Married Life: Law School Edition

I initially thought there wouldn’t be many married people in law school, but there are quite a few who were already married before married or were hitched during law school. It’s nice to meet people who understand what it’s like to be married and balance law school. Just the other day, a friend asked me for advice about quality time in graduate school because she wanted to spend lots of time with family once she moved back home to attend school. I told her that she may be able to carve out a handful of occasions to see her family, but she would barely see her fiancé, with whom she lives, let alone her family.

Being married in law school is not necessarily tougher than being single. It depends on the type of marriage you have and how well you communicate with one another. My husband works long hours and I’m at school for many hours, so by the time we are both home, I have enough time to heat up dinner (if I was able to plan out dinner for the week) or throw something together before we each eat separately. I usually take dinner to my desk to keep working and studying. The most time we actually spend together is right before bed where we talk about our days and share our crazy stories or vent. It isn’t ideal for us, but we make the best of it. While it isn’t necessarily tougher being married, it is still tough.

Much like law school, marriage or any serious relationship requires balancing priorities and communication. This year, I’ve tried to attend more school events, such as the Halloween Party and Law Prom, while also planning more date nights with my husband. This means I am stricter, if that is even possible, with my time at school and studying. Whatever type of relationship you have, law school is a huge undertaking and it will be difficult on your relationship. Don’t forget to nurture your relationship as you go on this adventure together through law school.

Know Your Limit

As this semester quickly moves to its end, stress begins to mount. Outlining, finals, job hunting, summer plans, and other law school-related woes begin bearing down on each of us.  One of the most important lessons I learned this year is to know your limit.

If you continue to learn more about yourself as you progress through law school, you’ll start to work smarter. Whether you learn to balance your life differently or you realize supplements give you the right edge or advantage or simply you work to fix your mistakes, you will learn how to work smarter. Once you master what working smarter means for you, you’ll find that you can still work hard, put the time in, and alleviate the stress you probably felt from 1L. This isn’t to say stress will completely disappear but an immense amount of stress we each feel in law school is self-imposed. For whatever personal reasons, we feel this pressure internally then we push ourselves too far for too long.

For whatever your own personal reasons to pressure yourself, please keep in mind that you can only do your best. It’s cliché; I know. It’s also true. At some point, we push ourselves well beyond what our bodies and minds can handle. Believe it or not, you need sleep. Restful sleep. You also need to eat. You need diversions to let your brain process and relax. My old boss once told me that when you intellectually stimulate yourself (e.g. studying), you need more sleep to help recharge your body and your brain. It may explain why you may think an all-nighter or back-to-back twelve-hour days on maybe six hours of sleep may be what you need to do, but it is not working smarter. Law school is a marathon. You need to recharge to keep going because these small spurts or sprints won’t be the best for you. Not only should you do your best but you should do what’s best for you.

30 and flirty and thriving — for real

My 30th birthday is tomorrow, and I’ll be at school, presenting a mock trial for 25% of my Trial Advocacy grade.

Being 30 and in law school isn’t the typical plan. It certainly wasn’t mine.

I recently rewatched “13 Going on 30,” and let’s just say my plans at 13 were a lot like young Jennifer Garner’s. I actually achieved my (our?) dream: I had a good job at a great publication, disposable income, an active dating life, a good wardrobe, etc. But what looks good at 13 (or 25) isn’t always what makes sense at 30.

Basically, me.

 

For me, that lifestyle was just not practical long-term. Rather than digging in my heels and “making it work,” I shifted expectations and plans. I realized I would be much happier married than dating, and that being a newspaper journalist for the rest of my days would be tethering my life to a dream I’d woken up from already. I don’t have a great (or any) income, but I don’t need wealth to be satisfied. I am “30 and flirty and thriving” whether the fancy trimmings are there or not. I’m Jennifer Garner after actually growing up, now: steady, confident, and on a tenable path.

Becoming an attorney makes sense for this version of me — the adult version, not the teenage dreamer. Will it make sense at 40, or 60? I can’t say. My mother recently said, “You’ve already had one whole career.” She’s right. Frankly, employers would be lucky to have me given that I’ve been there, done that, thrown away the ugly promotional T-shirt (company slogan, “What’s the big idea?”) and traded it in for a suit. A younger version of me would never say such a thing, for fear of sounding conceited. Growing up is hard to do, but it sure is worth it.

Law school friends still managed to have a surprise party for me on Saturday night!

Law school friends still managed to have a surprise party for me on Saturday night!

Arguing Before the Appellate Tax Board of Massachusetts

Last Friday I went back to moot court for the first time since 1L year. Since I’ve been studying tax law, my law school experience has been very focused on transactional work – mostly tax planning and compliance. However, one of our two graded projects in my upper level tax class “Structuring Intellectual Property Ownership” was a mock trial before the actual judges of the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board.

Our case was about as interesting as a tax case can get: the issue was whether the state’s power to tax an out-of-state company on royalty payments it received for IP licensing is limited under the Commerce Clause and Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. I was arguing for the taxpayer that Massachusetts didn’t have “nexus” to tax.

This mock trial took so much work, but it was a heck of a learning experience. Getting back into classic case research and legal writing was a great refresher of 1L legal writing for me. It was also an exercise in group leadership, as the professor asked me to serve as group coordinator. While everything got done and everyone did a great job, I did feel that I came away with a desire to improve my ability to act as a leader in a group setting. Sometimes it was really frustrating ‘herding cats’ to get busy people coordinated to finish a big project. I know that I’ll be ordering some books on group leadership strategies!

Finally on Friday we went before the Board. I made the opening arguments and questioned our expert witness (played by Professor Darby!) I was surprised to find that I was really, really nervous going into it! I felt like my face just looked like a mask of dread the whole time, but during our feedback session the judges said I gave a very, calm collected presentation. The whole experience was a great reminder about the other side of the law – litigation and controversy work! I think I’m going to stick to transactional work for now, but I’m glad to have had the experience.

Here’s the taxpayer team post-trial!

Taxpayer Team

 

Law School Fitness Part II

Last semester I wrote a post about how important it was for me to maintain a fit lifestyle in order to stay sane in law school—and how awesome it was to be surrounded by so many people who had similar lifestyles. As someone who counts every almond in order to get an accurate count into his Fitbit log, I’ve found that having nutrition and fitness related goals has been a healthy and needed distraction in order to keep me disciplined and focused while I’m studying. However, staying disciplined and motivated this semester has been much more challenging than last semester. As a morning person, I really appreciated having my first class at 11am on most days (and at 2pm on Wednesdays) last semester because I could workout and get a substantial amount of work done before my first class. This semester I have class earlier everyday compared to last semester so my mornings only include a restricted workout (if I can fit it in) before my first class. By the time I’m done with classes, I have very little energy left to get work done so I’ve had to give up my morning gym time a few days a week in order to get work done before class in the morning. However, with finals around the corner, I’ve become more determined to stick with a strict bedtime so I can wake up as early as possible and take as much advantage of my morning energy.

"1L of a Team"

“1L of a Team” (minus my running-buddy who was unfortunately too sick to run)

Last semester, I also wrote about how happy I was to be surrounded by so many people who had similar goals and priorities with regard to nutrition and personal fitness. This weekend was the annual BU Law 5K Ambulance Chase Run. We received an email from my brilliant civil procedure professor challenging all the 1L’s to participate in the run earlier in the semester. Students could register as individuals or register as a team. I decided to make a team—confidently named“1L of a team”—which included a stellar group of classmates, including Miss Black Massachusetts USA 2015! The first year section with the most students to actually attend the run would be given a pizza party. I received some insight that my section (Section A!) had the most students registered but we won’t know the results until next week when they calculate who actually showed up to run. I should also note that it was cold and snowy during the run but there was still a great turnout despite Boston weather–which is definately a testament to the culture of BU Law. As I said last semester, I’m really happy to be surrounded on a daily basis by so many people who also value staying healthy as a way to mitigate the demanding nature of law school.