It’s no secret that law school is an all-consuming endeavor. Even your friends and family with no background in the legal field have probably heard stories about how rigorous and draining law school is. Unfortunately, these horror stories can often ring true, at least to some extent. While your free time will be drastically limited for three years (if not even longer), it doesn’t mean that you will never be able to spend time with your friends and family. In fact, making time to keep in touch with the people you love can often help you be happier and more successful during law school.
Explain your time commitments to friends and family
Taking steps to manage the expectations of your loved ones can go a long way in preserving your relationships during law school. Unless they’ve known someone who went through law school, or went through it themselves, they likely don’t have a great understanding of how intense law school can be. Before school even begins, it may be helpful to have an honest conversation about what your next three years will look like. Particularly during your first year, school will be virtually all-consuming, and your free time will be limited. Explaining this to your loved ones can help them understand how your availability is going to change in the coming years.
Schedule time to catch up
You are far more likely to actually follow through with a date or a phone call if you actually schedule a time for it. Try to plan an activity, call, Skype session or whatever else in advance, and put it on your calendar like you would an assignment or appointment. Not only will this help you to process it as a non-negotiable, fixed “to-do” like anything else on your calendar, but having some fun things planned ahead of time can actually help you manage your time better in the long run. Having something to look forward to every so often can help motivate you to get your work done efficiently so that you have time to get to those activities.
You have to eat anyways…
A great way to maintain personal relationships is to schedule time with your friends and family while doing activities that you need to do anyways. Law school requires so much time spent alone reading or studying, but you still need to eat meals, run errands, and hopefully get some exercise. These are times where you have to take a break from work or studying anyways, so why not do them with a friend or family member that you no longer get to spend much time with? Even if your loved ones don’t live nearby, you can still call or Facetime someone while you eat or cook.
Try not to talk about law school all the time
Given the large volume of work and intellectual difficulty that comes with law school classes, it can be hard at times to shift the focus away from the lingering thoughts of law school and focus on someone else’s life – especially if they are not a law student. No matter how interesting you think the Rules of Civil Procedure and Restatement of Torts are, chances are your friends and family aren’t going to want to hear about them for hours. Try to clear your head a bit before meeting up with loved ones so that you can be present and engaged when they want to talk about what’s new in their lives.
Remember that you need law school friends too
While the competitive environment of law school may lead one to believe that it isn’t the best place to make friends, I would suggest that the opposite is true. You can benefit greatly from having a few people you can socialize with. Your classmates are going through the same challenges as you, and are probably feeling many of the same things you are. Finding a few people who can be your law school support system is key to staying sane. There is, of course, the added benefit of having people to study and practice for exams with around you. Whatever you do, don’t discount your law school classmates simply because of the curve!
You need a break from the stress!
Finally, remember that EVERYONE needs to take breaks. You cannot study through all of your waking hours, and you shouldn’t try to – it’s not productive. You can do higher quality work more efficiently if you take breaks to reset. Connecting with your loved ones is a great way to take your mind off of school and the stress that comes with it.
While law school can seem like it completely consumes your time for three years, you should do your best to preserve relationships with your friends and family. With some creativity and advanced planning, you can find plenty of ways to connect.
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