Taking a leave of absence from T14?

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DoITakeAYearOff

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Taking a leave of absence from T14?

Post by DoITakeAYearOff » Sat Aug 15, 2020 11:30 pm

Hi folks,

I am a rising 2L at a T14 who is contemplating taking a year of absence from law school. A very close relative was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness and I would like to be at home to support my family.

The tradeoff is that I would be giving up a lot of opportunities that I’ve worked hard to make happen for this upcoming year: law review, TAing with a professor, RAing with another professor, and a board position with a student group. Having committed to these obligations, I would feel terribly about letting those involved down. At the same time, I also know that I won’t be able to perform to the best of my abilities given my family circumstances.

I’m also worried about returning next year and participating in OCI with only a semester of real grades when presumably everyone else would have a full year’s worth. I did do well (~top 5%) if that’s of any relevance.

If I do take a year off, is it acceptable that I do, well, nothing besides caring for my family and grieving? Or should I be looking to do some volunteer work or whatever to fill the gap on my resume? How would employers perceive the absence? Should I just try to tough it out and stay in school?

I need to make a decision as soon as possible, as school is just around the corner and my commitments are scheduled to begin. This has been an extremely challenging and anxiety-inducing time, and I would appreciate any insight and advice folks may have. Thanks in advance!

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blair.waldorf

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Re: Taking a leave of absence from T14?

Post by blair.waldorf » Sun Aug 16, 2020 12:31 am

Aren’t classes remote? Could you spend significant time with your family without a leave of absence since you can basically do school from anywhere? I’d bet significant money that almost all schools have a remote option for the spring, too, if you’re worried about that. The coronavirus isn’t going away anytime soon.

I don’t know the answers to most of your questions, just thought I’d throw this suggestion out there. I’m really sorry you are going through this.

DoITakeAYearOff

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Re: Taking a leave of absence from T14?

Post by DoITakeAYearOff » Sun Aug 16, 2020 12:18 pm

Thank you so much for your response. Classes are remote, and I agree that Spring semester will likely have a remote option as well. It's more than I worry I won't be able to handle school and family obligations at the same time, at least not without significantly jeopardizing my performance.

I'm considering also just taking a reduced course load and maybe forgoing a couple extracurriculars, but that strikes me as a worse option than just taking a leave.

AdieuCali

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Re: Taking a leave of absence from T14?

Post by AdieuCali » Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:23 pm

Very sorry for your family member and for your struggles at an already tumultuous time. Only you really know if you can handle supporting your family and completing your law school responsibilities at the same time. You have a good excuse for a LOA and are a strong enough student that you will probably not be harmed long-term for taking one. However, I would worry that recruiters/clerks may not take the time to try to understand your completely justifiable decision to take a LOA while they are sorting through hundreds of applications for SA/clerkships.

If you decide to stay enrolled, you will almost certainly be able to take remote classes through the end of the school year. Try to take a minimal course-load and easy courses. That may raise some eyebrows from judges, but during your interviews you'll have a good reason to explain pumping the brakes during 2L.

As far as your extracurriculars:
law review,
Don't drop this. You should be able to do all of your cite checks and other responsibilities remotely. In ordinary circumstances, this might hurt your chances at E-Board, but WFH is going to be new normal for the foreseeable future.
TAing with a professor,
Unless this is a highly influential professor with great connections to judges you're interested in, drop it. Grading 1Ls' Torts midterms is going to take a bunch of time for very little benefit.
RAing with another professor,
RA is somewhat more valuable since you'll be working closely with a prof on a potentially novel area of law. Talk to the prof about your situation and see if she/he would be willing to take on another RA or reduce your workload. Ofc, if this is not a prof with good connections, it may be worth dropping.
and a board position with a student group.
Drop it. Your fellow board members will understand. Employers won't care.

DoITakeAYearOff

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Re: Taking a leave of absence from T14?

Post by DoITakeAYearOff » Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:47 pm

AdieuCali wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:23 pm
Very sorry for your family member and for your struggles at an already tumultuous time. Only you really know if you can handle supporting your family and completing your law school responsibilities at the same time. You have a good excuse for a LOA and are a strong enough student that you will probably not be harmed long-term for taking one. However, I would worry that recruiters/clerks may not take the time to try to understand your completely justifiable decision to take a LOA while they are sorting through hundreds of applications for SA/clerkships.

If you decide to stay enrolled, you will almost certainly be able to take remote classes through the end of the school year. Try to take a minimal course-load and easy courses. That may raise some eyebrows from judges, but during your interviews you'll have a good reason to explain pumping the brakes during 2L.

As far as your extracurriculars:
law review,
Don't drop this. You should be able to do all of your cite checks and other responsibilities remotely. In ordinary circumstances, this might hurt your chances at E-Board, but WFH is going to be new normal for the foreseeable future.
TAing with a professor,
Unless this is a highly influential professor with great connections to judges you're interested in, drop it. Grading 1Ls' Torts midterms is going to take a bunch of time for very little benefit.
RAing with another professor,
RA is somewhat more valuable since you'll be working closely with a prof on a potentially novel area of law. Talk to the prof about your situation and see if she/he would be willing to take on another RA or reduce your workload. Ofc, if this is not a prof with good connections, it may be worth dropping.
and a board position with a student group.
Drop it. Your fellow board members will understand. Employers won't care.
Thank you for your detailed response. I also worry that recruiters may not take the time to understand, especially since they can just look to great applications from other students who have a full year's worth of grades and haven't taken a LOA.

I should have mentioned that I am an international student, and so clerkships aren't particularly relevant for me. I also don't have much of an interest in litigation.

alex114

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Re: Taking a leave of absence from T14?

Post by alex114 » Sun Aug 30, 2020 11:03 am

I agree with the poster who said to drop most things and keep law review. I work in BigLaw and that will hold their attention, giving you time to explain your family circumstances if need be.

Has school started for you yet? Did you decide what to do?

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