Post # 1
I can’t seem to figure out how to put this into words. I have written and rewritten but can’t seem to get my question across…. so….
I am supposed to start law school about 4 days after the wedding. I can handle that, that is fine. The thing I am having a problem with right now is when to start having kids. It has always been my dream to be a mother, no career ever pushed that out of first place. I decided about a year ago to go to law school with the desire to do family law and ideally focus on adoptions. At the time, FH and I had broken up. We have been long distance and I think we both needed some time to evaluate how the whole distance thing was working out for us. Around the same time, my parents got a divorce. Needless to say, at that time I was definitly wanting to make sure that I could take care of myself while living in high priced LA. Now that I am getting married and moving to the midwest, my desire to have a family is pushing its way back to first place. I am not sure what to do. I know plenty of people are lawyers and have families but I am just looking for some insight I guess. Would I be crazy to get pregnant while in law school? Not the first year, but maybe the 2nd or 3rd year. How hard is it to be a mom and work in general? I grew up with a stay at home mom, that is what I have wanted to be. I guess I am trying to figure out if that is still what I want or if I want to work and be a mom. I don’t know. What has everyones experiences been like?
Post # 3
I have no personal experience raising kids. But I knew three women who had babies during law school. One seemed to do fine – she had a toddler, had another baby her 2nd year, and was still on law review. Another woman in my class had a baby her 3rd year, and ended up going on leave from school before graduation. I also knew a woman who had baby during spring semester. I think for her, since she wanted to work in biglaw, she thought that the best time would be during 3rd year and while she was studying for the bar – she would have been busier after she started working. I actually didn’t know her very well and I don’t know if she ended up graduating and working right after or if she took time off.
Based on seeing those people, I would say it’s unusual and difficult, but not impossible. There were more men with kids at my school than women. I think you have to be a very high energy person with a lot of drive to make it work. Another factor to consider is whether you are taking on student loan debt. Unless you have some other source of income, most people have to work after law school. You should calculate how much your student loan payment will be, and try to get a sense of what family law jobs pay in your area.
I think your question about working or not working as a parent could go to anyone here, not just lawyers.
Post # 3
We don’t have kids yet, but my husband went to law school and worked full time, I would guess it would be kind of similar. It was do-able, but we didn’t have a ton of free time together. He kind of had to have the approach of “passing” rather than “exceling” in his courses to make it all work too. He said first year was the most stressful, and the others are less so, but typically you need a good chunk of time to prep for the bar after that too. The caveat is that pregnancy and motherhood is going to take a lot more out of you physically than a 9-5 job.
I’ve also known women who have kids in med school, and they totally make it work (with a very supportive husband/family), but I’ve heard them say they feel like they miss out on a lot by having to be gone a lot while the child is young. But they love their job too, so it works for them.
Post # 4
I’m not a lawyer but may be able to share a little insight.
My mother was a Stay-At-Home Mom and I am the youngest child so when I went to school she went to law school. She did have a difficult time with 2 children and had to extend the program and finish in 4 yrs, but she still finished. She still worked part-time so she could be the parent that was always around to take up to school, sports, etc. She started working full time when I was in college. Part of her regrets having a law degree and never really working her way up the ladder, she does have a great job but no nearly as much as if she worked full time when we were growing up. But she always says how being a mother is one job you can never do over and she is glad that she had such a large part in raising us and knows that you can never do 2 things 100%, so she chose to put the 100% into her kids.
I always wanted to be an attorney. I actually wanted to work on school boards for children with disabilities and advocate for their rights. All through high school and college I worked at firms and looking back on those mother attorneys now, that was not the life I wanted to live. The successful attorneys never saw their children. People would videotape their kids swim meet, school play, etc. and they would watch them in their office on lunch time. I personally amd someone that wants to be there. But I still continued to apply to law school and during my last year in college I took a law class and realized that it was not for me. I was a little sad that the path I always wanted to take but now that I am married and my desire hasn’t gone away, I do not regret not going to law school and am happy that I am not burdened by all of that debt. I plan to be a Stay-At-Home Mom and know that even when I got back to work I will never work full time, but I do have an education if I need to.
If your first desire is to be a mom and an active one, you can still be a lawyer but you don’t have to be the number one lawyer in CA. It will be hard to do both, but think about how you would feel if you didn’t go to law school and then decide. My mother never moved her way to the top of the corporate ladder but she raised two kids, never missed an event, and still fufilled herself professionally. Good luck to whatever you decide.
Post # 5
I am in my second year of law school right now. I have heard it said more than once that “everyone gets pregnant during their third year.” I would not advise doing it during the 1st year because it is a difficult and time consuming transition. You could also consider taking summer classes if they’re offered and be done in 2.5 years. That’s what I’m doing. I didn’t even want to get married before I finished law school. It just depends on how involved you get. You can just go to class and take exams and have a good amount of free time if you don’t study too much. Or, you can get super involved and do competitions, join groups, etc. I think it can be done, depending on how involved you want to get in the school. Good luck!
Post # 6
I’m graduating law school in exactly a month (woot woot!) and I know of 2 people who are pregnant right now. One is going to have to wait to take the February bar, instead of this July, because she is due in July. And the other is taking the bar in July and is due in September.
I also knew a second year student who had a baby (not planned) and she is going pretty well, but she has a lot of help from friends and family.
As a law student myself, I would definitely advise you to think very hard about how you see your future and if law school fits into that. If you want to have children right away, you may decide that the time and money invested into law school isn’t worth it. Especially if you are going to be financing school with loans. Depending on how much you have to take out, the amount can dictate whether or not you can be at Stay-At-Home Mom.
Best of luck to you!
Post # 7
i don’t have children yet, but i think that the work/life balance shifts depending on what kind of practice you go into. i am currently working in a small, two-lawyer firm, and my balance is vastly different from my friend who works in big law. there will always be late nights and weekends to work, but those lessen with different fields
and, government attorney jobs have substantially more steady hours (at least in my area) and may be an option if youre looking toward family law/child advocacy
i know several girls who had babies during law school – and they all seemed to balance it fine – i wouldnt suggest first year, just because of the transition, but after that, they were good
one even used to bring her baby with her to some classes (like the smaller, seminar classes) and it usually worked out – i will note that i went to a smaller law school, so i don’t know how this would play out in an ivy or bigger school
Post # 8
I’m a 3L graduating in May, and I know 1 person who had a baby last fall as a 3L. I just recently talked to her about it, and she said it was a good time for her because her mom was moving in with her and her husband for some reason so she gets a lot of help. I know 2 other people who had babies last fall after they graduated (so they were pregnant at graduation and for the July bar). They both have 9-5, pretty low paying jobs, so I’m sure it’s doable for them. I think it mostly depends on where you see your career going. I’m going into biglaw and there are times when I’ll be working 80 hour weeks, and I just can’t imagine doing that with a family. I don’t plan on staying in biglaw (just want to pay off my huge pile of loans), so I’m just going to wait to have kids until I get a job with better hours and more flexibility. So I think it really depends on what your long-term career goals are and how you want your family dynamic to be.
Post # 9
I am an attorney but do not have kids yet. A few of my friends had kids during law school. If you are going to do it, then 3L is the best year. It is still going to be very hard. Two of my friends had to take an extra semester and graduate late because of it and the other friend always felt guilty that she wasn’t spending enough time with her child. She was also extrememly exhausted, all of the time. Her grades did slip since she did not have as much time to study. Plus it put her behind everyone else when trying to find a job since she didn’t do an internship the 3rd year.
My fiance and I are going to start trying to have kids soon after our wedding. I work in a small firm, so I don’t work the long hours of big firms….but honestly, I am worried about not spending enough time with my kids. I want to be an active parent and I am coming to the realization that I cannot be as involved with my kids as I would like. I am now working on trying to find another job with less commute time so I can at least be closer to home and not spend 2 hours on the road every day.
It’s a really hard balance. I always wanted to be an attorney but want to be a good mom too. My family is going to be my priority, which is not understood by many people in this profession. My advice is to really think about this. Both being an attorney and a mom are demanding jobs. It is possible to do both, but you have to set yourself up for it right. Look into more family friendly areas of law. Also when looking for firms, look for lifestyle firms with low billable hours. they are out there, but just don’t pay as much as the big firms.
Post # 10
Not a lawyer, but went to grad school at Columbia in the building attached to the law school (I know, getting super tangential here, right?). I remember there being quite a few pregnant law students, and hearing that they were all 3L. This was 15 years ago, so my memory is a bit foggy, but I think most people were timing it to be due in the spring/summer, so that they’d already have a job lined up for after graduation, and they’d have a little time with the kid before starting to work. Don’t know what they did about taking the bar, though, I guess still aimed for July?
Post # 11
On my iTouch but it’s dying, so I’m ‘tagging’ this to remind myself to comment when I get home. 🙂
Post # 12
I agree with a lot of the bees that posted, especially regarding NOT having your baby during 1st year if possible (it’s a heck of a lot of work and a big adjustment on it’s own).
Are you planning to live/go to school/work in WI? I ask because WI has diploma privilege, so that if you graduate from one of their 2 law schools and practice in WI you do not need to take the WI bar, only pass their character/fitness sections and meet a few other requirments. That can help when considering the timing of having a baby if you don’t need to factor in taking the bar in July or Feb.
I would not recommend pregnancy/baby during 1L year (of course, things happen and you could make it work, but it would not be ideal). I have a friend who got pregnant fall of 2L year so that she’ll deliver during May and have the summer to hang out with her new little one before 3L starts. Other friends of mine (girls) were considering the same or also trying to have a Christmas/early January baby during 3L, or right after graduation and before the bar during that summer. If you’re planning children, really take into consideration your finals, the amount of class you’d have to miss if you delivered during the semester, and also ‘pregnancy brain’ that people talk about (I’ve yet to have munchkins myself, so I can’t help you on that). I have lots of guys whose wives are having kids, but I think it’s much different than actually carrying and delivering yourself and managing work/school.
The debt you’d take on, your desire to work, your desire to stay home, the amount of time you’d have to pay off your loans if you took them, and what you want to do after your kids start school are all things to consider when deciding whether do do law school and when to have kids. If you plan to be a Stay-At-Home Mom until your kids graduate, I’d put off law school until they’re older. The job market isn’t fabulous right now, and while you can balance kids/school and kids/work, if your desire is to have children and stay home with them for a bit, I’d definitely think of how it would impact you financially and see if it’s work waiting on. It can totally be done, and I think getting your JD, practicing a bit, and then taking 4-5 yrs off until their in school is do-able but getting your JD and then not working for 16-20 years would not be the best route.
Post # 13
Thanks a lot for all the input. It actually has been very helpful. I am in town visiting FH right now and we had a really great talk about this the other night. We have decided to go the baby route and postpone, potentially completely cancel, the whole law school idea. I couldn’t be happier. Once I really got down to what I’ve been feeling for a while now, I realized that I really would like to be a Stay-At-Home Mom so going to law school probably isn’t in our best interest. I feel really good about this and am so excited. We are still going to wait a year after marriage before trying but it is nice to know that it is in our future. Thanks bees!
Post # 14
@jessjess: I am sp glad that you and your fiance made a decision that you feel good about. There is really no good time to have a baby if you are a law student or lawyer and are ambitous about your career. It’s a very sad fact. A lot of my law school friends worked for 2-3 years and then became SAHMs as soon as they had their first child. They are all happy with their decisions, but LS is A LOT of MONEY to only use your degree for 2-3 years. If you know you want to be at home with your child(ren), I say more power to you for figuring that out now! Best of luck, and remember – there are lots of awesome things you can do for a career this is related to adoption/family services that don’t involve a law degree.
Post # 15
I’m not a lawyer but a doctor, I plan to do both, I could never imagine giving up everything I worked for but your baby is only a baby once, so I plan to work part-time during the formative years, hubby will do the same
lots of professional women will take a few years off for child rearing or work part-time, now that I am married career isnt my end all be all anymore, priorities change,some of of my other doctor female friends chose to work part-time to be a mom, some worked fulltime after the kids got older, rarely have I heard anyone give up their profession because of so much effort and time you have put into it
why cant you do both, most of my medical classmates waited til after school and were into training, but I knew a lot of people got pregnant during internship, residency, fellowship and working fulltime, life happens, you adjust, just plan it in your 4th year; you may wonder for the rest of your life