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Advice: Is a 1.5 hour commute each way for 1L while parenting 3 kids possible?

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Hi everyone,

I have been agonizing over a situation and thought it might be good to hear some feedback to see if what I am planning can be realistic.

I have three children aged, 17, 6 & 5.  I am currently a stay at home mom.  I have been fortunate that my husband has a good job; but it is a very physically demanding job so he comes home exhausted. He is in bed by 8:00 and leaves the house at 6:00 AM.  (I pretty much do all the running around with the kids during the week, and meals etc).  I should also mention that my 5 year old will be entering into K this year.

I have just been accepted to Law School and was very excited to attend, but attending the school would mean a 1.5 hour commute by car each way (total of 3 hours).  Class time and travel time combined would still get me home by 4:00/4:30 in the evening. (It is a PT program so it would be Criminal Law, Torts, Legal Research & Writing, and 1L class).  I am worried that it will be too hectic, and I do not want to set myself up for failure, but I am also a very hard worker and have overcome many life challenges, and have always been "non-traditional."  I was a single parent for many years with my oldest and worked and went to undergrad and did it all, but I have heard and read that law school is an entirely different ball game. 

I have read pages and pages of blogs and posts from other parents who are successfully handling the juggling of law school and parenting, but none of them mention what it would be like with a long commute on top of it.  Is there anyone else in this situation, or anyone who could share some thoughts??  Do you think it is completely unrealistic?  Thanks.   

What's "1L Class?" Is it a pass/fail seminar, or does it require a lot of time and work?

If your weekends are relatively free, your schedule sounds entirely doable. If you're taking three substantive classes, you'll probably be able to do most of your prep work (reading, case briefing, outlining, and legal writing assignments) on the weekends. To make effective use of your commute, you may want to consider listening to audio lectures to prep for class (e.g., Sum & Substance, Law School Legends). Generally, you can get audio lectures for free through your school library, or through the interlibrary loan system.

If you can, try to read some books about law school before school starts, and perhaps watch movies like Paper Chase to get a feel for what law school is like. If you're aware of effective study techniques before school starts, you'll be ahead of the game.

Can't the 17 year old take care of the rest? Heck, that's old enough to be a Marine, I bet she can handle driving a car and babysitting.

Before I say anything realize that I or anyone else on this board or others is nothing more than an anonymous Internet poster that knows nothing about you, your situation, or what is best for you do take anything you read on this board or others with a grain of salt.

I have gone through law school and it is demanding particularly first year. I went to law school with two people that had similar commutes but they took public transportation and could study on the train. They also did not have children and one of them failed out. Driving would be more difficult and raising kids that young with such a long commute will put a strain on your marriage and relationship. Whether you and your family you could handle that is a question only you can answer.

Also realize law school is competitive having to deal with this commute and children will put you at a disadvantage because many students will be in single in their 20's and will simply have more time to study and participate in school. Odds are you will not do well academically and going through all that commute and time away from your children would be discouraging.

People have dealt with more serious handicaps and thrived in law school, but law school and a brutal commute will put a major strain on your family.

One suggestion that my friend who commuted did for 2l and 3l was schedule all of his classes 2 days out of the week. He couldn't do that first year, but that certainly helped the commute aspect. However, he finished near the bottom of the class but did graduate pass the bar and is doing ok. So it can be done however finishing near the bottom made it for him to get employment starting out, but he did it.

Law school is a life altering choice and it sounds like you understand that, which is great. Neither I or anyone else can know what is best for you and you can't know how it will all turn out. If being a lawyer is a lifelong dream and you will hate yourself for not trying then go for it and you can be an example to your kids of pursuing your dream. If law school is something that sounds cool or seems like something to do it will likely not be worth the strain on your marriage and kids.  There will be a heavy strain emotionally and financially if you go. Also realize it takes 2-4 years for most lawyers to start earning any kind of substantial income. So it is more than 3 year commitment.

Hopefully some of that is helpful I am sure this is full of typos I'm using an I-phone while waiting for a flight. I sincerely wish you the best of luck whatever you decide.

I'm an optimist so my advice is you should try it and do your best not to fail. Not everyone gets accepted into law school so if you won't try it out you will surely regret it later. Maybe someday you could make a great lawyer, it would be a shame to pass this chance up.


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