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Heading to ABA events on a budget

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Sara Sheikh
Sara Sheikh (left) participates in ABA Representative Training during the 2016 ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

One of the reasons many students hesitate to attend a ABA event is because, lets face it, law school is expensive and a lot of students are not aware of the benefits of attending the events. Students will typically try to balance the cost versus the benefit and when they look at the cost it seems to discourage the students to go.

However, there are many ways housing and transportation can be cheaper.

For example, for the ABA Annual in San Francisco I recommended AirBnB for people who were afraid of spending a lot of money to stay in San Francisco. People are not familiar with the fact that you do not need to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars at hotels when there are people who are willing to give you a room in their home and will treat you like a guest at a hotel (sometimes even better than that!).

I have personally used AirBnB in San Francisco and it an was amazing experience. I was able to come and go as I liked, I had a very clean and comfy bed and I was never disturbed (I actually felt like I had the whole house to myself). You just have to make sure that you comply with what the owner of the house wants. I also paid less than I ever would even at the cheapest hotel in San Francisco.

Secondly, the owners of the house are very nice and reliable people. The website gives you a chance to speak them before booking with them and you can view pictures and read reviews. Now since that takes care of the housing, lets talk about how to get to the destination!

Airfares can cost a lot depending on when and where you are going. However, there are many other alternatives such as the train, a shared Uber, and charter buses. One of the things I tried to do for the ABA Annual is try to connect with my lieutenant governors and see if they would be willing to all share a ride together. Even though the drive from Phoenix is a little long, they found that to be a great idea and were thankful that I connected the people that wanted to go but were afraid to see the airfare prices.

Another great option is the train system. Amtrak can take longer than a plane ride, but the price is much cheaper than an airfare. One of the reasons why I pick trains over a plane is because if you take the night train, you can spend the time sleeping on the train – that way you are not losing any sleep and you do not have to pay the amount close to an airfare. Another plus side is that you are more than likely to be able to use your cellular phone and not pay for Wi-Fi.

A third option is the bus system such as Greyhound, which is available across the US.

Lastly, I would like to discuss how to spend less on food while at the ABA events. The good thing about the events is that  there usually is food at the events – and it’s pretty good. However, when it comes to dinner or if you get hungry later on, and you want to something to eat, there are ways to save money.

First, I would like to suggest GrubHub; you can order food at your door. The food is reasonably priced and from great restaurants, the delivery fee is affordable, and therefore you are saving yourself the cost of traveling to the restaurant. If you are with a group of people it is easy to share the cost of the food.

Secondly, Groupon is also a great place to find great deals on food, especially if you are with a group of people.

Finally, a lot of law students are unaware that you can request a refund (partially, most of the time) or funding to attend these law school events from your law school’s student bar association. The process is very easy. However, every school’s processes differ from one another. For example, at my school we have to ask a week before the general SBA meeting, place a request, and explain why the school should pay for you to attend the event you are requesting for.

Do not be shy to ask your school because that is what SBA is for; it is there to be a voice for the students and to help them achieve their goals and dreams. If you feel like the event you want to attend will better and help your education and career path then they will definitely want to help you get there.

Hopefully, you found some of these tips helpful because I know they helped me cut my budget down whenever I traveled anywhere. I hope you spread these tips to other students and encourage them to attend the ABA events as well as enlighten them with the benefits of attending them.

Sara Sheikh Sara is the Law Student Division's Fifteenth Circuit Governor and attends Arizona Summit Law School. As a governor, her goal is to make law school experience a healthy and resourceful one before students enter into the legal profession. The goal is to strengthen the circuit so that every law school within the circuit is set up for success.