Along with reading files and making financial aid decisions, as Director of Financial Aid, it is also my job to help students organize their finances to reach their goals. That effort includes lots of individual counseling, distribution of (hopefully) useful information, and periodic presentations.
Last week, Mary Beth Wynn and I put on a presentation directed at 1Ls and 2Ls working at large law firms this summer. Roughly a third of our 1Ls, and most of our 2Ls work at law firms in the summer, so the turnout was high (free lunch might have helped too...) Mary Beth focused on the career goals of such a summer, while I discussed some of the financial aspects.
As you may have heard, Law Firms have been raising starting salaries. While this is (mostly) good news for students, it is important not to start spending this income before you earn it. The goal of my presentation was to help students understand how a summer job at a law firm can shape their law school finances, and to remind them they are still students. By living reasonably and saving as much as they can during the summer, a smart student can greatly minimize the debt for their following school year. Unfortunately, students sometimes fail to realize this, and use their summer as a time to live like a lawyer and buy unnecessary things. I remember my days as a summer associate, and it is certainly tempting to live lavishly after scrimping by on a student budget. Students who avoid this temptation, however, are in a much better financial position when considering the myriad pportunities our students have.
The powerpoint slides from the presentation are available online at http://www.law.uchicago.edu/prospective/financialaid/presentation.ppt.