Bar trips are a beloved rite of passage within the law school community. During these multi-week vacations, law grads celebrate completing the bar exam with jaunts to parts unknown before starting their jobs in the “real world.”
As the legal landscape has evolved, however, so have bar trips with many freshly minted law grads opting out of the tradition, according to a recent Above the Law report. Wondering whether a bar trip makes sense for you? Read on for a roundup of pros and cons.
The Pros of Taking a Bar Trip
While taking a bar trip may seem like an extravagance, the reality is that there are plenty of upsides to planning a post-bar getaway. These include the following:
1. A bar trip is a great way to relax.
There’s no denying that the months, weeks and days leading up to the bar exam can be extremely stressful. For many people, travel is one of the best ways to relax and recharge. If you’re gearing up to enter the workforce, a bar trip may be exactly what you need to kick off your career in the best possible mindset.
2. It doesn’t have to cost as much as you think.
While planning a luxurious vacation can cost more than you’ll earn in a month, there are plenty of ways to travel on a budget. From hostels and backpacking to staycations and “off-season” travel, you can keep expenses low while still gaining the experience. Or, plan a shorter, mini-trip. Even a long weekend can be an unforgettable way to reward yourself for making it through law school.
3. It may be one of the last time you can travel without any responsibilities.
Sure, you’ll get to travel in the future, but probably not without tying up a bunch of professional loose ends first. After all, no one would exactly refer to the life of a lawyer as “footloose and fancy-free.” The life of a new law grad, however, can be exactly that.
Enthuses one Reddit poster, “[Your bar trip] will be the last chance where you can simply drop everything for three to four weeks and have no distractions/worries throughout your travels. No need to plan around an unpredictable workflow/schedule, check emails while you're on it, worry about what people at work will think of you taking off time, deal with what to do with children (assuming you don't currently have any) while you're gone, etc...Many people will not have this type of luxury for the next 30+ years of their life, much less while they're still young.”
Echoes another, “Do it -- you will never have the freedom/time every again. It’s 100 percent worth it.”
The Cons of Taking a Bar Trip
But bar trips aren’t for everyone. In fact, they can end up causing more stress than sparing it in certain situations, including the following:
1. A bar trip may jeopardize your financial future.
Life is all about making financial trade-offs. However, if you don’t have the cash to pay for a bar trip and your don’t have a job lined up for when you return, borrowing money to pay for a travel adventure may be starting your life as a “grown-up” off on the wrong foot.
Says The Biglaw Investor, “The problem with a bar trip is that you’re putting off the process of getting your financial life in order. By delaying this ultimate reckoning, you’re tightening the noose around your neck. If you already thought working in Biglaw would rob you of your freedom, you’re really going to feel that way when you have a few extra thousand dollars on a credit card and more interest accumulating on your student loans.”
2. It’s not your last chance to travel.
It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of the bar trip as your “last hurrah.” However, as a lawyer you can expect to earn a decent paycheck and get decent vacation time, too. If you can’t afford to travel now, and if traveling is a priority for you, there’s no reason you can’t travel to your heart's content in the future when you’re in a better financial position to pay for it.
Plus, you may even be able to spring for the type of luxury vacation you can only dream about as a new law grad. And you won’t have to feel guilty about it either, because you’ll be spending your own hard-earned money.
3. You may be able to start working sooner.
Speaking of spending money you earn, why put off for tomorrow what you can do today? Depending on your circumstances and the type of job you’ve got lined up, you may be able to begin working immediately after you graduate. While we do recommend taking a least a few days off before starting a job, many law grads are eager to begin collecting paychecks sooner than later.
The ultimate takeaway regarding the to bar trip or not to bar trip question? While a bar trip may be a wonderful option for one law grad, it may not be a wise move for another. Evaluating these pros and cons against your own needs and goals can help you make the most informed choice.
If you’re a law student who opted in or out of a bar trip, are you happy with your decision? Let us know about your experiences in the comments section.