If you’re facing graduation and don’t have a job lined up after law school, you might be stretched thin for money. A bar exam loan will only cover so much, and the interest rates on these private loans can be very high. If you can’t afford monthly rent payments near your law school, you might be looking at a move back home to your parents’ house for bar season. Here’s how to survive studying for the bar exam while rooming with your parents.
1. Set Clear Expectations with your Parents about your Commitments and Availability
If you have a good relationship with your parents, they probably missed you while you were away at law school for three years. You may have skipped holidays while studying for final exams and probably didn’t get to spend a lot of time with your family. Unless one of your parents is a lawyer or you have other lawyers in your family, your parents might not understand how much time you need to spend studying for the exam. They might put pressure on you to spend time together now that you’re living back at home.
Before you begin studying, you should set clear expectations with your parents and family about what a serious commitment studying for the bar exam is. You’ve invested three years of your life and a lot of money to get to this point. Let your parents know how important passing the bar is to you and your career, and tell them that you’ll be able to spend quality time together after the bar exam is over. Tell them you plan to treat bar study like a full-time job and kindly ask them not to interrupt you while you’re studying unless it’s an emergency.
2. If your Parents are Offering Support, let them Know what will Help you the Most
If you’re lucky to have supportive parents who are willing to help you survive the stress of studying for the bar exam, let them know what will help you the most. Can your mom or dad keep the pantry stocked with your favorite healthy snacks? Do you need a companion for a daily walk or exercise class so that you can stay physically and mentally healthy while you study for the bar? Perhaps a parent can help you work through your flash cards from time to time. If your parents have asked you what they can do to help, they’d probably be delighted to know that they can contribute to your success on the bar exam in some way.
3. Take Advantage of the Comforts of Home
Few people are truly excited to move back home after law school. But after some time, you might realize living at home is not as bad as you thought it would be. Enjoy the perks of being at home during your breaks from studying — home-cooked meals, time with your four-legged friends, unconditional love, and premium cable might be just what you need after three pressure-filled years in a hypercompetitive atmosphere. Hopefully this is the last time you’ll ever need to live at home, so try your best to enjoy it.
4. Connect with your Peers Regularly
If you’ve left the area where you attended law school, you may be attending bar lectures remotely and not have any peers nearby. If that’s the case, it’s important to check in with your most supportive friends from law school from time to time to commiserate, compare notes, and swap study strategies. You may want to schedule short video chats or phone calls with your law school friends to keep each other on track and remind yourself that you’re not in this alone.
5. Have an Exit Strategy
After the bar exam is over, sit down and make a plan to move out. Setting a deadline for yourself might help keep you motivated and sane. You might need to get a non-legal job while bar results are pending that will allow you to save up for your next place. You should also apply to as many legal or J.D.-plus jobs as possible so that you can secure full-time work after you get your bar exam results.
If you’ve received a job offer from a law firm or private company, don’t be afraid to ask for a relocation bonus or stipend during the negotiation process. If your new employer can’t make this work (non-profits generally don’t offer these types of perks), ask about the possibility of restructuring your annual salary so that you can get settled near your new gig with the help of an advance.
A move back home after law school can affect your self-esteem and confidence. Do your best to keep a healthy perspective and look for the positives in the situation. Once you find a job after the bar and move back out, you’ll thank yourself for making a smart financial decision.