Renting Tips for 2Ls

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Image Copyright ASurroca (Flickr), 2012

By Sarah Eli Mattern

Most law students rent apartments in a continued year-to-year succession. Do you rent from June-June, July-July, August-August, ect? As a 1L, this time period doesn’t really make a difference. Renters, however, should mark their calendars for the bar exam during their 2L year.

Here’s what I mean:

Shorter Leases -  Where do you plan on studying for the bar exam? Your hometown? Great – then you probably don’t need a 12 month lease during your 3L year. For example, if you normally sign a lease in which runs August-August and you plan on moving home for bar prep, then you only need a 9 month lease during your 3L year.

Longer Leases - Okay, so you plan on studying for the bar in your own apartment. Where do you plan to live while you’re waiting on your results? Some states release their results as late as November. So between July and November, when you may or may not be working and you are definitely running low on cash, you were planning on renting a U-Haul, putting down a deposit, and paying your first month’s rent somewhere new? Or maybe you were going to just sign another lease where you currently live, but what if you get a job offer in another city? Then you have to break a lease after only a couple of months.

You get the picture. You may want to consider getting a 15 month lease. This time period could take you through bar prep, bar results, and give you time to apply to jobs in all the cities where you are interested, without locking you into a year-long lease.

Other Options- If you have already signed a lease for your 3L year, talk to your landlord. My lease was scheduled to end two days after I took the bar exam (a fact of which I never noticed until I was knee-deep in bar prep and already frantic about the bar exam). Luckily for me, the apartment complex where I lived had a policy of allowing renters to extend their lease up to two weeks (at the same pro-rated rent price of their lease and not the month-to-month price), so long as the complex was given 60 days notice. The additional two weeks didn’t allow me the flexibility that a 15 month lease would have, but it did make it so that I didn’t have to rush home after the bar exam and back-up my entire apartment in 48 hours.

Whatever you choose to do, the important thing is to plan ahead. The bar exam is like an object in the right rear view mirror, it is closer than it appears.


For more bar exam tips, stay tuned to our twitter page @StudentAppeal and if you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments!!