Sunday, October 6, 2013

They Do Not Understand

Law students, as well as recent graduates studying for the bar exam, often lament that family and friends do not understand why they are studying all the time and feel unable to participate in social events on a regular basis or spontaneously any more. 

Law students find that others expect them to act the same way they did before law school.  Whether they were in college, employed, or in another graduate program previously, the law student is expected to be ready, willing, and able to go out to dinner and the movies, to spend a weekend out of town, to attend every family event, and so forth. 

Bar studiers have the difficulty of others thinking that now after three years of law school the bar exam should be a breeze.  Their family and friends have waited three long years to have them back to normal!  They did not expect the new graduates to turn around almost immediately and become hermits (in their minds) yet again.

The only people who readily understand the life of law school and bar study are those who have been in the midst of those commitments as law students and bar studiers.  There are two resources for families and friends that may be useful to pass on to help these important people in life to understand:

  1. For law students: The Companion Text to Law School: Understanding and Surviving Life with a Law Student by Andrew J. McClurg (Thomson Reuters 2012).
  2. For bar studiers: "Chapter 4: Preparing Your Significant Others for the Bar Exam" in Pass the Bar! by Denise Riebe and Michael Hunter Schwartz (Carolina Academic Press 2006).

Each law student or bar studier has to determine realistic boundaries on their time - what can I do and what can I not do and still succeed on my goals.  Then a heart-to-heart discussion with family and friends will hopefully help lead to understanding.  Some law students or bar studiers have to rehearse their side of the discussions.  

Ultimately, the law students or bar studiers have to honor their own goals and boundaries.  Giving in or being consumed by guilt will not help.  The best you can do is try to explain diplomatically and use one of the resources listed to provide an outside perspective if you think it will help.  (Amy Jarmon)   

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