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Are You Going Broke Applying For Jobs? 3 Easy Things You Can Do To Save Money & Time & Still Get the Job

Written by Brett McKay

Right now, it’s interview season for law student across the country.  During the first week of school, I was busy sending out resumes, cover letters, and transcripts. What I discovered during the process is that sending that stuff out gets expensive when you have to buy paper, envelopes, and postage. It also takes a lot of time. In the high stakes game of law school, you often don’t have enough time in the day to fit in sending out resumes. Here’s a list of 3 things I learned during the process of sending out resumes that can help save you time and money.

  1. Don’t buy the fancy resume paper. Most people think that if you want to get the job, you have to get the nice thick marbled resume paper. This stuff can cost something like $13 a box for 100 pieces of paper. While $13 isn’t that much for 100 sheets, I wasn’t planning to send out 100 resumes. I sent just out 9 to different firms in Oklahoma City. So those nine pieces of fancy resume paper would have cost me about $1.44 each. (That’s $13 divided by 9). No way The Frugal Law Student was going to do that! I just use the normal white printing paper my school has in the library. It was free (I guess it wasn’t technically free, my tuition paid for it), and it was convenient. “But Brett, won’t printing on just normal paper leave a bad impression with your future employers?” I haven’t had a problem with it. In fact, I’ve heard that many employers prefer just normal paper because it copies better. When you send your resume in, employers are going to make copies of it. When the background is some marbled, ivory color, it doesn’t copy as well. Also, white paper makes reading text easier. Employers skim resumes, so making your resume as easy to read as possible will them out. So just stick with normal white printing paper. You not only save time, but you also save money. Also, consider making a PDF file of your resume. Most of the firms that contacted me asked that I send them my resume electronically so they can easily distribute it to the attorneys that I’ll be interviewing with. You never know what kind of word processing program other people are using. Because PDF is universal, you won’t have to worry about someone not being able to open up your resume. Being able to create a PDF also shows you’re tech savvy, which is a plus when looking for a job. I use CutePDF to create my PDF files. It’s free and super easy to use.
  2. Buy envelopes in bulk. Last year when I sent resumes out for summer internships, I would just buy manila envelopes as I needed them. But the problem was that each package cost $5 and only had 5 envelopes. Not only did I use these envelopes for resumes, but I would also use them to send books to people on Amazon. It started adding up quick. What I did during the summer is I bought a box of 100 Office Depot Brand manila envelopes for $7. I’ve used almost half of them already. I’m sure I’ll use them up by the of the year. Let’s say I’ve used 50 envelopes so far in the past three months. That comes out to around $.14 an envelope. That’s much better than $1 per envelope I was paying before. I’ve also saved time because I don’t have to drive to the store anymore when I need an envelope. I just go to the closet where I keep them, pull one out, and address it. Easy.
  3. Buy printable labels. I didn’t do this, but I wish I did. Instead of addressing your envelopes by hand, just buy a package of printable address labels. You can get a good deal on these if you buy them in bulk. Like manila envelopes and unlike the resume paper, you’ll actually use these latter on, so it’s worth it. You’ll save yourself a ton of time by doing it. Plus, it just looks better than handwriting. I had to spend a lot of time carefully writing the address of 9 different firms. I wanted everything to be nicely centered and clearly legible. Let the computer do that for you.

There you go. Those are my three things I learned during the job application process that can save you money and time. What do you all do to save money when sending resumes out? Drop a line in the comment box and add to the conversation.

How the College Cost Reduction and Access Act Affects Law Students

Written by Brett McKay

This is a guest post from Philip G. Schrag, professor at Georgetown University Law Center

[Yesterday] morning, President Bush signed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 (H.R. 2669), which includes two provisions that will make it much easier for law students who graduate with high educational debt to have long-term public service careers.  The bill includes a section creating an income-based repayment (IBR) plan that enables graduates to make much smaller monthly payments when their incomes are low: the IBR formula caps repayment at 15% of (AGI minus 150% of the federal poverty level).  Interest not paid because of the IBR limit is capitalized for later payment, but if any funds are still owing at the end of 25 years, that amount is forgiven by the federal government.

Even more important, if the borrower spends ten years in full-time public service while paying through IBR, the remaining debt is forgiven at the end of those 10 years rather than 25 years. The new law defines public service in terms of a long list of types of jobs, plus a catch-alls that include all government jobs and all employment by all 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations.  Loans that qualify for IBR payment and forgiveness include nearly all the loans that most law students use: Stafford loans and Grad PLUS loans, whether they are government-guaranteed or government-extended.  If the borrower has government-guaranteed (FFEL) loans, they must be consolidated into a federal direct consolidation loan before a repayment counts toward the ten years of IBR repayment before forgiveness occurs.  For federal direct loan recipients or those who have consolidated into federal direct consolidation loans, the ten years can start on Oct. 1, 2007, but the IBR formula doesn’t start until July 1, 2009.  Meanwhile, graduates may use income-contingent repayment (ICR), which also qualify for forgiveness.  ICR payments are higher than IBR payments but much lower than standard ten-year repayment requires.

I have written an article for the Hofstra Law Review explaining this new law in depth and criticizing two of its features.  It is posted at http://www.law.georgetown.edu/news/releases/documents/Forgiveness_000.pdf and also on SSRN at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1014622

Students and graduates may compute exactly how the law will affect them by consulting the calculators at http://www.finaid.org/calculators/ibr.phtml (IBR) and http://www.finaid.org/calculators/icr.phtml (ICR).

Philip G. Schrag

Georgetown University Law Center


7 Tips To Getting Things Done In Law School (And In Life!)

Written by Brett McKay


To say law school is hard is an understatement. Not only is it intellectually challenging, it is a huge time commitment. I have classes, reading and writing assignments, outlining, job interviews, extracurricular activities, and (somehow) a social and family life to cram into one week. Sometimes it feels like I can never get it all done. But success in law school requires me to get as much of it done as I can. That’s why effective time management is the key to law school success. Here’s a list of 7 things you can do to help you manage your time more effectively in law school and in your life.

  1. Get a planner or calendar. You can’t get by in law school without some sort of calendar or planner. There are tons of options for one to choose from. You can go with a paper based system or a digital one. Each one has their pros and cons. You can find good paper based planners at any office supply store or you can make your own like I did. If you want to go digital, Microsoft Outlook, iCal for Mac, and Google Calendar are great applications for planning. Find what works for you.
  2. Plan and review weekly. After you get your calendar, pick a day each week to review the past week and plan the upcoming one. When you plan, first start with scheduling “hard” appointments. These are items that you have to go to like classes, interviews, or Dr. appointments. Second, plan when you’re going to read each day. Set aside enough time to finish the assignment. Third, plan when you’re going to outline and review notes. Finally, plan when you’re going to work on any writing assignments. At the end of the week, review what you got done, what didn’t get done, and how you can improve next week.
  3. Plan and review daily. Because you’ve already planned your week out, daily planning shouldn’t take that long. It’s basically to review what you got going on that day so you can prepare yourself accordingly. You’ll also be able to make changes to your plan if circumstances have changed.
  4. Write everything down. Don’t trust your brain to remember assignments. Always write things down. Create a place where you can collect information in one spot. If you have notes everywhere, your brain has to remember where you put each one. It does you no good to write things down if you can’t remember where you wrote it down. If you use a planner, that’s a perfect place to collect information. If a planner isn’t your thing, carry around a couple of 3×5 index cards in your back pocket. Whenever you want to remember something, write it down. At the end of the day, review the notes you’ve collected and sync them with some sort of calendar.
  5. Practice the 45/15 rule. If you have trouble with procrastinating or if the thought of reading for 2 hours straight makes you want to stab yourself in the eye, try implementing the 45/15 rule. What you do is make a commitment to work 45 minutes straight without distractions. After 45 minutes, reward yourself by taking a 15 minute break. Surf the web, go to the vending machine and buy a pop, or go talk to someone. After the 15 minutes is up, get back to work for another 45. By breaking up your time like this, you’ll avoid feeling overwhelmed. It also aids in beating fatigue, so you’ll be even more productive when you’re actually working.
  6. Avoid distractions. Distractions can kill any well thought out plan. Find out what your distractions are and kill them. Mine is surfing the web. That’s why whenever I need to get something done, I’ll turn off my wireless so I’m not tempted to surf the web.
  7. Read up on productivity and time management. There are tons of great resources out there on how to be more productive. Two great books are Getting Things Done by David Allen and First Things First by Stephen Covey. They’re both easy reads and filled with practical tips on how to be more effective with your time. On the web, there are tons of blogs dedicated to productivity and time management. Three of the best resources include lifehacker.com, zenhabits.net, and lifehack.org. Also make sure to check out Legal Andrew for articles on productivity from the law student’s perspective. I also write quite a bit about productivity here at The Frugal Law Student, so make sure to subcribe to my RSS feed.

What do you all do to get more done during the day? Please share with the rest of us!

Applying To Law School? 7 Ways To Save Money

Written by Brett McKay

This is a guest post from Ann K. Levine. Ann is a law school admission consultant and proprietor of www.LawSchoolExpert.net and http://lawschoolexpert@blogspot.com. Since starting LawSchoolExpert in 2004, Ms. Levine has helped more than 500 applicants gain acceptance to law school. Ms. Levine works one-on-one with law school applicants nationwide, calling upon her expertise as the former director of admission for two ABA law schools. She reviewed thousands of applications each year and was primarily responsible for making all admission decisions at Loyola Law School and California Western School of Law. She now uses this expertise to the benefit of applicants, helping them create applications that maximize their chances for admission.

1. Ask each law school on your list for a fee waiver. (But be wary of law schools that voluntarily offer you an application fee waiver)

2. Don’t buy the worst law school admission book I’ve ever read.

3. Don’t take the LSAT without preparing adequately for it, otherwise you’ll waste the cost of taking the exam, the opportunity cost of having missed out on the benefit of rolling admissions, and the potentially increased cost of having to sign up late in the game for LSAT prep courses. While some people are good standardized test takers and/or skilled at self-study, I’ve found that most law school applicants benefit from an LSAT prep course. Sometimes you have to spend money to save money.

4. Choose your schools wisely. Don’t waste application fees on schools that aren’t right for your qualifications and/or goals. Analyze location , apply to the appropriate number of schools, and choose some schools where your LSAT and GPA are at or above the 75th percentile for that school so you can (hopefully) receive some great scholarships and save some major money down the line.

5. Put 100% effort into the quality of your applications. Avoid having to re-apply to law school. Every year, I work with people who tried to apply the previous year and were disappointed with the results. Don’t let this happen to you – apply wisely so you don’t have to spend money to re-apply the following year, and you don’t want to delay the year of post-law-school income either.

6. Participate in one of my Free 1-hour Webinars. The next one, entitled “I’ve taken the LSAT; Now What?”, will be offered twice in October – October 1st at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST and October 6th at Noon EST/9 a.m. PST. Each webinar is limited to the first 15 registrants to assure that everyone has a chance to ask questions. To sign up, e-mail me at alevine@lawschoolexpert.net

7.Hire a Law School Admission Consultant. Seriously. Good advice is worth a lot. And that advice could save you from wasting money applying to the wrong schools, buying the wrong law school admission related books, taking the wrong prep course, using a letter of rec that kills you, submitting an inappropriate resume, and writing a trite or cliched personal statement. Hiring a law school admission consultant means doing it right the first time and saving money by increasing your chances for admission at more of the schools on your list, and increasing your chances for scholarships at more of the schools that admit you. Here are some tips for choosing a law school admission counselor.

Thanks, for that great post! If you’re interested in guest posting on The Frugal Law Student, please feel free to contact me.

The Frugal Law Student’s Free Soundtrack For Maximum Productivity

Written by Brett McKay

I’m always looking for different ways to maximize my productivity and effectiveness during law school. One of the things that I’ve discovered that helps is blocking distractions and stimulating my brain with productivity soundtracks. Depending on the task, I’ll listen to something that will help me focus my attention and get the most out of my time. Here’s the breakdown of my productivity soundtrack.

  1. Trance Music. I used to hate trance music. I always thought it was for a weirdos tripping out on Ecstasy and sucking on binkies. But I started reading on different productivity blogs that computer programmers listen to it while banging out code because it helps them focus. I gave it a try this past week while I’ve been writing my law review article and was surprised that it helped me focus in on my writing. The beats put me in some sort of zen like state that helps the words flow from my brain to the keyboard. To get my fix of trance music for free, I’ve created a trance channel on Pandora. Whenever it’s time for writing and research, I just open up my browser to Pandora and let the music play softly in my headphones. In about 10 minutes I’m in the zone.
  2. Nature white noise. When ever I’m reading or outlining my classes, I like to be a little more relaxed and not as jazzed up as I am when I’m listening to trance. So, I pop on my headphones and listen to some soothing nature sounds like a running stream and birds chirping. It’s the perfect white noise to keep me from getting distracted by people wandering around the library. To create this soothing soundscape, I use Atmosphere Lite, a free nature sound generator for your PC. Atmosphere Lite is pretty robust for a free program. There’s different premade settings like “woodland forest” or “fireside.” You can also create your own soundscape easily. I usually just use the running stream file. Atmosphere lite also lets you add binaural beats to the sound mix. Some people claim binaural beats can help boost learning levels. I’m not so sure about it, but it can’t hurt having them in there.

What is your soundtrack for maximum productivity? Drop a line in the comment box.

Don’t forget to enter into my Chambermaid giveaway! Contest ends September 13!

How To Get Law School Supplements On The Cheap

Written by Brett McKay

Long time friend and Frugal Law Student reader, Mike, asked this question in last week’s post on law school repayment programs.

“Did you use supplementary study materials? What are your thoughts on hornbooks and other supplements from a frugal perspective? They are quite expensive, but seem like a worthwhile investment. “

Great questions, Mike! I did use supplementary study aids extensively and still do. I don’t know if I would have understood the law as well as I did if it weren’t for them. However, they can get expensive. Here’s a quick list of some of the study aids that I used during my first year.

  • Hornbooks. In law school, you’ll mainly be reading a case book. Case books are designed to give you examples of the law, but often they don’t spell the law out for you. Hornbooks are like text books. They’re written by experts in a particular field of law. They tell you what the black letter law is, examples of application of the law, and also policy arguments in favor or against the law. I found hornbooks to be extremely helpful, especially in my contracts class.
  • Examples and Explanations. Examples and Explanations (E&E) are another amazing study supplement. First, they give you a great summary of the law written in plain non-ivory towerish language. But that’s not the best part. At the end of each chapter, the author includes several hypotheticals (examples) and answers to these hypotheticals (explanations). These come in handy for working on exam writing skills. At the end of each week, I would do all the examples on the topics we covered in class. By the time finals came by, I had literally written hundreds of short essays on different legal topics.
  • Law in a Flash. Law in a Flash are flash cards that include questions on black letter law. They also have short hypotheticals so you can learn how to apply the law. The hypos can be pretty funny, which helps in remembering law.
  • Gilbert’s and Emmanuel’s Outlines. These are ready made course outlines. I used these, but sparingly. Each professor is different and will test on different things. You want to study from an outline keyed to your professor. Use it as a supplement to your OWN course outline
  • Crunch Time Series. These are produced by Emmanuel’s as well. They’re basically condensed commercial outlines. What I found useful about them is that they offer strategies on how to approach different types of issues. They also have several practice multiple choice and essay questions.
  • Sum and Substance CDs. Sum and Substance are audio lectures. I would listen to them while in the car or while working out. I don’t think they helped me immensely, but it didn’t hurt listening to black letter law over and over again. If you do decide to use CD’s in our study program, speed them up on your MP3 player so you can get through them quicker.

How to save money on these supplements

  • Use the library. All of these supplements can be found at your law school’s library. I would often just check them out for an hour after each class to help me put together my outline. The cost to me is nothing. The only drawback is that you can’t mark them up. I love to make notes in the margin while I read and highlight. You can’t do that with library books, unless you want to get the stink eye from your librarians.
  • Shop online. If you’re the type of person who likes to mark books up, consider buying supplements used online. Amazon, Half, and Ebay always have law supplements for sell.
  • Take advantage of school organizations. One campus organization I belong to has a locker at the school filled with study supplements for its members to use. I usually check it out at the beginning of the year to see if there’s anything I can use.
  • Become a student rep for publishing companies. This year, I’ve started working as a student rep for  Aspen Publishing. Part of my compensation with Aspen are discounts and vouchers on study supplements. If you ever see any of these companies hiring student reps, jump on it. You can save tons of money on supplements.