Don’t Have A Summer Job? It’s Time To Get Resourceful And Here’s How

By Chris Nikitas, Esq., BARBRI Director of Legal Education

Alright, you don’t have a summer job. It’s stressful. Whether you’re a 1L or 2L student, this is a rather scary position to be in, honestly. First thing’s first … “don’t panic.” Especially in your first year of law school. Not having a legal job during the summer isn’t an end-of-the-world scenario. I hosted bar exam trivia during my 1L summer. A prominent scholar I know taught tennis lessons. The fact is, you can make up for not having a summer job in a number of ways and here are a few ideas.

DON’T THROW IN THE TOWEL

When final exams wrap up and you still don’t have a job, do not give up. Get out there. Go to legal aid societies, public interest firms and non-profit organizations to start handing out resumes. Don’t be shy. Pass them out, whenever and to whomever you can, like they’re flyers for a local band. Even if you get an opportunity, you may be getting a late start, but you’ll still get to add a valuable line to your resume. That’s all that matters. Even if nothing comes of it, you’ll have your name circulated and show potential employers that you’re determined and driven.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF NETWORKING EVENTS

One of the biggest benefits of a summer job is the networking opportunities; however, you can still network outside of a summer job. There will be networking events all summer for young lawyers and law students. Do some investigating, find a few to attend and start slinging around business cards like they’re candy. You’ll be surprised how quickly these networking moments (and just handing over a business card) can turn into possible employment leads in the future.

MAKE UP FOR IT DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR

Your school has opportunities to provide you with experience during the year: Field placements, internships and externships. Talk with your career services office to find out what they can offer you as far as placement help. You’ll get some course credit at the same time, too. Consider taking a litigation or drafting class for some realistic experience that you can add to your cover letter and resume.

SPEAK WITH YOUR PROFESSORS

One of your professors may still need research assistants or may introduce you to someone who would like some summer help. Your professors might even have more sage advice on how to find that elusive summer job.

Above all else, remember, this is not by any means the end of your law school career. Part of my 1L summer, I worked for career services during On Campus Interviews, serving as a runner between the interview rooms. I ate lunch with the attorneys and spoke with them more each day than anyone they interviewed. As a result, I left that week with a stack of business cards that turned into valuable new contacts. I was able to utilize them in the coming years. Just keep at it!

Character and fitness: Not just virtues, requirements

By Mike Sims,
BARBRI President

If you are a graduating 3L student, you can probably relate to these tweets:

You never realize how many addresses you’ve had for the past 10 years until you fill out the bar’s character and fitness. #lawschoolproblems

It’s fun listing employers like Show-Me’s and Tequila Wyld on my bar application #lawschoolproblems

If not, let me welcome you to Character and Fitness season.

In all 50 states and the District of Columbia, third year law students are making preparations for graduation and beginning to think about the bar exam. Finally, after almost three years of law school, the end is in sight … almost. But now these soon-to-be-lawyers must complete the dreaded character and fitness application.

THE QUESTIONS ARE MEANT TO CHALLENGE YOU

Most people outside the legal profession would probably be surprised to learn that lawyers have to pass a character and fitness test (either before or after the bar exam, depending on the state) prior to becoming a licensed attorney. Or they might joke that lawyers have to prove we have bad character. Or we’re out of shape from sitting and reading all the time. Well, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Depending on what state you’re being licensed in, you will be asked some challenging questions. When I applied for the Georgia bar exam, I had to list every credit card I had ever had and the current balance on each of those cards.

Here’s another example: Pennsylvania applicants are asked to provide pages of information that include:

  • Everywhere you have lived, worked or attended school for a period of more than six months since age 16 (not just cities, but exact addresses)
  • Everywhere you have ever held a driver’s license or had a DUI or been a part of a serious traffic violation
  • Financial history – bankruptcy, delinquent on taxes or child support, past due accounts
  • Academic records – any discipline
  • Criminal history – everything except minor offenses
  • Civil proceedings – everything except divorce or minor motor vehicle accidents

A good place to start is by downloading the free BARBRI Bar Exam Digest, which includes all you need to know for every bar exam in every state.

THEY WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU

And they want to know it in the next few weeks. Keep in mind that some states require you to submit this application before you can take the bar exam and other states allow you to submit it afterward. If you have previously submitted a character and fitness application, you may need to submit an update depending on your state’s requirements.

As you begin completing your application, give yourself plenty of time. The last thing you want to do is miss the deadline because you could not come up with all of the information by the deadline.

AND REMEMBER THAT CANDOR IS KEY

Nothing upsets a character and fitness committee more than discovering something about you that you failed to disclose in your application. It is far better to disclose and explain something from your past than to try to hide it. If you have a question about whether or not to include something in your character and fitness application, you can contact the bar examiners in your state. Your law school’s Dean of Students can also be an invaluable resource during this process.

There are definitely #lawschoolproblems out there. With a little time and a lot of thought, your character and fitness application does not have to be one of them.

Don’t Stress. Take Control of Bar Exam Fees.

By Hadley Leonard,
BARBRI Legal Education Advisor

Studies show most law school students won’t begin thinking about the bar exam until their last year. That might mean that you, on the verge of said final year, are feeling the creep of anxiety from the looming expenses: the fees for sitting for the exam, the balance on their bar review account, the living expenses during bar studying. Then the panic begins to set in – where is all this money going to come from?

Create a budget

Budgeting is maybe the least glamorous work in the English language. But it’s also one of the most effective and proven ways to manage financial challenges. No one has ever had fun sitting down in front of Excel and allocating out their income or financial reserves to food, rent and savings. Those who do, however, sleep better at night, in control of where their money is going, rather than their money being in control of where they are going.

Find areas to cut back

After looking at your budget, try to find where you can eliminate spending. I know we all feel like we can’t possibly do this, but really you can. The easiest areas are eating out and entertainment expenses. A good strategy for cutting back: plan to eat out one meal per week. And skip the specialty coffee pit-stops a few days a week. It all adds up.

Save

Determine how much you need to save, how much you need to spend each month in necessities and find an equilibrium. Put it on paper and stick to it. Make sure you start saving as soon as possible; it’s never too late. Whatever your income, save a little each week.

If you were to save only $25 a week, over the course of three years of law school, you would have accumulated almost $4,000. $25 a week is not noticeable; the balance you accumulate (plus interest) is.

BUDGETING PUTS YOU IN CONTROL

This may have been the most un-fun post you’ve read all week (and probably sounds like a lot of things your grandpa used to tell you), but there’s a reason people keep shelling out this advice. It works. Taking control of your income and financial reserves puts you in the driver’s seat and frees you up to invest in what’s best for your future.