Finances After Law School

Kimberly Hopkin ’19
Staff Columnist

It’s officially “that time” again. That time when you look at your bank account as the end of the month approaches and wonder, “Wait, I spent how much on grapefruit scented candles this month?!” If you know exactly what I’m talking about, you are not alone; however, you need to take advantage of our in-house UVa Law Financial Counseling Services. Even if you only want a little financial tune-up, this is your sign. Since we’re all busy, I thought I would save us some time by writing out the excuses in your head, and then explaining why they don’t make sense. 

“But I don’t accept financial aid from UVa Law, so I can’t receive counseling from the Office of Financial Aid.”

This is less of an excuse and more of a false statement. Every single student here at UVa Law can take advantage of the extensive group and one-on-one counseling opportunities offered regardless of who pays your tuition or how. Actually, even that statement isn’t broad enough because, after graduation, they offer lifetime counseling services for graduates of UVa Law, too. You don’t need loans, scholarships, or financial aid to qualify. 

“I’m not necessarily struggling; I just have issues predicting and controlling how much I spend.”

You need a budget, but that’s okay because everyone needs a budget. When you are gaining control over your resources, it may feel like you’re making big, sweeping changes. Usually, that’s because you are changing how you think about money and spending. Once you set a budget and learn to stick to it, it will feel as natural as your current spending habits. 

If you’ve never had a budget before, this transition period might feel uncomfortable. Many people feel like planning and executing a budget makes them feel anxious and worried. The truth is, they are anxious and worried because they don’t know about their financial health. When you do know the state of your finances, you don’t have to worry. Building a budget and sticking to it makes personal finances less stressful. 

 “I missed the last ‘Real World Finances’ series, and those topics seemed so broad that I don’t think I’ll benefit. I need help just budgeting week to week – forget about trying to buy a house or invest.” 

Well, there’s another ‘Real World Finances’ series coming up. And you’re in luck, because UVa Law offers one of the most extensive individualized, financial counseling services at any law school. They can teach you different budgeting techniques – including the acclaimed “envelope method” – and give you tips for how to stay on budget throughout the year. There are over 100 years of financial counseling service sitting at our fingertips – why would you not take advantage of that?

“Okay, I have a budget for the school year, so I don’t think I’ll need broad generalized help budgeting… but I do have a summer internship coming up, how do I pay for that?”

Our counselors have not only been working in personal finances for a long time, they have also been helping law students for a long time. For popular markets, they can tell you what to expect for rent and bills just by knowing the zip code you plan to work in. Do yourself a favor and book an appointment. At the very least, it’ll save you time looking it up yourself. 

“Look, between you and me, I’ve dug myself into a hole. It’s embarrassing how much debt I’m in and I think people who work in finance will judge me.”

Other people might judge you, but not this office. This team prides itself on advocating for each and every person sitting across the desk from them. The worst you’ll get is some tough love. Asking for help can be hard, but no one needs to know why you are meeting with the Financial Aid Team. Plus, all information is kept confidential. 

Ask yourself which is easier: struggling financially while constantly worrying or asking a paid, caring professional to guide you to financial security. That’s what I thought. 

“I don’t know how to reach out to the team to get help.” 

Email with dates and times that work for you. It’s that easy.