound that stress by trying to squeeze in work time. 

3) You will probably have to sacrifice a lot of the non-academic activities that come with law school.  Whether it's happy hour, intramural sports or other extracurriculars, the decision to work during 1L means that you will not have time for a lot of the events that make law school fun.  The hardest part for me was having to turn down a lot of invitations to do fun things with fun people because I just didn't have time. 

4) Make law school your first priority and don't lose sight of it.  I made myself available to my employer by cell phone and email all the time, but I also let them know that I would not always get right back to them if I was busy with school.  Depending on your job, there may be some pressure to put it ahead of your school work, but no part time job is worth sacrificing your academic performance. 

This is likely to get me flamed, but the fact is that most law students have way more free time than they like to admit.  If you have good time management skills and an understanding employer, there is no reason that you cannot keep working and be successful in law school with a little extra effort.


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Re: ABA work policy
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2008, 04:53:35 AM »
I worked 20 hr./wk as a 1L and it definitely is manageable but it depends on the person. I agree with what the previous poster said. My ER was great as far as understanding my priorities and giving me time off for finals. I admit I missed some social events I would have liked to attend, but I didn't live in the law library. I had sufficient time between work and class to get out and live.