Law school is hard, but definitely manageable with great time management and working ahead. While everyone approaches law school and schoolwork differently, I will briefly mention some of the more popular options and what I recommend to provide yourself with a buffer and time for yourself. I want to preface by saying that these approaches may not work for you, and that is okay. Every law school student has a unique background and external obligations such as work or family that makes it difficult to stick to one particular method to get work done on time. Perhaps the most popular option is to stay one day ahead of the class material. This allows you to have the material relatively fresh in your mind in case of the dreaded cold-call and breaks the week down into manageable chunks. However, something to keep in mind is that accidents and emergencies happen. While they may take some of your time away from school, you want to try to avoid falling behind and being underprepared for class because it is difficult to catch up and get yourself back on track.
Another method, especially popular among students who work or are in the evening division, is to complete the majority of your work on weekends since you have other obligations taking your time during the week. However, this poses the risk of burnout. Learning law school related material daily without a break is most certainly going to lead to burnout over time. The semester is a sixteen week marathon, not a one hundred meter dash to the finish. The last method that I am going to mention is the one that I personally utilize and has contributed to my success in law school: staying two days ahead. Staying two days ahead allows you to spend the latter part of any given week preparing for the beginning of the following week, thus freeing up your weekends to spend time on yourself. Most weekends I am either traveling to see my family or my significant other or going to some sort of event. I try my best not to do anything law school related from the close of the business day on Friday until Monday morning. This allows me to avoid burnout and stay motivated. Also, staying two days ahead is being proactive in case of an emergency. If something were to happen during the week, you have created a buffer for yourself to take the day off if needed. While these options are similar, they each provide unique benefits depending on your life situation and specific needs. Choose which works best for you or custom fit a method to ensure you can reach your greatest potential!
To live in a country where anyone who has enough drive and determination, regardless of their socioeconomic background, can advance their career and education. To be surrounded by a community of support where I am not the only one who cares about my success. For all of the gifts I have received throughout my life and for the present and future opportunities to give the same to others.
Sometimes I find myself falling into the same trap that many law students do…trying to press the “fast-forward” button. Night after night, semester after semester……the grind is real! How lucky I am, however, that the fast-forward button doesn’t exist. How much of life would I simply skip through because of its difficulty? To find ground again, I often remind myself of just how thankful I am to be where I am. Sitting in a law school lecture, studying and reading from home with a supportive family, or fighting the hourly urge to see if grades have been released after finals. All of it… I am thankful for. All of it… a gift.
So I’ll continue to fight the urge to fast-forward, lean into the grind, and try to be thankful for every moment. Like all chapters in life, this too will be over in a blink of an eye.
During my law school career, one of the questions I get asked the most is “how do you do it?”. I am a 3L enrolled in the regular division program, married for 10 years with two babies ages 5 and 4. (They are technically not babies, but they are in my eyes.)
My response: I have a village behind me- literally! My parents, siblings, and soon-to-be sister-in-law take turns picking up my babies from school. They take them to the park and spend time with them. My parents will often bring dinner over, especially when they know I have late classes. My husband works to support our household and helps with household chores. (Yes, he is a saint!) They all work together to support me and my law school adventure.
My greatest fear when I started law school was that my babies would get upset at me for not spending as much time with them. So, I would explain to them that mommy had to go to school just like them. I even brought them out to see the campus- so they knew where mommy was when she wasn’t home. Like always, my children surprised me. They understood! When they wanted to do something, they would first ask if I had to go to school.
Their support means the world to me. I knew they were all going out of their way to help me and for this reason, I had to give it my all. I set myself a schedule and stuck to it. It was hard, especially because I couldn’t spend as much time as I wanted with my babies. But being a mom gave me the motivation and determination I needed to succeed. I didn’t have the luxury of slacking off because I had to be home by a certain time to take care of my babies.
Being a mom, wife, and law student is hard! But not impossible. With the right support, motivation, determination, and time management everything is possible.
I am Daina Pizarro, a 3L at Widener. I am involved in several extracurriculars on campus and off campus.
I am the President of the Federal Bar Association, the Vice President and Treasurer of Trial Advocacy Honors Society, Vice President of Criminal Law Society, Vice President of the Latin American Law Student Association, Vice President of the Veterans Association, Student Ambassador, and on the schools National Trial Team.
I intern at Crisp & Associates, LLC which is a military defense firm, and nanny for two families part time.
There are many reasons I am so involved. 1) I love to be busy, staying busy forces me to have great time management; 2) extracurriculars make you well rounded and set you apart from others; 3) I love taking leadership, being on the executive board of the organization I am a part of gets me a chance to move the org in the direction I want them to go; 4) it gives me experiences you can’t get solely in the classroom; 5) it gives me a break from law school work; and 6) I can am linked up with other students who have similar interests as me!
I am here to tell you, get out there, try new things, and try things that you are interested in. It is possible be involved and still get good grades. So go for it! Go to the interest meetings, go to the happy hours, and get involved. It has made be a better law student, a better future lawyer, and an overall well rounded person. There is a organization on campus for anything you can think of and anything you are interested in. If there is not an organization, you can start one!
During this holiday season I find myself in a great in-between. As a law student I have a few weeks between fall and spring semester and as a high school teacher I have a week off for Christmas and New Years. I am enjoying my break from….everything. Hopefully you could hear the sigh of relief as you read that!
As I prepare to enter the spring semester of my 2L year as an extended division student, I think it’s important for myself to refocus on why it is I (as well as my wife!) am dedicating the time, resources, finances, and energy towards my law school education.
In the 1920’s George Mallory, who took part in several of the first attempts at climbing Mt. Everest, was famously quoted in response to the question why he wants to climb the mountain. He responded “Because it’s there.”
Law school is an avenue to a career field. It’s a globally recognized challenge. It’s a means to an end. It’s a body of knowledge being taught. It’s a way of thinking only mastered through an institution. It’s a crucible. Law school is many things to many people, but when I find myself searching for that last bit of energy to continue studying, reading, or keeping my eyes open at 10pm in class, I find myself always coming back to one thing.
Law school is “there.” It is this huge beast of a mountain that is only accomplished one way. There is no way to go around, to take the easy route, or to coast your way through. And the experience of climbing it, not the view from the summit, is what gives me focus to continue.
This is an amazing experience. Often times I find myself sitting in class and reflecting to myself, “I’m in law school right now…this is awesome!” The knowledge I’m soaking in, the way my brain thinks differently now, and the universally acknowledged challenge of it all is reason enough to go to law school. Regardless of one’s intentions after a law school education, there is nothing else like it in the world. I recommend to anyone who is capable to undertake this challenge not for the career prospects, salary, or some millennial desire for “fulfillment,” but instead…simply “because it’s there.”
Every semester ends with the dreaded finals season. No matter how exciting the semester was, finals season is not a fun time and it brings a new set of challenges. Attempting to predict what your professor will ask and studying hard from before Thanksgiving through the two weeks after, it is no doubt a physically, mentally, and emotionally draining time for every student. Some students have a finals schedule that is sufficiently spread out, while others have some finals back to back. The key to success is managing your time wisely and doing your best.
After this crazy finals season has ended and in the awkward time between the holidays, law students sometimes find themselves wondering what to do with themselves over the winter break. The creeping thoughts in the back of your mind nagging that you are forgetting to do some assignment or that you should be studying or updating your outlines will be a constant struggle to fend off in those short few weeks. Not to mention the struggle of having to wait until January for grades to be released. One might ask what to do.
I prefer to keep busy during these down times in an effort to ward off those creeping thoughts. Whether it be doing some sudoku puzzles, watching some awesome and cheesy holiday movies (shoutout to the Hallmark Channel), or browsing online and brick-and-mortar stores for some sweet deals, I always find something to do. While it is incredibly important to maintain activities that are not related in any way to law school, both during the semester and during breaks, I also plan to spend this Winter Break doing some research for a Widener Commonwealth professor. I thoroughly enjoy doing this research and it helps keep the boredom away. Not to mention that it is very rewarding!
Many second and third year students have found it rewarding to work during the break between semesters. There are so many great opportunities that Widener Commonwealth students have during both the regular semester and breaks. The ability to make and sustain professional connections, whether or not you plan on staying in the Susquehanna Valley, is valuable for your future career. Other students love to travel during breaks, with the obvious exception of this year.
Whether you are planning on occupying yourself by working or by leisurely enjoying the break, relish your semester breaks. It is a time to recharge and renew yourself before getting back into grind of the semester. No matter what you do, enjoy the well deserved break.
No one escapes the dreaded finals season, but don’t worry, we all make it through.
It’s strange for me to think about how in two weeks I will be starting my last round of law school final exams. To say that the last two and a half years have flown by would be a complete understatement. And so, I find myself reflecting, more now than ever, on those years and cherishing all of the memories that I have made. Because I often have first-year law students ask me “what is there to look forward to?” And while the question seems reasonable, especially because we are in the midst of virtual learning, it also feels personal.
When I first came to law school, I came in with a lot of uncertainty. I wasn’t sure what type of law I wanted to practice. I wasn’t sure whether I would make any good friends. I wasn’t even sure if Widener was the best fit for me yet because I hadn’t had the chance to visit over the summer. However, it became very clear after my first week of classes that there was nothing I needed to be uncertain about. The professors here are amazing and they are always willing to help you. The students here really care about each other and it was easy to make new friends. There is always something going on at the school for you to be a part of, even in the midst of virtual events. I also always felt supported, even when I decided to practice in an area of law that wasn’t as prevalent in this area.
I came in thinking that I wouldn’t belong and I am leaving wishing I had more time to stay. The great thing about Widener though is knowing that I am never really leaving. The alumni system is dedicated to staying in touch and helping out whenever they can. It’s a group that I am now excited to join here soon. It’s easy to think that law school will never end when you’re in the middle of doing the work but now that I am in the end it feels like yesterday that it just started.
Hi! My name is Shelby and I am a third-year student here at Widener Law Commonwealth. I am also the President of the Student Ambassador Club, which is focused on providing both interested and incoming students with as much advice, information, and help as we can provide in making the decision to attend Widener. Each week, a Student Ambassador will be writing about a topic of his or her choosing. This is my week!
I will admit, at first, that I struggled in choosing a topic to write about. I think this is because my “school life” has changed significantly for myself and many others. We have made the transition from in-person, on-campus schooling to virtual, at-home schooling. This has been a weird transition, but a transition I will never forget.
This transition has made me appreciate the community that Widener Commonwealth offers, which I think many large schools do not. Due to our relatively small class sizes, I feel that I have been able to get to know my classmates, professors, and school administrators on a much deeper and more personal level than I would have been able to, had I gone to a larger school.
I think this is one of the biggest “positives” that Widener Commonwealth has to offer its students. I have made so many close friends and made connections with professors that I know will are here to help me through law school as well as with life after I graduate.
A small school is certainly a change from the large universities that many of us come from, but it has been a wonderful change. I will always appreciate the connections – both personal and professional – that I have made here at Widener.
I am Randi Teplitz, the Assistant Dean of Students at Widener Law Commonwealth. I am so pleased to write this post so I can brag about our campus community, and most importantly the students who make our law school such a special place.
I am fortunate that I get to work directly with our students on a daily basis. Because of this, I get to witness both their passion towards the law and their education, as well as, the compassion and generosity that they regularly show each other. Law school can be a competitive environment that inhibits the forming of friendships and the building of meaningful community. However, that is not who we are. I am proud to say that is not the culture of Widener Law Commonwealth.
Our students help each other. They recognize the value of lifting each other up, rather than tearing each other down. Upperclassmen mentor the 1Ls, they serve as peer advisors, Academic Support Fellows, and are always willing to offer their wisdom by participating in student panel discussions, recording podcasts, or by blogging. Time is a limited commodity as a law student, but our students always make time for each other.
Our students also lead active and robust student organizations. Are you interested in Law & Government, Business Law, Criminal Law, or Environmental Law? We have the organization for you! Looking for something more social? Check out the Student Bar Association or the Program for Health, Exercise & Wellness (PHEW). Passionate about community service? The Public Interest Law Society will be right up your alley. Ready to tackle social justice and inclusivity issues? Join the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA), the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA), or the Women’s Law Caucus! These are just SOME of the organizations that we have on our campus and if we do not have it–CREATE it.
At Widener Law Commonwealth, we offer a small personalized environment that is BIG on student engagement.
I have the best job in the world because I get to work with our amazing students. I can’t wait for you to meet them!