Breaks from law school are good for reconnecting with family and friends, restoring sleep and peace of mind, and traveling or vacationing. I did all of these over the current holiday break, including an amazing ski trip to Estes Park with a fellow BU law student and friend.
Breaks can also provide an opportunity to get valid legal experience and/or make a little money to off-set holidays gifts or expenses. Here are three such opportunities I’ve taken advantage of during law school:
Pro Bono Work
While resting my sore skiing muscles back in Boston, before the start of the semester, I worked on a pro bono project for the Education Law Center. My friend Sarah and I, the co-presidents of BU Law’s Education Law Association, updated the Center’s New Jersey Discipline Manual, a document advising parents, teachers, and advocates of student rights under New Jersey statutes and regulations.
The volunteer project was something I wanted to do to gain experience in the area of Education Law while networking with a prominent educational advocacy non-profit. Another hope was that the project would pave the way for future collaborations between our Education Law Association and the Center.
Other great pro bono opportunities include BU Law’s Spring Break service trips. The pro bono trips, which are largely paid for by the school, range from Hurricane Relief work in New Orleans to housing foreclosure work in Detroit to Anti-Death Penalty advocacy in Kansas City.
My 1L year, I participated in the trip to Detroit, returning to the city where I often volunteered during college to put my new legal skills to use. I volunteered at a local Legal Aid and Defender office, where I conducted legal research, observed legal proceedings, and actually cross-examined a police officer during a preliminary hearing!
This year I plan on applying for the Kansas City and New Orleans trips, although my applications will receive less preference because I already went on a trip. (Due to the limited number of spots, not everyone who applies gets to participate).
Many law professors seek paid research assistants, usually during the semester, but sometimes during breaks. My 2L winter break, I conducted research for Dean Farnsworth, a highly esteemed professor and dean, for a book he was writing about the Restatement of Restitution. The project exposed me to a new area of law, gave me research experience to talk about on my resume and in interviews, and earned me a few extra bucks.
In addition to research for professors, I’ve heard of law students working other odd jobs over breaks, legal or otherwise. I spent a couple of weekends first semester and one weekend over the recent break working at Wediko, a residential treatment program in New Hampshire for kids with serious behavioral and emotional difficulties.
I had worked there one summer during college and, after hearing they were hiring part-time weekend staff and wanting to work with youth, I applied. The three weekends so far have been some of the more meaningful experiences of my 3L year and law school. After spending my pre-college years working with youth, it was truly refreshing to spend time with the kids in New Hampshire, whether we were playing basketball, going to see Happy Feet 2, or playing a board game in the dorm. The weekends also provided a welcome escape from Boston and some extra money.