Are You Going Back to Law School?

A week ago, we went on our family quarantine walk at BYU campus (a relatively good place to go, in some ways; there were more people than I expected, but not more than we could easily avoid, and there are extra wide sidewalks). Michael and I took turns pushing the stroller Sam rode while Jeffrey took turns running ahead and then back to us. We stopped in front of the law school building, which Jeffrey has been to many times, and he wanted to go inside–but we couldn’t, of course. Even if we had a compelling reason to enter, the building is only open to staff, students and faculty–which none of us are.

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Since our walk by the law school, Jeffrey often asks to play family, telling me that I’m his little girl and that he needs to go to the law school but he’ll be back soon.

The ABA lets students complete their law degrees within seven years of law school admission. BYU gives students five years.

I was admitted in fall of 2018–which means that I would have to start this fall if I didn’t want to reapply (though even that case, I would need to petition for re-entry and pay $500.

This year, starting up is not an option, whether or not it was an otherwise good idea. I withdrew from law school during my first semester because of severe pregnancy sickness, and now my baby is here and the sickness is gone–

But that doesn’t mean my stamina is back, or my ability to pull full-time hours and then come home to take care of my little family. My health is far better than it was during pregnancy, or even than it was three or six months postpartum. I am resurfacing. I just still have a ways to go.

If BYU had a part-time option, or even if there were ABA acreddited online law schools I could take part-time, I would restart. But those aren’t the facts.

Even without pregnancy recovery, I would have a strong preference for part-time law school. I love school. I love deadlines and assignments and classroom discussions. At least, I do until I am so strained that I feel like I can’t do a good job at anything, in or out of school. Full-time law school before Sam’s pregnancy danced right on that line–sometimes I loved what I was doing and other times I felt utterly drained and empty. Some days I finished my work at five in the evening and came home to have a wonderful time with Michael and Jeffrey; other days I had nothing to give my studies or my family and I felt helpless while I tried to read or spend time with Jeffrey, only to find my efforts slipping past without any traction like truck tires stuck in a ditch.

Under my current abilities and responsibilities, as long as my local school remains a full-time only program and the ABA refuses to allow for online schools to be accredited, law school is not a realistic option.

If any of those conditions changed in the future (including if my abilities increased), law school might come back on the table. But I can’t say with any certainty that I would go back then. There are two things I want from law school: 1) the ability to provide for my family in a way that I enjoy and think I’d be reasonably good at, and 2) the chance to be an advocate for causes I believe in. Whether or not it was my main job, I would want to be an advocate for victims of assault or trafficking. The other two areas of law that interest me are environmental law and intellectual property, both of which I view as types of advocacy.

But I am going to be an advocate, whatever I do. As a writer, I am an advocate, and there are many volunteer opportunities in advocacy that don’t require a law degree.

Financially, I have other options, too. In the years ahead, law school will probably often be on my mind, but I’ll be trying other ways to become a financial provider. (Michael, by the way, is a great provider–but I want the security of knowing I’d be able to take over in a pinch should the need ever arise.)

That said, I do think about the law school often. I miss my classmates and classes and professors. I watch law school vlogs on YouTube. I talk to Michael about what I remember from my classes, and was very happy that I correctly remembered that “In re Greene” was a consideration case (though I initially got it mixed up with Hamer v. Sidway and then the one about the theatre ticket lottery). There were some real challenges, and I want to remember those as I make important decisions for me and my family, but there was also a lot to love. Some days, I even miss my poorly lit, hard-chaired carrel.






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