Long Distance in Law School

With admissions season in full swing, long distance relationships seem to be a hot topic among freshly minted admits contemplating new city skylines. Are they doable? I’m here to say yes, absolutely!

Successful long distance relationships are not uncommon in law school. Off the top of my head, I can count over two dozen 1Ls who are currently separated from their sweethearts, myself included. My husband Theodore lives 3,026 miles away in Seattle, Washington.

Brynn and Theodore in Seattle over Spring Break.

Brynn and Theodore in Seattle over Spring Break.

When I mentioned this offhandedly to someone last fall, I was taken aback by their cynicism: “Oh, that must be great for your relationship.” What’s more, I think they were equally surprised by my sincere retort, “It really is!”

In truth, I’ve found long distance to be a blessing in disguise. The demands of 1L year require a level of discipline and focus that I often lack when I’m around Theodore; we are simply too fond of impromptu silliness and adventures to be at the zenith of our productivity when we’re together.

Moreover, being on my own in Boston has encouraged me to seek out community in ways that I wouldn’t have if Theodore had come with me. In lieu of dining out with him, I spend time connecting with my classmates outside of school.

Being away from my traditional support network has pushed me to make lots of new friends and even helped me rediscover my sense of self-reliance. (I hadn’t cooked for myself in six years!)

Law school birthday parties

Law school birthday party

In short, the benefits of long distance during 1L year are many. And what of the drawbacks? Fortunately, a myriad of technology closes the distance gap in novel ways, making long distance relationships easier than ever before.

It is not unusual for us to communication via text, phone, email, Bitmojis, Facebook, and Skype all in one day. While we rely on technology to share our latest happenings, we also take advantage of video chat to simply be present without agenda, whiling away the hours as we work in virtual silence on our respective projects. He’ll code or draft patents while I read for one class or another. It’s not vastly different from how things would be if we were in the same room.

Skype with Mittens

Skype with Mittens

Communicating over Bitmoji

Communicating over Bitmoji










Long distance also provides opportunities for togetherness that don’t typically occur when couples are in the same place. We’ve gotten back into the habit of hand writing letters, something we used to do when Theodore was a 3L in New York and I was a graduate student in Budapest. He enjoys discovering new ways to support me from afar—such as ordering home-delivered groceries and surprising me with flowers during the last exam period—and I similarly embrace the creative challenge of finding new ways to brighten his days.

Long distance may not be ideal, but it can still be a positive and affirming experience. Far from being detrimental, it has reinforced the strength and durability of our relationship while offering unique ways for us to grow both individually and together.

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