Law school can be a challenge for the people who are actually in law school, but it’s easy to overlook the toll that being in law school can have on one’s parents, siblings, partner, best friend, or children.
If you have a loved one who is starting law school as a 1L in the fall, or who is already on their way to becoming a lawyer, you may have wondered how to support them through this challenging and exciting journey.
You might have noticed that your law student seems more exhausted, stressed out and selfish than usual. It might seem like they don’t have much time for you anymore. You may be wondering when you will have this person back in your life as their old self. Don’t worry. It will happen eventually!
In the meantime, here are some tips for how to understand and support the law student in your life:
|DO: Drop off take-out food or stash a lasagna in your law student’s freezer.||DON’T: Invite your law student to a long sit-down dinner that they have to dress up and commute to.|
|DO: Offer to do your law student’s laundry or dishes, or send over a housekeeper.||DON’T: Expect your law student to keep their house or apartment spic and span all the time themselves.|
|DO: Set up a weekly dinner date monthly movie night with your law student that does not conflict with their studying or exams. Realize that this schedule may need to be adjusted later when the workload intensifies.||DON’T: Expect your law student to be able to make it to impromptu events or attend every birthday or family gathering.|
|DO: Be patient with your law student when it comes to communication.||DON’T: Presume your law student will have their phone on when they are studying, or that they will find time to return your calls quickly.|
|DO: Understand that your law student will not be online as much as usual and may go through technology black-out days when they are buried in books and offline assignments.||DON’T: Forward lots of e-mails or other messages or leave lots of voicemails your law student will need to catch up on or respond to.|
|DO: Bring over your adorable puppy at a pre-planned time to help your law student de-stress and take a study break.||DON’T: Get your law student their own puppy that they are responsible for caring for, or expect them to pet-sit for you.|
|DO: Plan a casual lunch near your law student’s neighborhood when you come to visit them in law school.||DON’T: Take up space in your law student’s apartment, expect them to entertain you, or plan any activities that require a lot of their time, money, or advanced planning on their part.|
|DO: Be forgiving when your law student needs to cancel plans at the last minute because they have too much schoolwork to finish.||DON’T: Think that your law student failing to make time for you is a reflection on their feelings for you or your relationship.|
|DO: Give your law student opportunities to chat about things besides the law they’re learning, their classmates and assignments, and how stressed out they are.||DON’T: Be surprised when your law student really has nothing to talk about except school because it has become their entire life.|
|DO: Support your law student by saving them time. Things like cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and offering childcare can be really helpful.||DON’T: Think your law student will be able to manage every aspect of their lives the same way they used to before law school.|
|DO: Offer gifts to help your law student de-stress and stay healthy, such as a massage, spa treatment, yoga or gym class.||DON’T: Tell your law student they are aging exponentially or that they look ragged, tired, or out of shape now that they are in law school.|
|DO: Understand that the workload in law school can feel never-ending. There is always something to perfect. The pressure and stakes are high, and school can become all-consuming.||DON’T: Expect that law school is like a job or other graduate program that might allow for free nights and weekend time.|
|DO: Spare your law student bad news or emotional devastation during exams. Consider planning in advance what kinds of conversations might be off-limits during finals.||DON’T: Destroy your law student’s concentration by breaking up with them, picking fights, or unnecessarily sharing bad news that will stress them out and could be saved for later when finals are over.|
|DO: Tell your law student you’re sure they’re working hard and their hard work will pay off. Say you want them to be happy and that you will love them no matter what job they have in the future.||DON’T: Put added pressure on your law student by expecting a particular GPA or achievements out of them, or forcing them to stay in law school if they realize they don’t want to be a lawyer after all.|
|DO: Help your law student find a tutor or academic success program if they are struggling with their workload, motivation, or grades. If your law student is just beginning school, consider getting them a Start Law School Right course.||DON’T: Expect your law student to just “get it” because they’re smart and have always done well in school in their life up until this point. Law school is different, and they will need to develop skills to succeed.|
|DO: Be open to discussing difficult topics that may arise in your law student’s life, such as anxiety, depression, addiction, learning disabilities, and mental illness. Help your law student get therapy or other support if needed.||DON’T: Ignore warning signs or tell your law student they are making a big deal out of nothing and things will get better on their own.|
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And if you’re starting law school, check out our course for incoming 1Ls: Start Law School Right. You’ll get the feedback and support you need to succeed in law school, from day one!
Other helpful pre-1L posts:
- Pre-1L Summer Checklist
- How to Get The Most out of Law School with Extracurricular Activities
- How Being a Law Student and a Functional Human Being Don’t Have to Be Mutually Exclusive
- How to Start Law School Right
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