Monday, October 7, 2013

Student Debt and the 20 Hour Rule

Thank goodness the ABA is proposing to eliminate Standard 304(f), the 20 hour limitation on employment of fulltime law students. This Standard, which requires law schools to assure that no fulltime 2L or 3L is employed for more than 20 hours per week (1L's are not allowed to be employed), has always been difficult to enforce. More importantly, it is a rule that requires fulltime students to finance their eductaions with loans, rather than income they can earn while in law school.

If a student can achieve passing grades, there is no ABA limit on how much time she can spend  working on a law journal, competeing in moot court, volutneering with other student organizations, or playing video games. It has never made sense that a law school must prohibit a student in good standing from working for money.

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What is the source for your assertion that 1Ls may not work? It is not in the rule, which states: "A student may not be employed more than 20 hours per week in any week in which the student is enrolled in more than twelve class hours."

I am not certain if abolition is such a great idea. I have a lot of 1L students who have told me that they are working exactly 20 hours a week. I think they are working now because they worked throughout college, and they did well enough. But I am concerned that some of them have miscalculated the type of commitment to their studies they need to make in order to succeed in law school. And in many cases, the amount of money they are getting through this work is negligible compared to the debt they are incurring.

Posted by: Jeremy Telman | Oct 8, 2013 9:09:55 AM

Jeremy, I agree we should counsel students on the rigors, and the time commitment of law school. I just do not understand why the Standards allow them to engage in any activity for more than 20 hours, except for paid work.

Posted by: Richard Gershon | Oct 8, 2013 11:24:36 AM

This rule is unenforceable and in recent years has been pointless.

For 90% of the students of the bottom 80% of law schools, 1L grades are not going to matter because OCI will be little more than a pipe dream. If they don't want to play the three year law review/cum laude game, they should be given the opportunity to attend CLE events, bar functions, internships, pro-bono work etc.

Posted by: Forgotten Attorney | Oct 8, 2013 5:18:56 PM

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