Are you considering attending law school, but do not know if you can swing it and keep that full time job you have at a law firm? Let me assure you, it is possible to work full time at a firm and attend law school. But you have to be prepared. Just as a tri-athlete prepares to undertake an Ironman challenge, so should you prepare. Having done this myself, here are the top six things to know before you embark on this rewarding journey…
Organization Is Vital
When working with limited time, every minute counts. Setting schedules and planning your time is key. Before each term, look ahead. Plan your weeks and stick to the plan. A normal schedule will usually consist of working from 8:30am to 6:00pm and then going to class from 6:30 to 9:45pm. After class: cook dinner, review class notes and then go to sleep. Weekends will be devoted to reading and briefing cases for the week ahead.
Health and Sleep Are Essential to Success
When your day does not end after a full day at the office, sleep is often a luxury. While the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep may be out of reach, you do need to make sure that you still get a decent night’s rest. Be sure you listen to your body and don’t exhaust yourself. The schedule is grueling, but you still need to make sure you catch some zzz’s. It is very easy for your health and wellness to be put on the back burner with such a hectic schedule. Eat well, exercise, and if you can fit in even five minutes of meditation in your day, you will be well-served.
Sacrifices Are Mandatory
Whatever schedule or social activities you currently enjoy, once you start law school, they will cease to exist. You have to make sacrifices in every sector of your life. You may have to spend less time with friends or family. Sacrifices are inevitable, but take heart: it’s only for a limited time. It’s just a three to four year sentence with possibly some time off in the summer for good behavior.
Relationships Will Be Tested.
It must be said working and going to law school will strain all of your relationships - with family, friends, significant others. Keep in mind however, that although you won’t have energy or time for large gestures, you can do small things to keep those who love you from feeling entirely out of the loop - a quick note or text from time to time to let them know you are thinking of them can work wonders. It also helps to prepare those around you before the journey begins. If you do this at the beginning, they will be there celebrating your success at the end.
There Are Times Where You Will Want To Quit, but Save Time For Some Fun
Law school requires a lot of time and energy, but in order to succeed, you will need your sanity. Set aside some time for yourself. I scheduled all of my studying for weekends. But I made a point to reserve weekend nights to spend time with family or friends or just to have some time to myself to watch a movie or read a book – but, not a case book! If I included a few non-law-school activities in my week’s schedule in advance, I felt no guilt taking time for just me – it was all part of the plan!
You Will Have an Advantage
Being a law student while working in a law firm provides you with a great advantage. You will learn about abstract legal principles in class and then recognize the practical application at work. In addition, not only will you be familiar with legal principles, but you will know people working in the legal profession. These connections will serve you well upon graduation as well as throughout your career.
Remember, it will all be worth it in the end. Walking across the stage to get your diploma, you will be overwhelmed with joy. I know. I was. Not only will you have graduated from law school, you will have done it while working full-time. It will be hard work and you will make a lot of sacrifices, but it is all worth it. You will have a Juris Doctorate and no one can take that away from you. The possibilities are endless…
Saba Shakoori works at McManis Faulkner. She has extensive experience in handling complex business litigation and appellate matters. For more information, please visit mcmanislaw.com.