How to make (more) money in law school

By Alexandra Sumner

Let’s be honest: scholarships and student loans aren’t going to cover everything. Your car could break down, your laptop could shatter, there might be a sale at Sephora — the world is a dangerous place.

Below are some flexible job options that can help you pay the bills, fix your car, and maybe even “treat yo ’self.”

Be a research assistant. Law professors typically specialize in one of three things: (1) teaching, (2) researching, or (3) schmoozing at fancy parties. Help them churn out papers by working as a research assistant. The work isn’t glamorous, but it’ll pay the bills.

Typical assignments include: translating documents (if you speak a second language), reading and cataloging research, attending trials (if applicable), editing documents, and even generating content.

Working as a research assistant is a great way to connect with an esteemed professor and gets meaningful experience on your resume. If a well-known professor offers you a research position, take it. 

Babysit.  Listen, I’m not a kid person, but if you are (or you’re just desperate enough) find a babysitting gig. Ask around to see if anyone is looking for a sitter or sign up through a local church or job posting board.

For the most part, it’s easy money: you just entertain a kid for a few hours before they go to bed. Maybe watch a few Disney movies and order a pizza. Once the kid goes to bed, work on some homework until the parents get back; low-stress, low-availability, low-maintenance.

Walk dogs. Dogs are better than people, it’s a fact. When you’re frustrated with homework, gunners, and overzealous professors, take your mind off it all by taking Fido out.

There are plenty of apps you can sign up on to be a dog walker — you can even set your availability and location!  There’s a reason therapy dogs exist: sometimes we all just need to escape from other people.

If you have more than just a few scattered hours of availability each week, consider taking this a step further by working as a pet or house sitter. For one thing, sometimes you get to sleep there. For another, it typically pays more.

Work at the library. Talk about killing two birds with one stone. If you work at the library, you’re usually allowed to sit and do homework until someone needs you. How awesome would it be to get paid to study?

Now obviously you wouldn’t get to read your entire shift, but any little bit helps. In addition, by working at your school’s library, you would have an expanded knowledge of what tools and resources it has to offer — helping you with any future research assignments or questions of law. It pays to be well informed.

Tutor. Are you really good at math? (If so, why’d you go to law school?) Do you love editing essays, or just want to help someone improve their LSAT score? Be a tutor!

Tutoring is a great way to earn some quick cash: figure out your skill set, determine your rates, and start advertising. Check if your school has a student posting board: people are usually buying and selling things (laptops, rooms for rent, textbooks) but it’s quite common for people to advertise their various services on there as well.

I once saw a woman advertise her manicure services with the line, “Need a manicure between classes? I’ll come to YOU!” While you may won’t have to carry a case of nail polish across campus, you will make genuine connections with people outside the law school, which is always a win.

As I’m sure you know, your primary focus should be on studying. Yes, new shoes and vacations are expensive, but so is re-doing an entire semester of law school. Small sacrifices can lead to big victories.

Alexandra Sumner is a recent graduate of Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis.