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What Are the Hours Like for Summer Students?

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A professor just offered to take me on as an RA over the summer. My plan as of now is to work as a summer student at a firm. The professor said that, if I'm willing, I could do the RAship part-time. It sounds like he'd be willing to accommodate my schedule, and he's definitely aware of the normal time commitments of summer students. For those of you who have worked as a summer student at a Bay St. firm (as a 1L or 2L), what were your hours like? Do you think that I'd be able to fit in a few hours throughout the week for the RAship? I don't mind working for a few hours on Sundays, so it would really just have to be, say, 4-6 hours over the course of the other 6 days of the week.

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I didn't do Bay Street but I summered at a Big Law firm in Vancouver, which I imagine would have slightly less hours if anything. 

There's no way I could have done a second job, I would not have had the time since I was averaging 60 hours a week. But it would not be feasible because you don't really have control of your schedule as an articling or summer student. Sometimes you'll randomly end up working most of the weekend, getting an urgent assignment at 6pm due the same night, or sometimes you might end up doing a bit less than 40 hours a work. Just depends on the needs of the lawyers. 

Edited by Starling

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I personally wouldn’t. It’s definitely possible in theory, but I think you’ll get burnt out quickly if it’s 4-6 hours over the weeknights and also a weekend day. I did a summer on bay st and I worked on average 8:30-6:30ish. Sometimes far less, but on a couple occasions far later too. It was lighter when I was doing Corporate work. It’s not fully predictable and it’ll depend on your practice group, but I think you’ll start to get frustrated when you have a lighter day and you still have to spend a few hours doing other work.

Edited by Notnotadog

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You will not be able to do both well.

In my 1L summer I worked at a very non-Biglaw firm and was also an RA. I worked evenings and a little bit on the weekend on the RA stuff and it was fine because I wasn’t working evenings and weekends for the law firm. The firm also encouraged the arrangement and was happy to let me switch over at 5pm and keep using their resources (ie. computer/internet/coffee pods) for a few hours before I went home, cutting out any commuting between tasks. 

I could not have worked a second job during my 2L summer in Biglaw. I needed that time off for myself. 

Edited by easttowest

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Don't do it. Its not worth the money or experience. If you have a bay st job locked in, just politely decline the RA position. If you don't have a summer offer yet, ask for more time to decide about the RA position.

I worked in a small firm over the summer and continued with my RA work - it wasn't fun and its something I regret. Its better to just have some time to enjoy yourself and its hard to predict how busy your summer student position will be. 

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An added perspective: some legal employers do not permit you to work another paid position while you're summering with them. That doesn't seem to have been an issue for the posters above, but something to consider. 

I didn't work another job but I did have a volunteer position during my summer articling (5-10 hours a week) and it was brutal. I was really burnt out by the end of summer and I felt like I couldn't get a break from "work" because even when I clocked out at the firm, I had other semi-professional responsibilities, deadlines, and emails to tackle. While my friends headed out to have fun after work, I had to go home and hunker down in front of my laptop. Do not recommend.

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Thanks for the tips everyone. I think I'll let my professor know that the position would have to be a super casual, work when I want to work sort of thing

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27 minutes ago, HappyJDStudent said:

Thanks for the tips everyone. I think I'll let my professor know that the position would have to be a super casual, work when I want to work sort of thing

As someone who does RA work, I'd gently caution you against coming across as too inflexible or demanding in how you do the work. Being asked to be an RA is a privilege and a sign that the prof trusts you. You're on their good side. Chances are, this is important to them and they are seeking someone who can do the work well and meet certain timelines. Unless the prof has no one else in mind, you may want to consider letting someone else have this opportunity.

Edited by Psychometronic
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4 hours ago, Psychometronic said:

As someone who does RA work, I'd gently caution you against coming across as too inflexible or demanding in how you do the work. Being asked to be an RA is a privilege and a sign that the prof trusts you. You're on their good side. Chances are, this is important to them and they are seeking someone who can do the work well and meet certain timelines. Unless the prof has no one else in mind, you may want to consider letting someone else have this opportunity.

I understand your concern. To clarify:

  1. This professor approached me. He didn't seem to have any specific project in mind. He told me that he'd find something that I can focus on, and that he mainly wants me there to critique his work and offer new ideas
  2. We have a relatively novel, but close relationship. He's supporting me very closely in my JD/PhD
  3. It appears that I wouldn't be taking anyone's spot. I believe that he created the position for me

Edit: To be clear, I will not use any of this as a reason to be "inflexible" or "demanding," but he came to me in such a manner that he seemed to be particularly flexible and undemanding.

Edited by HappyJDStudent
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14 minutes ago, HappyJDStudent said:

I understand your concern. To clarify:

  1. This professor approached me. He didn't seem to have any specific project in mind. He told me that he'd find something that I can focus on, and that he mainly wants me there to critique his work and offer new ideas
  2. We have a relatively novel, but close relationship. He's supporting me very closely in my JD/PhD
  3. It appears that I wouldn't be taking anyone's spot. I believe that he created the position for me

Edit: To be clear, I will not use any of this as a reason to be "inflexible" or "demanding," but he came to me in such a manner that he seemed to be particularly flexible and undemanding.

How is the JD/PhD? What are you doing the PhD in?

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@capitalttruth I haven't actually begun the PhD portion yet, but I'll begin the PhD in Philosophy this coming autumn. I'm enjoying the JD portion very much, and I expect much of the same in the PhD!

Edited by HappyJDStudent
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