By Ms. JD Editor • August 20, 2021•Ms. JD, Writers in Residence, Law School
Everyone has a unique experience when it comes to their journey through law school. A quick Google search about “what to expect in law school” will give you 919,000,000 results. 919 million different points of view on what to expect, how to survive, or why you shouldn’t go. There are so many paths to finding success in law school…this is mine.
I was one of those people who graduated from undergrad and was completely burned out. If I never looked at another educational book, it would be too soon. I was over it. My parents made it clear that I wouldn’t just come home and mooch off them. They gave me an ultimatum: I had 2 months to get a job or else. I’m still not so sure what the “or else” part was, but I’m glad I never had to find out. Thus began the first phase of my post-college life.
Pause. Rewind. I always planned to go to law school. I was just extremely unclear on the “when” part. After about five years in program management and higher education administration, the “when” sucker punched me in the jaw. I was a wife, mom of a toddler, and a new homeowner. All signs pointed to this being the worst time to start thinking about law school, but I was determined not to waste any more time and decided to dive head first into “Project Go to Law School.” I spoke with my husband and we narrowed down my list of schools based on location (so he could transfer with his company). I deferred for one year, so that we would have time to sell our home and my husband could transition to a New York-based office. In that year, we sold our house, but we also decided to separate. I felt like everything was falling apart around me. Despite the obvious challenges, I made the hardest decision of my life and chose to move to New York, alone, to chase my dreams.
The first night was the hardest. I remember sitting in my apartment and feeling completely alone. I had no friends or family nearby – it was just me and my cat, Sierra. I cried myself to sleep that night. The next day, I gave myself a pep talk and said that I was going to prove myself (and some naysayers) wrong…that this was not a bad decision. I was never more hyper-focused in my life than I was in my first year of law school. I experienced so much guilt, but I kept telling myself that this was only temporary. My son finished pre-school and moved to New York the summer after my 1L year. I was met with more challenges as I balanced being a full-time mom and a full-time student. My social life consisted of small study groups and PTA meetings.
Throughout law school, I learned the true meaning of the old adage “It takes a village to raise a child.” My village was extensive – family, friends (new and old), professors, and Sierra (who doubled as my therapist). My village kept me sane and supported me when I felt like throwing in the towel, which was often. My professors were understanding when I brought my son to class because of a school closure (of course, I let them know ahead of time). In my large section courses, I provided my very active five-year-old with distractions – snacks and movies on the iPad. Sometimes it worked and sometimes he’d yell at the top of his lungs during Con Law: “There’s a fly on my sandwich” or “I have to go to the bathroom.” In my smaller sections, my friends babysat my son in the library and watched Good Burger so much that I was sure their brain cells were dying slow and painful deaths. The days were long and the nights were longer.
Graduation day brought an overwhelming set of emotions. Looking back, I knew I made the right decision. My dream of becoming an attorney to help people who needed it the most is what propelled my drive. My village kept me afloat.
The law school experience varies widely. Sure, there are shared experiences (from the Socratic method and really annoying “gunners” to Barrister’s Ball), but there are so many different perspectives. If you take nothing else from my journey, remember this:
- Do not underestimate the power of your village. You cannot do it all alone. Lean into your village and ask for help when you need it.
- Remember your “why.” Why did you decide to __________ (fill in the blank). Write it down and put it somewhere highly visible. When you feel like quitting or giving up, use your “why” as motivation to keep going.