Law School with kids?

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rdcws000
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Law School with kids?

Postby rdcws000 » Thu May 27, 2010 11:47 pm

I'm a PT admitted student planning on starting school this fall.

My wife is supportive but her main concern is the time I will spend away from our kids. I am concerned about it to. We have a 10 yr old and a 3 yr old.

Are any of you attending school with kids? Are you finding time to do the things you used to do?

I am not naive enough to think I will have the same amount of time, but I imagine the PT workload will at least allow some weekend activities. I feel like this experience will be a positive example in the long for my 10 yr old son, to see his dad work hard towards a goal, and I will have graduated by the time he is in the middle of his junior high years.

Is this selfish? Should I hang it up, be satisfied with the career I have and devote myself to being a good dad?

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MURPH
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Re: Law School with kids?

Postby MURPH » Fri May 28, 2010 4:02 am

Many law schools have clubs for students with kids or for older law students, many of who will be married with kids. It is probably a good idea to get your wife to meet other spouses of 1Ls. That is my plan.
Other than that I would make a habit of doing one thing per day with them everyday. It could be getting them up, ready and driving them to school in the morning or it could be sitting down for a family dinner, like families used to do in the olden days. Maybe help the older kid with homework and read a bedtime story to the small one.
Just don't over do it. Don't volunteer to be the football coach or encourage your wife to get a job working evenings. Basically, I expect this to be a problem for one year. After 1L the habits will be set plus you won't be doing as much busy but unproductive studying as you learn what works and what doesn't.
If at all possible live near your school. Every minute you spend commuting is time wasted.

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mbw
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Re: Law School with kids?

Postby mbw » Fri May 28, 2010 7:49 am

I'm just finishing up my first year (full-time) and I have four kids, ages 7 to 13. I'm not going to lie and say it was easy -- but it would have been 10x harder without a very supportive spouse (who went through 1L himself years ago, so understood the time and energy requirements.) Being organized, really organized, is very important, as is finding the a place to study without distractions. Be prepared from some pushback from your kids -- they don't know realize how hard all this is -- they only know you're not there as much as you were before, and you're crabby/stressed more. But you can make time for them -- just get used to planning your activities and your study time -- treat studying like a second job, and realize that if you don't show up for it, you won't get paid, e.g., decent grades.

Good luck!

Jerzeegirl
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Re: Law School with kids?

Postby Jerzeegirl » Fri May 28, 2010 8:18 am

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Last edited by Jerzeegirl on Thu Jul 01, 2010 3:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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rdcws000
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Re: Law School with kids?

Postby rdcws000 » Fri May 28, 2010 8:45 am

Very helpful feedback.

Thank you.

AsylumPB
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Re: Law School with kids?

Postby AsylumPB » Fri May 28, 2010 9:32 am

I can't speak from experience, but have talked to several students at the school I will be attending that have children and plan on following their advice. Basically, they treat their time at school like a job. Show up early to the library and study before class, then study between classes and a little after class. They said that they usually are at school from about 7 am to 4-5 pm. Most leave around 4:30 to beat the rush hour traffic home. Then they go home and spend time with their children (sit down dinners for most and maybe a little play-time or a special tv program) and once their kids go to bed they read for an hour or two before going to bed. I am sure that everyone's schedule will be a little different, but this is the model I plan on following.

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The Kid
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Re: Law School with kids?

Postby The Kid » Fri May 28, 2010 10:09 am

Hi guys,

I'm an 0L and so add to your concerns that I still haven't decided which location could best serve the needs of my family. Would you talk about the cities you're attending school at and where in the neighborhoods you chose to live?

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DelDad
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Re: Law School with kids?

Postby DelDad » Fri May 28, 2010 11:48 am

Just graduated from Penn, kids 11 and 8. I live 80 miles from school b/c of my wife's career and I commuted by car daily. It was doable, but really difficult, and would have been impossible without my wife rearranging her schedule to make things work. My son, in particular is really glad that law school is done, and I won't pretend it was easy for him. Good news was, I was able to coach soccer and be a much more normal dad during 3L.

Advice:
1)Commutes are killer; if you can avoid one, do so. If you cannot, try to live on a commuter rail line, and get good at doing work on the train. If you can't do that either and need to drive, you have my sympathies. In that case, become familar with the Sum & Substance and Gilbert audio CDs for your first year classes and other popular classes. The commuting time is still less productinve than studying at home, but you can make the most of it with the CD lectures.
2)It's really hard to treat 1L like a job with defined hours. Some people can do it, others (like me) needed a little time to settle into this, and at some points, especailly when legal writing picks up, there just too much to do. Instead, carve out some time during the evenings and weekends that is sacrosanct family time, and let your work fill in times when others in the household are either busy or sleeping before you fill up blocks of time when they are around and active. If you can wake up an hour earlier and get Contract reading done before the kids get up, they don't even see it (The advantage of early morning over late night, at least for me, was having more time with my wife). Like I said, some weeks, law school will take over, and you sort of have resign yourself to that occasionally, but that won't happen most weeks.
3)Related to this, as said above, make good use of your time at school: work through lunches and between classes, and try to take as little home as you can.
4)Your learning curve for learning to work smarter in preference to harder needs to be steeper than for students with fewer responsibilities. Get good outlines from 2Ls and 3Ls who had your professors ASAP. I found that opening these outlines in Word, turning on the track changes function to add my notes to the outline, and then revewing my additions later in the day (to decide whether what I wrote deserved to stay in there) worked very well. There are other study tips around the site; just concentrate on figuring out what works for you, and go with it.
5)Make an effort to be involved at school socially, and not only with other parents.


As for cities, can't say too much, becase we didn't move. But, if you were moving to Philly and had school age kids, I would look at renting an apartment in one of the Mainline communities on the R5 commuter rail: you will have a bit of a ride, but the train is reliable and easy to work on, and those communities have some of the best public schools in the state.

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mbw
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Re: Law School with kids?

Postby mbw » Fri May 28, 2010 12:06 pm

The Kid wrote:Hi guys,

I'm an 0L and so add to your concerns that I still haven't decided which location could best serve the needs of my family. Would you talk about the cities you're attending school at and where in the neighborhoods you chose to live?


Ithaca, NY -- very family-oriented neighborhood off The Hill, but still within easy walking distance of the law school. We live across the street from the school two of my children attend (eldest is unschooled, another attends a schools ten or so blocks away which handles his particular special educational needs.)

I originally chose to attend school in Minneapolis, but in order to have what I considered a good quality of life for my family, picked a neighborhood some distance from the law school. With the mass transit options in the city, I thought it would be fine. I know now that it probably would have made life a lot more complicated. Proximity really does make life a lot easier.

I decided against attending a few other T20s because I realized it probably wouldn't work for my kids and spouse. It's really important that everyone is on the same page (or as close to it as possible.) Bringing unhappy kids or a reluctant spouse to law school just increases the stress -- it's one thing if your family doesn't want you to attend at all versus that they just want their needs/wants acknowledged. You're going to need their support -- do your best to make it a team decision.

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rdcws000
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Re: Law School with kids?

Postby rdcws000 » Fri May 28, 2010 2:39 pm

Deldad and mbw, again, extremely helpful.

I feel confident that my family is supportive, and it's not that they don't want me to go period. I am doing my best not to sugarcoat how hard it might be for them, but I also want them to know we will find a semblance of a life and some routine.

Of course I would have loved to apply to more schools and increase my chances of going to my best possible option, but I only applied to 2 schools in our hometown because my wife's parents live here. I'm hoping this will take off some of the pressure of them feeling isloated from me at times.

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macattaq
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Re: Law School with kids?

Postby macattaq » Fri May 28, 2010 4:22 pm

Let me preface this by saying that I don't have kids.

I was thinking about your situation, and the ages of your children, specifically the youngest child. This is either a bad time to start or a good time to start depending on how you look at it. It could be a good time, because when you finish, both children will be in school, so your more demanding career obligations and concerns could be handled more easily. On the other hand, if you wait three years, both kids will be in school. This will free you up to attend class and study during the day, and you'll probably have more free time with your family at night. Given that one of your kids will be a teenager in three years, having this free time might be better when it comes to handling that child's development. Regardless of what you decide, it sounds like being a good parent is the most important thing to you, and I commend that.




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