Law School Diary: Trying to Make Ends Meet

One of the reasons I stay anonymous as LBB online is not only to protect my privacy but so that I can be brutally honest and personal and hopefully help someone in the process. I am starting a 'Law School Diary' that will be updated every Monday. The topics include law school experiences, embarrassing moments, relationships, my fitness journey, and my life outside of law school. I hope you enjoy it :)






It's no secret that I (as well as many other students) am pretty much broke. Hence the Legally Blonde and Broke ;). I am constantly trying to post ways in which you can save a little money during the year or make some extra grocery money. These tips are not just to help you, but it is how I try to stay afloat while in school. 

Law school is not cheap. Especially when you don't qualify for financial aid assistance. I was lucky enough to get a pretty great merit scholarship, but I am still accruing loans - on top of my loans from undergrad. I made it my goal not to take out loans besides for tuition. This is SO much harder said than done. 

I currently go to law school in a very expensive city. Rent, groceries, books, and living expenses sometimes total $1500 a month (and that is with my money saving tricks). I struggled for so long trying to make ends meet. 

This is my broke ass law school journey. Enjoy.

Starting out law school, I had a little bit of money saved up from working the summer. My summer job law clerking didn't pay me much ($12/hr), but still working full-time and living at home at the time helped me save some money. I will tell you, I constantly felt like I was being paid much less than I was worth. I had a bachelor's degree..I had good experience..I did good work. Well, that's what happens when you work for a smaller law firm - they pay you like shit. Unfortunately, this was the same kind of pay most clerks were getting near my area in smaller firms. 

Over the summer, I only worked at this job, thinking that the money that I made would likely last me a long time or at least a couple of months. I kept thinking to myself that I am only paying for myself  - how expensive could that be?

Well - I was wrong. Living on your own, especially in a big city, is expensive as hell. I blew through the money I saved in the first month. Yep. I clearly didn't factor in furniture, books, groceries, etc. when I was trying to budget my year. When I got to the end of the month I started to panic as to how I was going to afford rent for the next month let alone food for myself. 



That is when I started to get pretty savvy with my money. I went back to work at the firm one day a week and was earning an extra $80 a week, which doesn't seem like a lot, but that was groceries and books for the month. On top of that, I started doing all kinds of research studies in my area. I would do about 4 per month which equaled about $400/mo. 


Despite these efforts, I was still struggling to make ends meet. I started going to every school event that offered free food, eating all of the food in the kitchen at work (lol), and doing surveys online for gift cards to restaurants. It became exhausting trying to figure out how I was going to make this work - on top of having to worry about school. 

Let me also point out that my parents did not and still do not pay for anything of mine, which I never wanted them to do. I am adult and I like being able to support myself. On top of that, I didn't live in some fancy apartment. I lived in a cheap studio by school. So - this was me trying to make it while I lived pretty frugally. 

Anyways, what I was doing was not working for me. Yes, the studies helped me earn some extra cash and the free food was nice, but I was stressing myself out beyond belief and it was distracting me from my studies. 




At this point, I thought it might be time to cave and just take out some loans to pay for rent. I thought I would try one more thing before I truly gave up. I decided to try to get a freelance/remote position. I looked all over the internet for something that would allow me to go to school, but still make a fair income.

I found a lot of scams - a lot of jobs advertising amazing opportunities for pretty great pay. Well surprise surprise, nothing is that easy and these were fake scammers trying to get my personal information. I attribute this mostly to the type of work I was searching for. I wanted some easy data entry, virtual assistant work. It sounds like easy work for great pay. Well, a million other people were looking for these same opportunities and the chance of me actually getting one was very very slim. 

Then it hit me. Why don't I use my education and my legal experience to find something in my line of work? It won't be the easiest work in the world, but it will definitely be easier to obtain.

I ended up getting not one - but two -  freelance legal jobs. One was doing research for a retired attorney and the other was drafting documents (which I had experience doing from my law clerk job). I won't lie to you - with school, it was A LOT of work. I was spending 60+ hours a week studying and completing these jobs. But - I was able to pay my rent, buy groceries, and not be concerned every moment of the day how I was going to afford things. 

Currently, I work at a firm that pays me a lot more than $12. During the school years, I work at this part time and still do some legal research on the side for some extra cash. That year was one of the hardest of my life. It is not easy being young, broke, and in law school. 

Let me ease your mind - it is possible. It is possible to pay for your rent and living expenses without taking additional loans. It is also possible to get a clerking job that doesn't stiff you like mine did. The key is to keep looking and to apply your experience. There are a lot of opportunities out there, you just need to find them.

I can honestly say, I can't wait for the day that I don't have to worry about working multiple jobs. The day where I can just focus on my career and start my life. Until then, I feel okay with where I am the work I have accomplished. 

Comments

  1. This is so comforting to read! How did you go about participating in the research studies?

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    1. Hi - honestly I just googled 'paid research studies' and 'paid focus groups' in my area and there were a lot of results that came up. You essentially register as a participant and then they email you with screeners to see if you fit the study. I know FocusPointe Global has research offices throughout the U.S. and they typically pay really well.

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