Law school requires a hell lot of time and effort. As much as possible, once enrolled, one should devote all his or her time in studying law. But not all of us were blessed enough to have folks who can afford to send us to law school. I am studying in a law school where about 70% of the law students are working. Given such a situation, most of them cannot get a full load schedule in order to finish their law studies in four years. I myself had struggled keeping myself in law school without affecting my work and vice versa. When I first signed up for law school, I worked as an English tutor for Korean students. The school that employed me had to close because of some labor issues and so after my first semester during my freshman year, I had to put my law studies in abeyance because I simply cannot finance my studies (my parents can’t either).
After that, I worked as a call center agent. After two years of working, I decided to go back to law school (I chose to start back at scratch in law school). The first year was fine but during my sophomore year, I had to quit the call center industry to explore the world of home based employment – which I consider the best job to have if you’re taking up law school. This job, along with similar other jobs which my classmates have, I’ll recommend to any law student hoping to make ends meet and hoping to have a decent work-school-life balance.
Here are what I consider the best jobs to have while taking up law:
1. Home Based Employment – Particularly online jobs. There are a lot of home-based employment out there. It could range from tailoring jobs at home to baking cakes to sitting in front of a computer doing online jobs. But online jobs, to me, is the best home based employment that one could get nowadays. It’s just that not a lot of students are taking advantage of it simply because they are intimidated by it.
Perks: True, it is an intimidating field but your source of knowledge in this field is unlimited. There are practically millions of tutorials out there that can help you gain expertise or at least the needed knowledge and skill to perform online jobs. These online jobs range from responding to client emails, social media updates, blogging, search engine optimization, chat support, email support, web design, website management, etc. Don’t mind the technicality of the terms because these are generally easy tasks (save for web design or web development which do require some sort of expertise but then again I did not have any formal training on these but was able to learn them by taking up YouTube tutorials). And these tutorials are free.
One advantage of online jobs is that you own your time. You’re not on an 8 to 5 schedule but rather on a flexible schedule. Most online jobs are project based but you still need to be very aware of your time so don’t take projects which you think you can’t finish on time. There are practically thousands of projects out there so choose what fits you best.
Another advantage is that it pays well. The beginners’ rate is normally at $2.75 per hour but depending on how you “market” yourself, this rate can increase. And as you get more experience, your rate gets higher.
Want to learn more about online jobs? Get some more tips here: The Pinoy Homeworker For online jobs, there are a lot of websites out there where you can get one but I’d recommend you to check Odesk.com and start an account there. You’d discover more as you gain experience.
Disadvantages: Cool as it sounds, this field does have its disadvantages too. One is if you happen to get the dreaded “client-from-hell”. Every online worker gets that at least once in their online job career. If you get unfortunate enough, you may by chance get a client who’s unreasonably demanding, picky, and hard to please. But this normally happens only during your first months as an online worker. Once you get to establish yourself clients will normally hire you in a more or less permanent status, say being hired as a virtual assistant and you won’t need to find any more clients – the lesser the chance of getting picky clients.
2. Call Center or Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)
Perks: You don’t take home your job. It stays in the workplace. So once you’re home from work, you can allot your free time for reading law books and cases. Some jobs do not have this perk. I used to have classmates who are teachers and they usually “complain” about why they have to bring home their lesson plans at home or check papers at home or prepare their visual aids at home (but I do have some classmates who are school teachers who are also very good at time management).
I was fortunate enough to work in a sales account at a local BPO. It was inbound but once we get our daily quota we’re done for the day and we can do whatever we want. I usually bring my notes to review when I’m not in a call or after reaching my quota. So it also helps if the account you’ll be working for is lenient and is not that strict when it comes to what you can bring to the workplace.
Salary is also decent especially if you are single. Promotion is also fast paced in a BPO. You just need to have the confidence and the skills in order to move up the corporate ladder.
Disadvantages: One disadvantage here though are overtimes. Sometimes, especially during holidays, the volume of calls is too much for the entire workforce and you’ll end up working two to three hours over your daily schedule. This of course cuts your study time and your energy.
It can also be stressful especially if you work in a financial account or in technical support accounts where you normally get irate customers. You become a stress absorber and if you can’t manage stress very well you better know your priorities because trust me, law school itself is already very stressful. You may end up quitting either of the two. This happened to me when I was transferred to a student loan account where calls were nonstop and 90% of the calls were irate callers. I didn’t want to have a career in a call center anyways and so I quit.
In sum, the type of account and service you support in a call center is a determining factor whether or not it is a suitable job for a law student or not. But still, the mere fact that you don’t bring home your work is already a plus factor.
3. Working in a law office
I never experienced this but I do have classmates who had and they have nothing but good words for it. But the experiences they shared only involve small law offices so things could be very different in big law offices.
Perks: The number one perk is of course you are being trained and prepped for the legal world. You get to gain first-hand knowledge on how law practice is done in a law office and of course how it really works in the real world.
Work schedule is normally from 8 to 5 and they say they do have a lot of downtime. So they can read their law books and cases during downtime and of course during their breaks. Since they work in a law office, they are ensured a decent salary as well so they can support their law study.
Disadvantage: Number one complaint I hear is when they get to be assigned unusual errands or tasks that are outside their job description like babysitting their boss’ kids which could be a handful. Or if they are asked to drive the lawyer around town the whole day.
4. Running a small business
Perks: Just like home-based jobs, you own your time. It also helps if you have a partner so you don’t get to take all the management stuff on your own. A small business could range from running a sari-sari store to running a mini-grocery or carinderia to baking cakes as well. I have this classmate who bakes cakes and she says she normally does the baking early in the morning and then she’d make the deliveries in the a.m. After that, she’ll do all her readings in the afternoon and then two to three hours before bed. So she has a well managed time with that schedule.
I guess in all business, big or small, time management is key. This is especially true if you have other activities like your law study. Keeping a well managed schedule ensures that your job is compatible with your law study.
Disadvantages: Peak seasons where there is a large influx of business or orders. You would have to sacrifice some of your study time in order to satisfy some of your business needs – especially if you do not have anyone to help you out, like if you can’t afford to hire an assistant. If peak seasons are a disadvantage, then the reverse could also be true. If business is slow, you may find extra time to read your cases but then your income may not be enough to satisfy your financial needs – especially if it’s time to pay your tuition.
The above recommendations are based on my own experience and experiences shared by people I know. If you think there are some other jobs which would also be a nice fit to a law student, feel free to write them in the comment box below.
AUTHOR: Howard Chan is the owner of UberDigests. When he has free time (cough, cough), he takes that time to learn more about SEO, web design, and other stuff about coding. He finished Political Science but is no way a political scientist nor is he a politician. He is currently laboring as a law student in one of the law schools in the Cordilleras. Feel free to check his Filipinolosophy blog.