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law school mamas?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

hi there, 

i am planning to begin law school this fall and i would love to hear from any mamas who have done this.  we have DD (14mo now...22mo when i begin) and DP may or may not work.  during law school we would probably conceive and birth a second child.  any thoughts, advice, reality checks, ideas, etc. would be greatly appreciated!

post #2 of 12

Where are you going to law school?  I think that can make a difference.

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

i have a full tuition offer at university of st. thomas (tier 3) and after the NY Times article about law school debt  (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/business/09law.html), i'm going with the cheapest option.  i'm planning on going into public interest law, so i would never be able to pay back $100,000 of loans!

post #4 of 12

Congrats on making this decision & on the full tuition scholarship!


I think having a realistic view of the finances is a huge first step when you decide to take on law school with a family. Unfortunately (or fortunately...) I had already started law school before family became a reality. I will have significant debt (and also plan to go into public interest law) and I sometimes regret having turned down a full ride to go to a higher ranking school. I'm actually really happy with the way things have worked out so far, but I also know that there would be a lot less stress and more certainty if I didn't have those loans. Anyway, sounds like you have that part of it covered, so that's good!


I think it's totally doable so I'm probably not going to be the one to give you a reality check. Except to say that you should talk to students now and career advisors if possible and have an idea and/or plan for what you want to accomplish during your time in law school. The time really does go quickly, so it's best if you can plan farther ahead. What I mean is, if you want to go into a particular area of public interest law, figure out now what you'll have to do to get there. A law journal? Research assistantship? What classes will you take? What clinic? And how will you find the summer jobs/externships that will best position you to start networking right away?


Because, while you won't have ALL the financial concerns that some of your fellow students will have, you do have a family and there's are still real costs for all of you (financial and otherwise). I think, the more efficient you can be (which... ahem... I certainly was not always...) the happier you will all be. Also, even going into public interest (and perhaps, especially going into public interest) you'll have to do well in your courses & activities to make yourself stick out for employers. Public interest can be very competitive, and while many fellowships and employers don't look at grades/rankings, many do. The reality check may be in the distribution of household labor between you and your DP so that you can do your best (especially during 1L).


I actually think law school is a great time to have a young family. When I think about my friends who are starting their careers and wondering when/where kids will fit in, I feel that while it hasn't been easy, law school is flexible enough to make it work well with young kids. Of course, they'll do it & be fine. But I'm glad that I've already been through it!


Good luck!

post #5 of 12

The one thing I would caution you about the full tuition, is to know exactly what it takes to keep it for all 3 years.  Getting, and maintaining a certain GPA throughout law school is an entirely different beast than in undergrad.


Law school will challenge you in each and every way - it will completely re-train you on how to think, what to think, and how to do things.  My first year was pure hell - and I didn't have a kid.  I actually just graduated from CUNY School of Law in Queens (a fabulous public interest school BTW) and with a kid there was no way to maintain my former GPA.  I still have a decent GPA, but I never would have been able to keep a scholarship.  I know several people who also were not able to keep scholarship money at different schools (and transferred to CUNY's cheaper tuition b/c of it) b/c getting and keeping a 3.5 or 3.8 is next to impossible in law school - particularly if you have family obligations and can't study around the clock.


I'm not trying to discourage you - but knowing what your financial obligation is if you lost the scholarship is very important as it could happen.


That said, going into public interest law is great - what exactly do you want to do?  I agree with t2009 about figuring out what internships/externships/clinic's you want to do so that you can plan for it.  Most public interest internships are unpaid, so you'll need to get fellowship money, or be able to volunteer in order to do them.  That is what made it impossible for me to get internships while in school, and now, while I'd love to go into public interest law, my first obligation is to put food on my ds's plate, and a roof over his head.  I can't live in NYC, work for $20,000/year, and afford life. 


First year is truly the worst - it is so hard.  Reading the cases is hard b/c you have to retrain your mind to think and see things differently than you ever have before.  I didn't think it would be that hard b/c I have a really high reading comprehension, but its not about that - its about seeing the rule, and understanding what in that case is going to determine the outcome of future cases.  Not so easy when you're reading something that was written 100years ago or more, in old english, and just in general makes no sense!  Then you have to figure out what is going to be tested, and how and study for that.


Also, most law schools are incredibly competitive.  I'm lucky, and the school I go to people are more than happy to share notes, outlines, and are happy to study together and share group study materials b/c its not a competitive place.  It's a place that we all work together to get each other through.  Most other schools people don't share outlines, work product, or do as much group study b/c its all about scoring the highest on the curve.  You'll need to find someone that you trust to share notes with occasionally, b/c there will be days that your child is sick and you can't go to class.  Your partner may not always be able to miss work so you can go to class if your child is sick - balancing family obligations with children is very hard.  It caused my grades to go down last semester b/c my son was sick for almost 2 weeks - I never would have been able to keep a scholarship after that!  I would also say, if you are going to have a child in law school, plan it so that baby is born in late May or early June.  Then you have all summer to recover from birth, and get baby slightly less dependant on mom.  I lost a semester when I had ds cause I could only take 6 credits.  We did BF for 2 years (he just weaned recently), but it was really hard to have a brand new baby and be in law school.  My professors were very understanding though, thank goodness, b/c my school's culture is like that. 


You're location reads Brooklyn, NYC, so that means you are moving far away for law school (or that your location isn't accurate which is OK too) - does your partner have a job where you are moving?  Do you have a place to live that is close to school?  With young children do not attempt a long commute - it will leave you exhausted, living close by is the way to go.  Do you have family nearby that will be able to help during final exam periods?  Finals are KILLER in law school - most schools the only grading mechanism used is one final per class, meaning that if you fail that exam you fail the class. 


Also, one last thing.  St. Thomas has a reputation for admitting everyone and their mom - and then failing out 25% of the class.  I was offered a scholarship to go there too - and didn't take it b/c they offered it to me without a personal statement or anything about me other than the my grades.  I thought it was really weird.  They were my "just in case no one else wants me, I'll go there" school.  Then I got my first choice, and I don't regret it.


Ok, bar study time.  be back later.

post #6 of 12

Hi! I am not on much but I'd love to try to keep up with this thread.  I am going to law school in the fall also, I have almost been twice before but decided to have a baby once (in 2003)  then last year I stayed to help my husband advance in his career.  After I'd deferred my acceptances or completely withdrawn from several law schools my husband got laid off and I got pregnant despite precautions.  So I am having a baby due in late May or early June which complicates things.  Therefore I had to choose to go to a lower tier school than I normally would have picked because of the in-state tuition and I did get better scholarship.  Dh will not be working when I am a 1L.  He will do the baby and child care which is why I wanted to minimize my debt load as much as possible and this option is going to work for us.  Fortunately, also, the school is pretty well-regarded and I have may connections in the legal field where i currently reside so I am hoping that by the time the economy turns around I'll have graduated and not be dealing with some of the problems recent grads currently are.  I plan on going into criminal law and the school I plan to attend has a highly regarded criminal defense and criminal prosecution clinic. .


Right now my biggest worry next to selling my house is getting enough breast milk saved up for the baby. I stayed home with my girls and didn't have to worry about the whole pumping thing. I'd like to ebf for 6 mos  and continue to bf as long as possible after that even if some feedings are formula.  I just hope I get a sleeper like my first baby!

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

Super~Single~Mama - I have a bunch of friends that either teach at, go to CUNY, or went to CUNY.  I actually just got my acceptance letter for CUNY the other day.  I know you're busy with bar study, but I'd love to buy you a coffee or a beer and pick your brain about momhood at CUNY.  I am happy to come to you if I can bring DD along.  I will bring a list of questions as to not waste your precious study time!  :)


About St. Thomas - the scholarship I got only requires a 2.0 which sounds do-able?  Do you agree?  The other scholarship offers I got require 3.0+ and that seems like too much of a risk to me.  DP is a teacher and she has a job in Queens that she loves, but we will move to Minneapolis if it will save our family $60,000.  Another $350/mo of student loans would be very difficult for us.  


From what I hear from my SIL (a 1L at CUNY) they just flunked out a bunch of folks, so that definitely freaks me out.  And the commute thing is a big deal.  If I go to CUNY we will be moving to Kew Gardens!  :)  


My plan is education law.  I have been a teacher for the past 10 years.  I'd like to work either a) with charter schools or b) with students ensuring schools are providing the services mandated by their IEP's.  I know a lot of people in the charter school world and I have already started reaching out to people that might be able to give me internships/externships.  But, it's good to know that I need to be more diligent about that.


About baby #2, I would definitely plan the birth to happen right before summer (lucky to be queer!) probably before 3L.  


Thanks, everyone for the info and advice!

post #8 of 12

I would LOVE to meet up!  And meet your dd :)  How about March?  LOL!  I can take a break sometime next weekend or the weekend after too.  CUNY is a great place to be a mom - they have a childcare center inside the school, with good teachers (although the director is a NUT, everyone else is lovely and patient and very sweet).  The one thing thats SO wonderful about CUNY is that people are so nice and caring.  I've always had friends offer to help with ds when I needed a little time after classes, or babysitting on the weekends.


The academic policy is TOUGH - but if you have friends who went there, you would have access to tons of outlines.  The academic support is also amazing - there is a set of teachers whose sole job is to make sure you pass and succeed in all your classes - they even sit in on the classes and take notes, so they can help you with your note-taking skills.  I would absolutely recommend it as a school - its HARD, but well worth it.  The community is not something you find at many law schools, and the dedication to public interest is awesome - the clinics are fabulous, and the professors are available, very nice (for the most part) and its just great.


I'm friends with all the mom's at school, and we've all formed a little community - I'm going to miss seeing them and the babies after the bar!  The school is moving to a more accessible location in LIC sometime in the next year or so, which might make your commute a little better.  I'd actually recommend NOT going to Kew Gardens b/c you have to take 2 buses I think - I live in Flushing, but once the school moves to LIC I think Jackson Heights, or Forest Hill's would be more accessible.


As for the scholarship, yes, a 2.0 sounds do-able, but if you'd want to move back to queens, your dp might want to keep her job - since getting jobs isn't exactly easy lately.  And, if you get internships in the summer with different organizations here in NYC, you are much more likely to have a job waiting for you after graduation.  There is one professor who worked at CUNY until this semester whose specialty is Special Education Law (I took his class last semester, and he said there is no such thing as Education Law, but there is Special Ed law - he's an administrative hearing officer for Special Ed cases), and all the current faculty know him, and would be able to put you in touch with him.  There are also several alum that are practicing in NYC right now - so great networking opportunities.


And, CUNY's tuition is actually cheap cheap cheap as far as NYC law schools go.  Anyway, yes, lets meet up sometime either soon, or after the bar exam, and chat!!

post #9 of 12

Congrats Evergreen! That's so awesome that you're pursuing something you've wanted to do for a while now! Does your school have some facility for pumping? Even if it's just a little closet? I pumped for an entire academic year & it wasn't fun, but with a student schedule it was actually a bit easier to do than with the interruptions of a work environment. Plus, I was able to get last-minute reading done in peace. But you, of course, need somewhere to pump! I think many schools are wising up to the fact that not all of their students are "conventional" students, so hopefully your school already has facilities for pumping moms, but if not maybe you can connect with other parents on campus (employees as well as students) to push for a pumping room/space.


Beth, something you said or super-single-mama said made me think of something to add. If you want to return to NYC to work & you have a lot of connections there, I'd seriously think about what that will mean for  your summer internships. DH & I moved across the country for 10 weeks last summer so that I could take an (unpaid) internship in the city where we'll be moving. I wouldn't have gotten my post-grad job it we hadn't done it (my employer is big on hiring folks who can prove they're roots) but it wasn't the easiest thing to swing. For us it worked b/c DH is currently a teacher & could take the summer off to move & take care of DS full-time. But it was a big move & a big adjustment for DS for such a short period. Not impossible, just something you have to plan for with your partner.


Also, if you are in the city where you want to end up working, it'll be much easier to get an externship that will really help you launch your career during the school year or just generally keep up with your contacts. 


Just some further thoughts... 

post #10 of 12

I hadn't thought about where I'd pump! Hopefully there will be somewhere. If not there's always my car then I can crank the heat and listen to CDs lol.

post #11 of 12
Originally Posted by Evergreen View Post

I hadn't thought about where I'd pump! Hopefully there will be somewhere. If not there's always my car then I can crank the heat and listen to CDs lol.

Talk to the administration.  In NY, employers are required to provide mothers with a place to pump until the child turns 3 - so there is a designated "Lactation Room" at my school, and they were happy to give the access code to students as well as faculty/staff.  It's actually pretty nice - fridge, rocking chair, desk, desk chair.  No windows, which is good when you're pumping, but it was a total secret. 

post #12 of 12

Bumping to check on everyone.


Any news to share? Scholarship info. coming in? Etc?

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