I am creating this blog to talk about both law school and life, hence the title JD and Beyond. Balancing both can be difficult. In my quest to become a lawyer I must hold on to who I am as a person as well.
Many people want work-life balance. There is a desire in all of use to be productive, do good work, or contribute to society. There is also a need in all of us to build relationships with family and friends outside of work. This is no different for attorneys and soon-to-be lawyers and it is a common thing that law students consider when deciding where they want to work and in which area they should practice. It’s difficult when we try to actually achieve a balance between work or school and the rest of our lives.
Law school itself is busy and there are many pressures pulling students in every direction. Between reading for classes, preparing for cold calls, writing briefs and papers, finals, externships, clinics, job searches, journal, moot court, current employment, organizational involvement, and networking (overwhelmed yet?)… law school is difficult and constantly busy. Currently, I am taking 15 credits, doing an externship, outling and preparing for finals, working to prepare for my internship this summer, and participating in student organizations. Especially now that Spring Break has ended, the pressure has mounted even more. As a 2L, I like to think that I have a better grasp on how to handle this finals season and maintain what is left of my sanity, but I’ll see if I’m right as we get closer. The point is: law school is busy. With so much to do in law school, it can be difficult to find time to be anyone other than a law student (especially for 1Ls who are still adjusting).
Through all of this, law students must still remain human. There is no use in going to law school if you relationships break down because of it. While there is not time to constantly spend time with others, it is important to remember to spend time with other law students and especially to spend time with people out side of law school. Connecting with law students will help you network when you are at networking events at firms or are looking for contacts already in the legal field. Time with fellow students can also increase you understanding of legal topics. Most importantly though, it makes law school more bearable when you have friends to spend time with both in and outside of law school. Friends from law school have helped me with these things and more. I’ve planned events with friends for our student organizations, gone to bars and talked with our entire section, received helped moving into a new apartment, held Harry Potter Sundays over the summer, and so much more. It doesn’t make law school just more bearable. It can make some parts of it actually fun.
More importantly is maintaining contact with friends and family outside of the legal profession entirely. This may be more difficult for those attending law school in a place they haven’t lived before like myself, but that only means we must be more intentional about our interactions. This contact is what really helps us remember to be a people, a person, individuals. Law school often shifts our focus and the way we think entirely. We use latin phrases, we talk about important and fundamental cases, and we alltogether begin to behave differently. Law school forces us to focus on specific facts and forget what is unnecessary. Remembering how to be human is necessary. Even still considering our legal profession, whenever we must work with clients or those outside of the legal field, we need to remember that they have not had out training and may not follow our same processes. They are actual people who have not gone through law school. They don’t need to hear the entire reasoning behind whatever legal concept is relevant to their issue. They just need to know how it impacts their lives.
There is more than this still. Remaining human is important to our health. Friends and family outside of law school can help keep us grounded. They can remind us of the important things about humanity and to enjoy the little things around us. They can remind us to have fun and relax, listen to music, go for a walk, have a conversation for no reason other than fun. People outside of the legal profession, especially, remind us that other things are important in life, that is, what it is to be human. We need these relationships.
Balance is important for all of us. It may be more difficult when your work is time consuming and you are busy, but it is during these times when it is most important. We need relationships for support and love and health and happiness. We need to remember what it is like to be a regular person. As I continue my degree and become a lawyer, I must also continue my efforts to remain human.