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Author Topic: moms and dads in law school  (Read 1333 times)

philosophia

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moms and dads in law school
« on: July 17, 2008, 05:22:11 PM »
Hello all:

I am an entering full-time 1L and have a toddler.  I just wanted to get some feedback from other parents who have either gone through a year or more of l.s., or are starting up like me.

Are you treating school like a full-time job, i.e. 9-5 kinda thing?  Or, are you going part-time?  Do you feel like your family obligations put you at a disadvantage?

For those of you starting, have you taken any precautionary steps before school starts, who is watching your child(ren), etc?

Hope this thread can help others like me who feel a little anxious about juggling two huge responsibilities!


   

saramhw

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Re: moms and dads in law school
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2008, 05:54:46 PM »
Congrats, first of all!  I remember being so excited to start on this adventure.  A little background info as that influences my answer:  I was 34 when I started (36 now) and I am married and have 4 kids.  I worked at the university where I now attend law school.  My kids are now 16, 9, 6 and 3.  Obviously, it is a huge advantage to have the oldest kid be so old.  I also worked on my undergrad degree for 12 years while working full time at the university, so juggling school, work and family was usual practice for me.  I was a straight B student on a B- curve and was in the top 25% firs semester, top 15% at the end of 1L and almost top 10% (19/183) at the end of 2L.

I did treat it as a full time job.  I quit my job at the university (I worked as a paralegal to the university's in-house counsel) and lived off my retirement in addition to loans & scholarship.  I did take my kids to daycare--a daycare that transported the school age kids to school.  I liked doing it that way because I wanted to have the childcare issue covered.  My dh works a M-F daytime job as well, so we needed to have childcare covered.  My inlaws also live here and help in a pinch as well as covering for emergency needs such as sick child when it's imperative I go to class.

Some advice--absolutely keep up with the readings/class assignments.  It's tempting to fall behind because there's not a whole lot of accountability about doing the work.  I also think it's good (for first year) to go ahead and outline as you go.  I think this helps to better focus your cramming for the final.  This also helps if you have a kid emergency around the time a deadline is looming because you will be keeping up rather than being stuck with 20 hours of work and a now sick kid.

My big thing, personally, is that I just did not make a big deal about being a parent.  I didn't ask for extra help or extra favors just because I had kids.  I also didn't use it as an excuse unless there was something absolutely legitimate.  Most of my classmates didn't know I had kids, much less that I have 4 of them.  I like it that way.

Crap, thought I'd have some real wisdom, but all in all, having kids or not, law school is hard and takes your directed effort and time to do it well.  I found that having a family and life outside of school had the advantage of pushing me to manage my time effectively.  One of my childless (and younger) colleagues enjoyed studying with me because there was mandatory down time--time the kids needed to be fed/bathed, etc.  So, in short, it's as manageable as law school ever is.

philosophia

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Re: moms and dads in law school
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2008, 09:16:30 PM »
Thanks for the encouragement! I love being a mom; it's challenging but fulfilling, to say the least! 

You are right about the childcare thing.  I am kind of in a bind right now trying to petition for a budget increase from FA so that I can put my little one in daycare at the school.  Luckily, he has been offered a spot (after being waitlisted), so at least there's that! All in all, i think you are right about the time management.  I especially liked your comment about keeping your personal life separate and not using your children as excuses.  It seems that those are the main reasons non-parents get sick of classmates with kids.  At least that's how I felt as an undergrad without children.

Hope to hear from other 'rents...   

OConnorScribe

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Re: moms and dads in law school
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2008, 11:14:39 PM »
While I'm not a parent myself, one of my best friends at my school finished 4th out of 185 this year despite the fact she was raising a 3-year-old with hearing problems and attending sign language classes with him throughout the year. She also managed to join a roller-derby team. Plus, she went the second semester without buying textbooks, borrowing ours when possible. And yet she managed her time, stayed positive and did very, very well ... enough to transfer to a better school.

So yes, anecdotally, I can say success in such a situation is possible. 
Pace '10

jacy85

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Re: moms and dads in law school
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2008, 11:42:00 PM »
http://butterflyfish1.blogspot.com/

This woman writes a blog, and is one of 3 hosts of a blog-roll for mothers in the legal profession.  You should check them out.

philosophia

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Re: moms and dads in law school
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2008, 12:07:16 AM »
Thanks to both of you! oConner- your friend rocks!  jacy- i will.

rohan

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Re: moms and dads in law school
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2008, 01:02:12 AM »
I'm an entering IL with a 1 year old. Altho I am going PT/evenings (at least for the first year. I might transfer to the FT day program next year) and not working, I am the primary care provider for our son. My DH travels about 40% of the time and his schedule is what adds a bit of stress to our situation. I have childcare set-up for 3 days per week and plan to use this time to study and go to the gym. Babysitters are pretty popular in our city, so I have a network of sitters that I can use for evenings when my DH is out of town. He otherwise works from a home office, so he is home early enough for me to leave at 5ish. I think it's important to have a good schedule knocked out and keep on top of things as they come. Like a pp mentioned, you have to be prepared for the unexpected (sick kid, etc) and not have it derail everything you've been working towards. If you're married, then I think it's also a good idea to be explicit with your spouse about the division of labor, who is going to the grocery, cooking, etc. I'm rehiring our housekeeper and my DH is a good cook who knows his way around the grocery  ;) so I'm in good shape! But... He's been busy completing an Exec. MBA program and hasn't had to do much in the way of house chores for a few years. I'm sure there will be an adjustment period.

As to whether or not my family obligations put me to a disadvantage, I'd have to say that I do not think so. I feel that I might be at an advantage for staying focused compared with younger classmates without family obligations. If I mess it up, it affects not just me but my DH and our son. I am hugely motivated to do well because at my age (35) this IS my do over and I can fully appreciate the ramifications of screwing up. Surely, there are plenty of 20-somethings without families that also understand this. However, in my situation, I am fortunate to have already had a pretty successful career during my 20s and early 30s. But I can honestly say that during those years I did not have the same kind of obligations that I do now. I could make all kinds of decisions with wild abandon and if they were bad, well.. it affected no one but me.

The other advantage that I feel that I have is with networking. Literally, just on my corner there are 4 attorneys. 3 are alums of my law school. If we count the entire block (both sides) there are probably 10 attys total. My entire neighborhood is like this and the moms.. we network. For everything. And so do our spouses.  ;D

Anyway, these are just some of my initial thoughts and the things that I keep reminding myself of as I prepare to be "The old lady with the kid" in my section! While it's good to be prepared, there's only so much you can anticipate, KWIM? Kind of like waiting for the baby to be born. You make all of these decisions about what you're going to do/how you'll parent and a lot of it is great -- and it gets you through the first few months. But after awhile you find your groove and it's probably a little different than what you anticipated and planned.

BarryLaine

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Re: moms and dads in law school
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2008, 02:04:54 AM »
Hey this is a great thread!  I'm married with two kids (4 1/2 and 17 mos.) and will be applying this fall (currently studying for the LSAT).  Just wanted to say I find you all inspiring.  BTW, what does "dh" mean?  "Darling Husband?"  "Designated Hitter?"  I'm an older guy (for law school) so I'm not to familiar with the lingo...  :)

jacy85

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Re: moms and dads in law school
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2008, 07:41:31 AM »
DH is dear or darling husband

just dot

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Re: moms and dads in law school
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2008, 08:50:14 AM »
Love this thread!

I have 2 small children and I'll be starting law school this fall.  I have enrolled both of my children in daycare.  My oldest will be in Kindergarten, and fortunately the daycare has its own bus to transport the school-aged children to and from school.  My mother will be available to pick-up the kids in the event they are ill or if I need to stay late for anything at school.

My plan is to treat law school like a full-time 9-5 job.  I will try to get as much reading as possible done on campus because there are just too many distractions once I get home.  If necessary, I will have more study time after the children are fed, bathed and put in bed. 

It is great to hear that other parents of small children have been successful.  I know that it won't be easy.  I went back to grad school with my youngest was only 3 months old and managed, so I agree that being organized and staying up on the material is imperative.  That's my plan! 

Hope everyone stays in touch.  It would be nice to share strategies and advice on what does and does not work for all of us.
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