If you've applied or are in the process of applying to study an LLB, you're probably aware of how much debt you'll be putting yourself into. Course fees alone are £9,000 a year, and that's before you consider the maintenance loan you need to live on, and fees you might need to pay for the LPC or BPTC after you've graduated. For some, the maintenance loan provided by the government barely stretches to cover rent. For many new students, part-time work is the only option. But what do you need to think about if you're considering getting a job while studying for an LLB?
The LLB is academically intensive
Not to put down other degree subjects, it's well known that law is a particularly difficult course. You'll be required to do a lot of reading outside of your lectures and seminars, so although your scientist friends might be in the lab 9–5 every day, you could end up studying for significantly more hours.
Of course this means you have a lot more flexibility of when you can work – unlike students who are required to be in lectures all day, as a law student you can fit employment around your 12 (or so) contact hours.
You will need to remember that your academic performance is important. It's not just about whether or not you have time to fit a part-time job into your degree, but you'll have to consider if you're really doing the best work you can – on both sides. You'll realistically need at least 2:1 if you want to get a training contract, with pupillages being even more competitive academically. Your boss also isn't going to be very impressed if you shirk your responsibilities at work to catch up on reading.
Valuable work experience
There are more advantages to working a part-time job at university than simply the cash dollar. Balancing a job and your uni work will be very impressive to future employers and show your organisation and time-management skills. You'll also develop a wide variety of skills that could help you in your law career, such as communication and leadership.
If you're uncertain about what you want to do when you graduate (not all LLB students end up as lawyers!), getting some real-world work experience might help you figure it out.
However if you decide to take on non-legal work experience, the time you have left for legal work experience becomes somewhat limited. Lots of students will take on pro bono work or shadow a lawyer during their degree, and if you have to work elsewhere instead you might miss out on these opportunities.
There is a way that you can combine legal work experience and earning money though: vacation schemes. Law firms offer paid experience at their companies to students, and often recruit their future trainees from particularly impressive vacation schemers. If you're just looking for a bit of extra spending money over the holidays, these schemes are perfect.
Job opportunities on campus
If you're absolutely certain that you need/want a part-time job alongside your studies, it might be worth considering a job at your university. Many union cafés and bars recruit their own students, often paying much fairer wages than external companies and being somewhat more lenient when it comes to academic requirements. This would also mean that you'll be near to your lectures or the library... So you'll have no excuse to sack your reading off to watch Netflix.
Your university careers service will also probably be able to help you find a job elsewhere if you're stuck – they're not just there to help you with your graduate plans! They'll also probably be happy to help you with your CV and applications, but for more information on these subjects, why not check out AllAboutCareers.com?
If you're really convinced you won't be able to manage financially at university without a job, and are worried about the workload of doing a degree and a part-time job, it might be worth considering doing your degree part-time. This obviously means that it'll take longer for you to get your degree, but you'll have less debt that your full-time student peers.
Making a decision
Whether or not you can manage the LLB and a part-time job is only something you can figure out for yourself. If you've successfully held down a job since GCSEs, you'll probably be able to continue once you get to uni. If you've never had a job in your life and have struggled to keep up with the work required of you at school, it's probably a bad idea to try it out now.
You could always start a job in your first year of university, when there's less academic responsibility, and see how you go on. You're not signing up for a job for life, and if you find you're struggling there's nothing wrong with quitting!