Love and the Law: Making Sure the Elements Are Met
By: Antonia B. Harbin
Managing Editor, Auburn Hills
As law students, we know about elements and actually we can apply the concept to our daily lives – especially in our relationships. If you are contemplating whether being in law school and in love at the same time is possible – be encouraged. Here is some first-hand advice, from Cooley students who are making it work.
Five couples were interviewed. Each couple was asked two questions.
The first question was the same for everyone: What do you consider the major elements needed in order to make a relationship work as a law student?
Most of the couples agreed that communication, time management, patience, and understanding are the most essential. But each couple had their own ideas about what additional elements they thought were necessary to make their individual relationships work. Other necessary elements include:
The second question presented to the couples was a little different for everyone depending upon their unique circumstance.
The Dating Couple (both are Cooley Law students):
Can you give a little background on how you specifically make it work as a couple attending law school at the same time?
We both did not think that a relationship with someone who did not want to go to the same place would work. We spend a lot of time together, we like the same things. We have a lot of fun together. We make each other laugh. Also, he has already taken a lot of the classes before me, so he was able to assist me and vice versa.
The Long Distance Couple (1 Cooley Law student/ 1 is not and lives out of town):
Is there anything special that you believe you need to make a long distance relationship work?
There are many elements that go into making a relationship work, adding law school, and long distance to the mix could potentially be a disastrous roller coaster ride, if you are not careful. In my situation, I find that it is helpful to start planning from the beginning of the term; I look at my syllabus and make deadlines for myself. I plan out which weekend in every month I will dedicate to my significant other it is normally planned around whatever school commitments I may have. I make sure that I do a little more schoolwork before and after my visit to see him or his visit to see me. We have schedule phone time every night right before bed, so even if the day is crazy we commit to our nightly good night call. The most important thing with a long-distance relationship is for both parties to decide from the very beginning that they are going to make it work. It is not just something that both parties can say verbally, it has to be put into action. You need a game plan.
The Engaged Couple (both are Cooley Law students):
Can you give a little background on how you specifically make it work as an engaged couple attending law school at the same time?
We are both full time in law school with jobs and extra-curricular activities. We have been together for two years and will be getting married in September. I graduate a week before our wedding and He will graduate in May and will write the bar in July. Before the semester begins we make a big calendar with both of our schedules so we know what times the other is available and what nights we are home at the same time. During exams we go to coffee shops to study. Although we are studying different things we have the drive to the coffee shop together and the comfort of knowing the other one is there going through the same thing. We reward ourselves. After studying all day on a Saturday we will plan something together, even if it is just cooking dinner with each other. Since we have different exam and class schedules we are there for each other. If one has an exam in the morning the other will wake up and help prepare breakfast and coffee or anything else to make the day less stressful.
The Married Couple (both are Cooley Law students):
Can you give a little background on how you specifically make it work as a married couple attending law school at the same time?
As a married couple you must put your marriage first and foremost; however, because we are similarly situated, we understand what the other person is going through. Because we got married during our first and second term, it is important for us to have the freedom to spontaneously spend quality time together at a moment’s notice. This helps balance the time that is taken up by our studies and involvement with school. Above all, we never forget that we are partners and no matter how difficult things seem, knowing that you are never alone makes life much easier.
Married Couple with a Baby (1 Cooley Law student/1 is not):
Background on how we make it work as a married couple with a child:
Divorce is not going to make school any easier. And, just do your best at everything. It's a balancing game. You won't be able to be perfect at everything, or even anything. But you can do your best, regardless of what that is. Relax and don't dwell on the things you cannot change. Law school is hard. Parenting is harder. And marriage is the hardest because you can quit.
As you can see attending law school and having a successful relationship is possible. The situations may not be ideal and time may not be plentiful but, love and the law can still co-exist. However, it is a time when all of the elements have to be met.