By Anonymous • May 04, 2020•Law School, Curriculum and Classroom Dynamics, Other Law School Issues, Issues, Balancing Private and Professional Life
As I write this my palms are sweating, as I have never been so bold to put my opinions, let alone my writings in the forefronts. I am writing to discuss what I have penned, the "Atomic Female Law Student."
*I realized as I wrote this I do know an Atomic Male who works really hard with his wife to be active in the home and family- so this isn't just for women.
Atomic has a few definitions, relavent to this discussion is the one found in Oxford's Dictionary to mean: "of or forming a single irreducible unit or component in a larger system." The term sprung upon me after months of bouncing around my mind. What provoked so much thought was my realization that the law student profile has changed more than people are willing to acknowledge, and I believe it is going to change even more.
According to Washington University School of Law, it was the first to admit women, in 1869. It wasn't until recently, about 4 years ago did women enrollement in law schools (ABA approved) actually become a slight majority in the enrollement. While I have yet to research if there is any specific reason or theory why women are not pursuing legal education, I have a theory based upon my own experiences.
Women are given this belief that they cannot have a family and a career unless its a career that revolves around her family's needs. Those who chose to have families and THEN enter law school are essentially held at a disadvantage before the first day for their decision.
The entire COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted numerous inequalities with how students are treated when faced with "adversity." A glaring example are where the traditional students voice their unhappiness about having synchronious courses when they went back home to be with mom and dad. They complain it's hard and distracting, may I even say unfair. While those who have these obsticals have had them since day one. There are students who have families and make the difficult decision to temporarily leave for school- they have now returned home to be with family and everything is hard with the disruptions.
Some and I cannot stress this enough, I have noticed where I go to school where men are in law school. their wives stay home and take care of them, their kids and their homes. I don't want to judge these women at all, I think their partners should appreciate how much they do, and also show respect to those who don't have that support..
What is troubling that the Atomic Female Law Student, is a woman who cannot be further reduced but we are part of something more that fails to be celebrated or acknowledged. When we go to school full time we come home, we make dinner, we have quality time with our child, we do homework, we do bed time, we clean, we finally get to work on our school work, maybe get some sleep and start over again at 5 am. We sacrifice depending on the day something for another to maintain balance. We create schedules and itinereries in the masses. We move to each change that is beyond our control. We are expected to adjust more than other law students because we wanted family and to pursue additional passions.
It is next to impossible to balance a full-time legal career with marriage, children and regular trips to the gym. It’s no coincidence that the two women most recently nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court — now-Justice Sonia Sotomayor and nominee/U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan — are unmarried and childless.
I wish to read an article that encourages women to go for it all. I adentify as a realist and I struggle every day with grit, I have a great kid, I take care of my mom who is disabled, I have a wonderful partner in our home state waiting for us. I have worked all my life and I want more kids. I also want to do what I have wanted to do for years and that is to help people with legal issues.
While the traditional students cry for accomodations because they have no idea how to use the internet, a modem, a router, software; where they have never had to deal with an obstical beyond their control or deal with disruptions; we Atomic Law Students continue forth adjusted, watching as administrations bend so they dont have to struggle with things we struggle with every day.
I am happy with my administration, even though it sounds like I am not. They have taken many things into consideration especially from people who have had to work around life issues before the pandemic, like car crashes, surgeries, miscarriages, deaths...I think law schools need to take a look at those who struggle every day and encourage them instead of making them feel that their struggles leave them with two choices: take a leave of absence and home they readmit you or soldier on in your impaired state. Who is usually having the most impairments? Parents and women. Jo blow can skip for a hangover while we come to school after getting hit by a car and your child is life flight to a hospital.
I hope some day law schools will reinvent their views on students who are parents, we are more than you think we are, even if we aren't the ones you want to feature on the front of your brochures.