I’m sure that we can all agree that law school is extremely expensive. Unfortunately, once you’ve walked across the stage in your hooded robes to gather your diplomas, the expenses don’t stop there. Afterwards, you’ll have to put together thousands of dollars to pay for your bar prep course, the actual bar exam, fitness and certification and the bills and necessities that you will need to survive during bar prep. Many bar exam takers have to come up with this funding with no source of income currently available. Therefore it’s completely understandable if you’ve toyed with the idea of starting your associate position earlier in the summer as opposed to after the bar or at least getting some kind of a side hustle in an effort to put your primary focus on bar preparation as opposed to your financial struggles.
So what do you do if you’re caught in this plight? Trust me, I understand that your responsibilities will not take a back seat to the bar exam. Especially if you have a family to take care of – I can understand your desire to work while studying for a very difficult exam. But before you jump into taking on a job, you should consider pumping the brakes and really thinking about this decision. Deeply consider your study patterns, your bar prep schedule and the variety of side hustle options available. I’m not saying that working during bar prep is completely out of the question, but it’s important that you really assess whether you are capable of juggling two major responsibilities at the same time and whether your work schedule will block your opportunity for success on the exam.
Should I Get a Side Hustle?
Before getting a side hustle you should really consider whether you really need to have a job while studying for the bar. Do you already have some money saved up? Do you have family members who may be willing to sponsor you during this time? If you have available means through which you can garner financial support, then ditch the side hustle option and put your focus on bar prep.
Another thing you should consider is whether you can juggle a job and bar prep at the same time. Remember, preparing for the bar is a full-time job in and of itself, so will you also be able to work another job while taking on this major burden? Well, this all comes down to your individual skills. Maybe you worked a full-time job while you were in law school and still excelled in your courses or maybe you’ve just been an overachiever your entire life juggling several responsibilities all at once. If this is you, and you have no additional means of financial support then a side hustle may be for you.
Which Side Hustle Should I Get?
Getting the right side hustle is also essential. It’s important that you don’t get a job that will be too mind intensive or too time consuming. An ideal side hustle during the bar would be a part time position that you literally don’t need to use much of your brain for which has a super flexible schedule. I’ve spoken with attorneys who have told me about some very creative ways in which they made money during the bar and this ran the gamut from working in the library at their old school, driving for Uber on the weekends and even joining online dating sites in an effort to get a free dinner after a long study day. Now while I don’t necessarily recommend online dating during bar prep, the other two examples are perfect side hustle options. Having a desk job at the library or at your school gym etc. is a position that you don’t really have to strain your brain for, and it would likely allow you a ton of hours to just sit at a desk and get some bar prep in. Even driving for Uber or Lyft is a great option. I recommend perhaps getting some early morning shifts as this would push you to get up early in the morning and earn some quick cash before beginning your bar prep schedule for the day.
Now I understand that some of your first year positions may require you to begin in the summer during bar prep. While this may be a lot to take on, this can also be manageable. Usually, when firms or even government positions require an early start, they are usually super flexible. Some positions even allow bar preppers time in the day to study. If this is the set up that your job has, then this shouldn’t be an issue.
In the event that you have to work a full-time job without breaks and do your studying in the evening, it may be overwhelming, but it can absolutely be done. I’ve seen people do this and pass the bar on their first try. However, they literally gave their preparation their all. So if you’re in this boat, be prepared to work even harder than your peers. Also be sure to ask for at least a week or two off before the exam to solely study.
Should I Just Get a Bar Loan or Delay the Bar Exam?
If you realize you’re not cut out to get a side hustle after doing the self-assessment I suggested above, then no worries, there are options available for you! I was in a similar position. I knew I had to study for the bar full time but I had no money to survive for the summer. Therefore, I took out a bar loan. I know this isn’t an ideal option, but I was given nine months before my loan went into repayment and this provided me with some time to begin working so I could start making payments. So definitely consider this option if working while studying isn’t ideal for you.
Another option is to consider delaying the bar for maybe a year or so in an effort to save up some money to have during bar prep. While I wouldn’t recommend this as a first option, this is certainly something you could consider if taking out a loan isn’t a good idea for you. However, if you go this route, I highly recommend that you begin reviewing bar prep materials during your gap year so that everything can remain fresh in your mind by the time you begin your intensive bar preparation right before the exam.