There are many reasons why law school is “hard.” From its unique class and study structure to the pressures of preparing for your legal career, law school is both mentally and emotionally difficult. This post is for parents of new law students who are wondering or are worried about what to expect from their law student. Read on to find out what to expect and how you can support your new law student!
What is difficult for parents to understand is that law school is not like college at all. The stress that a 1L will face in their first year has a lot to do with their process of realizing this. They need to study differently. They are tested differently. They have fewer opportunities to boost their grades. When your 1L realizes these things, it will most likely be after a setback.
The stresses of learning how to be a law student will have an effect on your 1L. They may be more stressed than you have ever seen them. You might be surprised by their apparent disinterest in spending time with you or speaking with you over the phone. This may make them come across as selfish.
But whatever you do, don’t take these actions personally.
They still love you, of course. Despite what it may seem like, they need your support now more than ever. Here are some things you should and shouldn’t do in order to support and help your 1L during this difficult year and beyond:
Having patience when it comes to communicating with your law student is very important. No, they will not be able to call you every night and talk to you about their day. They are not fully in control of their time, and you should understand this. This also applies to their availability outside of law school. Be understanding if they have to cancel last minute or are late to something.
Finally, on the topic of communication, knowing what not to communicate to your 1L is equally as important as what you should tell them. For example, don’t give them bad news during finals week. Be conscious of any stress you may inadvertently add to their lives. On the flip side, you can remove stress from their lives or at least give them a break from it by talking to them about non-law school related things. Get their mind off of it! They talk to their classmates about school and stress all the time, and they talk with their professors about the topics for the rest of the time. Don’t call them and always ask them about what they are learning in class! Give them the chance to talk about other things.
Seeing Your 1L
A nice lunch not too far away from their law school is a great treat for your 1L. They would love to spend time with you, but be mindful of how much time they actually have. A coffee date is easier to accommodate than a three-hour sit-down dinner. Spending time with your 1L in situations where you come to them rather than vice versa is the best way to stay involved. They want to see you, just be mindful and creative when planning when and where you meet them.
Seeing their parents and other family members is an uplifting experience given most of what they are seeing on a daily basis are the words on the pages of their textbooks. And if you have a dog, bring the dog. Definitely, bring the dog (or whatever pet they have).
But above all else, what is the most important thing you can do as a parent to support your 1L?
Give Positive Reinforcement
Tell them you know they are working hard. Tell them that they can do it, whatever “it” happens to be at that time. Tell them you love and appreciate them for all the hard work they are doing. And that you will always love and appreciate them no matter where their path during and after law school takes them.
These are things that every law student needs to hear, especially 1Ls. The stress of law school can lead many to question their abilities and career choices. Positively reinforcing your 1L can boost their confidence and help them focus on the task at hand rather than panic about the consequences of failure. Every smile you can make them have will improve their law school experience tremendously!
We hope you enjoyed this post on how you can support your law student. As a parent, understanding what your 1L is going through and being mindful of that is the best thing you can do. You can’t study and take the tests for them, but uplifting their spirits and appreciating their efforts will go a long way in making their 1L year bearable.
Looking for some help to do your best in law school? Find out about our law school tutoring options.