Working While in Law School

“Your number one job for the next three years is law school.”

I can’t attribute that quote because virtually everyone who advised me on my transition to law school said some variation of the same sentiment.  Most notably the American Bar Association, which prohibits working more than twenty hours a week during law school.

But despite the strong admonishments against working, the idea of not working and living entirely off my savings and loans was even more appalling. I’ve been employed more or less continually since I was fourteen, from babysitting to aerial decoration consulting (crafting balloon bouquets at a neighborhood party supply shop) to writing for my university’s newspaper and working in their Office of General Counsel.  It’s all about time management.  I calculated I could take around ten hours out of my sleeping/socializing/procrastinating timebank for some part time employment and still log respectable hours in the library.

I love working with kids so the childcare section on  BU’s job board caught my eye. What I ended up with wasn’t quite the standard babysitting experience I’d imagined though: I work two days a week with a teenage girl with severe autism, so I’m less a babysitter per say than a caregiver and companion. My work with Lu (I’ll use her nickname in the interest of her family’s privacy) is challenging but has been a really wonderful counterpoint to the high intensity of life in the law tower. After days packed with classes and studying, a quiet afternoon with Lu can be much better than sitting down for a few more hours of frantic case-briefing. And when I got home from the mini mental oasis of work, I’m usually better able to focus on those case briefs anyways.

Since she’s nonverbal Lu’s way of recognizing a friend is tapping their palm a few times. “Lu, give me pats,” I ask her when she gets off her school bus and before I leave at night.  She’s got a remarkably sarcastic sense of humor though: if I’ve denied second helpings of cookies or not let her pause to watch traffic as long as she wanted on our walk, she will sometimes condescend to give me just one pat with a single finger.

The hidden bonus I didn’t anticipate? Getting to know her parents and therapists and learn about Lu’s care plan is also giving me great insight into special education law, one of the fields I’m interested in exploring.

So am I making working work? So far I would have to say so good. I get some classwork done during her music therapy classes and flip though  flashcards on our walks when she pauses to scan the sky for helicopters (she has a deep fascination with helicopters and cement mixers). Having a weekly commitment is tricky when classes are rescheduled or networking events come up, and does mean I make it to very few bar reviews, but overall I’m striking a balance.

 

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