Thursday, October 13, 2005

What’s an evening student to do? Most of us work all day, go to school at night and the remainder of our time is spent trying to balance homework and family. Still, there are certain realities of law school and ultimate employment, and those realities have to do with our academic career beyond the grades. Books (and advisors, I presume, though I’ve not had time to talk to one) tell us that we need to get on a law review, go to seminars, volunteer for student groups or pro bono work. I personally am inundated with email every day with extracurricular options to gain useful advice from and schmooze with top attorneys, authors, judges, career experts, and others that will help me not only make a career decision, but perhaps assist in the invaluable process of networking. I would love to participate in at least half of these things. Pro bono work, of course! Work on a law review, sure! Those would be great experiences and would be super on a resume, but the reality is, there are four days a week that I already don’t see one of my kids. When exactly do I fit anything else in, and if I don’t, how do I compete with the (mostly day) students who have had plenty of time filling their time with useful law-related activities?

Sure, I already have a job in an area at least somewhat related to law. Holding down that job, maybe even excelling at it, while going to school will say something about the kind of person I am. OK, good. My grades will count for a lot, as I understand it. (I went to The Evergreen State College where we did not have grades, so this concept eludes me.) That I can work on, but being a first year and having very little idea of what exams will really be like, this area makes me nervous. (I know, join the club.)
What is the real expectation? Do they (you know, “Them”) expect that evening students compete in the same way as day students? How do employers evaluate one experience versus another? I guess that’s what it all comes down to – our experiences are just different. I’d love to be having the non-working or part-time working day-student experience, but that’s not the reality of my life. Maybe I can sneak in a bit of pro bono work or contribute something extracurricular here and there over the next four years (yes, evening is a 4-year program). If I do not, will it be the cause of my law career never even getting off the ground? Probably not, but I guess I should talk to an advisor about low time commitment projects that help build experience and resumes!

7 comments:

Casey said...

Breathe deeply - I'm sure you aren't the first evening program student to face this problem. Talking with someone "in the know" will definitely help. Maybe even talk with some of those evening program students you talked with before you started school. Maybe they would have some ideas or information. Just a thought.

LawSchool Mama said...

Thanks for the advice! Breathing deeply is always good...

Dagny said...

I am sure that the fact you are working and surviving law school will count for something with future employers. I don't know how you evening students do it, its truly amazing.

I just go to school and I am having a tough time.

Mini Mama said...

Law School Mama,
Just wanted to say that I am so glad I came across your post. I am applying for law school next year and will also have to attend in the evenings while working full time. I have a husband and a 15 month old baby girl. Things are so hectic now, I can't believe I am considering adding more to the pile. It is just comforting to hear that it is possible. Look forward to your next post--good luck with your classes!

LawSchool Mama said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
LawSchool Mama said...

Mini Mama - I tried to write to you directly, but I couldn't connect. Yes - it is possible, and the truth is - in this year's first year night class - about 98% of us work days and I would say close to half have kids, many of us with young ones. It can be done! I also found great comfort in finding evening students with kids to talk to before I applied. It's not going to be easy - but how many really worthwhile things it life are?

8:54 AM

Mini Mama said...

Hey Law School Mama,
Thanks for taking the time to reply! I try to tell myself the exact same thing--that the greatest rewards often come from overcoming the greatest challenges. But before, all my challenges generally just affected me; locking myself into my room until 2:00 am to study was a personal choice. But with a family, I keep running into the guilt of what I will be putting them through. However, my husband (he's so great) knows how unhappy I am in the boring world of HR and he says my unhappiness is affecting our family's happiness, and in the long run it will be better for us all. It is just hard to remember this when my mother and others respond "are you crazy?" to my plans. I turn in my personal statement this weekend and my application will be complete--Carpe Diem right? Have a great weekend!