Law School: Definitely Not Undergrad

Law School: Definitely Not Undergrad

We made it through the second week of law school, this was our first week with both boys with us. I’m still loving it, but it feels more like two months than two weeks. Nonetheless, I’m getting the swing of things. I’m familiar with each professor’s expectations, my reading comprehension is getting better every day, and I’m making friends.

Last week I attended an interest meeting for a student organization called Street Law. It’s a global non-profit that puts law students in local high schools to teach Civics and help make law school feel like a viable path for students. If everything works out, I should be teaching in the high school near our house in a few weeks. I’m really looking forward to it. While I was working at the court house, it was astounding and disheartening how little most people knew about civics. I’m thrilled at the chance to make a difference with that, even in my first year!

It’s interesting how my perspective about school now is so much different from undergrad. We had our first Writing Center Workshop this week. The director has a Ph.D. in English Education with focus on learning theory, and we have nearly unlimited access to her. I was honestly gleeful at discovering that I had a resource of that quality to help me learn legal writing.

It makes a difference having already been in the workforce. It helps me stay focused and treat school like a job. During undergrad, school was something that was squeezed between full-time work, ROTC, and tutoring. Except for graded assignments, I didn’t do any work or reading outside of class. That’s not even an option for law school. Setting aside the probability of being kicked out of class; if I don’t do the readings, I would barely get anything out of class. Being able to get the most out of my classes is a lot more important to me.

One thing does carry over from undergrad to law school though, the strategies for success are the same. Granted, me and a lot of other people did well in undergrad without much effort, but there’s no way I could do the same here. Reading texts multiple times, staying a few days ahead of the reading, taking notes while reading, using a dialectic reading strategy like rhetorical reading, calendaring classes and assignments, getting assignments done early, and eliminating distractions while studying have been essential to getting everything done without the stress level getting to high.

Having a family makes a big difference too. They give me the drive to get there early every day and stay focused all day. I’ve worked countless 18 hours days; work itself doesn’t bother me, especially if I find it interesting. But now, 6pm is about the latest I can stay at school, especially if Bruce is with us. Much later and I don’t really get to spend any time my family before it’s bed time. Fortunately by the end of this week I was able to start leaving around 5pm, which is when I want to be able to leave every day, but also means there’ll be plenty of days I’ll be hitting the books again after everyone else turns in for the night.

I’m here for my family and myself. This is the means to a career where I can have work that is meaningful to me, provides financially, and gives me control of my hours. Even though I could use the time, staying at school all hours would be contrary to my reason for going. This is the beginning of my new career, one I chose primarily to be able to be present with my family. So now is the time to establish good habits and respect boundaries that protect family time. If I don’t do it now, it’ll be a lot harder to start when I’m back in the workforce, and I’ll have lost the purpose for starting this journey in the first place.