Pets in Law School

This is a picture of me and my cat, Gizmo.


 As you can see, I love him. A LOT.


I’ve had Gizmo since I was 12 years old, and it was a foregone conclusion that I would bring him to Boston with me when I moved for law school.  But I also have several friends who have gotten dogs or cats since starting law school. There are definitely pros and cons to taking on such a huge responsibility (especially if you’re dealing with a kitten or a puppy) in the middle of some of the busiest years of your life, so I thought I would write a quick post about some of the things to consider in deciding whether to bring your pet with you or adopt a new pet during law school.

The first thing is obviously whether or not you have the time to care for a pet. I am no advocate of spontaneously adopting a cat or a dog, especially if you’re the kind of person who goes out of town a lot or regularly spends 12 hours at school and work.  Most cats are way less work than most dogs, but it’s still a bad idea to take on ANY pet if you’re only home a few hours a day. I’m a homebody, and I get more work done in my apartment than I do in the school library. This has proven beneficial for Gizmo because he is exceptionally needy and hates being home alone.

The second thing to consider are the limitations a pet places on your living arrangements. In Boston, it is not hard at all to find a cat-friendly apartment. I’ve lived in 2 different places and, in my experience, most landlords don’t prohibit or charge extra for cats. Dog-friendly apartments are more challenging and much harder to find, especially if you have a larger dog. My roommate considered bringing her boxer to Boston last year, and we could only find one place within budget, in the area we needed to be, that would allow her to keep him. Although it can be done, it’s something to keep in mind if you need to live in a particular area of the city.

Finally, the third thing I would consider before getting a pet during law school in particular is the fact that you’re in a transition phase in your life. Although you may have the time and the desire to own a pet right now, law students don’t know what they’re going to be doing after graduation. Big firm work, as most people know, can involve 70 and 80 hour weeks during the first few years. Or you might be offered a job that requires you to travel a lot. Although you certainly can’t predict the future, it’s important to remember that pets – and especially dogs – constrain your freedom in a lot of ways. For example, I once had to leave Gizmo alone in our apartment for 3 days. I hated it, and I stressed about it the entire time, but I was able to do that rather than board him (which would have traumatized him much more) precisely because he’s a cat and his bathroom is in the house.  If I get a job that forces me to be out of the house more than I am currently, I know I’ll be able to make things work with him.


Although getting a pet is always a serious consideration, I also want to put in a plug for pet ownership during law school. You necessarily spend a lot of time hunched over textbooks and your laptop, and pets can be a huge stress reliever. It always cheers me up to have my cat sleeping on the bed beside me when I’m working on a tough assignment. Some days, especially as finals get closer, the only real break I take from work is to play with Gizmo or brush him for a few minutes. And I know my friends with dogs have to get out of the house for a couple of walks each day, no matter how much work they have to do. Although a pet’s needs can be stressful in a way, it’s also a nice reminder of reality to have to put someone else’s needs over yours.

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