How Parents Can Be Law Students

Some law schools offer support for students with families, but clear planning will help them succeed.

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Parents considering law school should carefully research financial aid and future career options before embarking on a degree program.
Parents considering law school should carefully research financial aid and future career options before embarking on a degree program.

Many people dream of attending law school, being a lawyer or pursuing a particular career track. But many do not seek a law degree right out of college for a myriad of reasons. Perhaps they had second thoughts, chose to work for a few years to save tuition funds or encountered a new dream.

Others had not considered law school earlier in life but find themselves drawn to it in adulthood. Many people who have started families and established their careers may believe it is too late to go to law school. But if it will further your career or allow you to embark on a new path, it is certainly plausible for parents to obtain a law degree. 

[Determine when in life to apply to law school.] 

In my years working with law school applicants at Stratus Prep, I have found that the greatest deterrents for parents considering law school are finances and the fear of neglecting their families. Juggling parenthood and law school is not easy and it is not necessarily for everyone, but by planning ahead, it is achievable. 

The first question you should ask before applying to law schools is if the degree and career path is right for you. Because law degrees are quite costly, it is crucial to pinpoint a specific postgraduation goal so that you can quickly seek and attain a job. 

Research the salary for positions of interest to you to be sure that it justifies the cost of the education and that there is demand in the job market. These are good tips for all law school applicants, but they are particularly important for those with dependents. 

If you determine that law school is right for you and will advance your career, the next step you should take is to plan financially. It is a wise choice to apply to institutions that offer substantial financial aid and spend sufficient time on your applications to increase your chances of being awarded scholarships. 

[Learn how to maximize your law school financial aid.] 

Review your savings and research loans so you can aim for the lowest interest rates. Parents should also consider part-time law programs, as they could enable you to continue working during school or spend more time with your family. 

Most law schools will be "parent-friendly," meaning that applicants with children will not be at a disadvantage. Some schools have more resources for students with children than others, such as help with child care options, blogs with advice from former students with children and more. Some schools that openly offer assistance to parents are Roger Williams Law SchoolWashington University School of Law and Duke Law School

Finally, outline how you will manage your time once you are a law student. If you only look up required class time, it will appear that law school is not a huge time commitment. Keep in mind, however, that for every hour of class you are expected to spend several hours reading dense text. 

Law school courses are graded on a curve, so you will constantly compete with your classmates and your competitiveness during school will be measured when you are seeking employment. Account for your class time, outside studies, work, family time and any other obligations you have.

[Get tips on choosing a law school specialization.] 

Think also of where you will study. If home is too distracting, plan to spend time at the library or another quiet, local spot. Share your planning with your spouse and discuss any changes with your children so everyone is on the same page and you can support each other. 

Planning and understanding are the key components to being both a parent and a law student. With careful preparation, anyone can successfully obtain a law degree and pursue a rewarding career while caring and providing for a family. 

Are you a parent applying to law school, or a parent in law school? Tell me your story in the comments, email me or contact me via Twitter @StratusPrep.