Work-Life Balance in Law School? It CAN Be Done

In coming to law school, I was determined to maintain a healthy study/life balance.  As a first-year law student, I know it is all too easy to retreat from life and forget who you were before law school amidst the dense workload of your broad foundational courses.  I have refused to succumb to the peer pressure of 24/7 studying, and in the spirit of my obsession with lists, here’s how I do it:

1.  I haven’t dropped my hobbies.  Whether you enjoy yoga, ultimate frisbee, playing piano or being a foodie, you can find a place to do it and people with whom to do it within walking distance of campus.

2.  I find new places to study to avoid the desperate feeling of cabin fever.  New York has an endless number of coffee shops and parks to explore, and you may be improving your retention abilities at the same time.

3.  As an NYU student, you will have access to discounted tickets to performances, movies, museums, sporting events, etc.  Broadway show tonight for a study break, anyone?  A few weeks ago, I attended a John Oliver comedy show – for free.

John Oliver from The Daily Show

4.  Not only does NYU Law have a student organization to match at least one of your interests, but these groups regularly bring in phenomenal speakers.  My favorite event last semester was one hosted by the Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law Society on the Google Library Project.  I was able to have lunch with a professor/attorney involved with the proposed settlement.

5.  I keep non-law school friends.  Even if you have not lived in New York prior to law school, chances are you either know someone or know someone who knows someone in the city.  These friends are your best connection to life outside of law school, a.k.a. reality.

6.  Volunteering enables you to use your legal skills early in your legal education.  Quite a few of my classmates participated in substantial Law Students for Human Rights projects open to first-semester 1L’s and raved about their experiences.  I recently became certified as a tax assistance volunteer.

7.  While grades are important, so are interviews.  I have made sure I maintain the ability to carry on conversations with others.  The Student Bar Association helps out by providing weekly Thursday night socials.  Firms are helping out this spring by hosting numerous mixers for their attorneys and NYU 1L’s.

Social Networking

8.  I work part-time teaching LSAT classes.  While the ABA does not permit first-year law students to work more than twenty hours a week, if you need to or feel the need to work while you’re a student, it is possible to do so.

9.  I step away when I catch myself unable to comprehend a sentence I have just read five times in a row.  Any law student can tell you that doing well is about quality and not mere quantity.  Spending those extra hours in the library is not worth it if you’re not engaging with the material.  You can’t study all the time.  Refer above for ideas of how else to spend your time.

NYU Bobst Library

In my Administrative and Regulatory State class, Professor Rachel Barkow recently asked if anyone had heard of a man named James M. Landis.  No one had, yet he was a brilliant academic and highly influential government official during the New Deal.  However, Landis had dedicated his life solely to work (and other less admirable addictions) and ended up drowning in his backyard pool after being prosecuted for failure to pay his federal income taxes.

Moral of the story – maintain a healthy work-life balance or you may end up fading (or drowning) into obscurity despite your life’s accomplishments.  That, and always pay your taxes.

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