The National Jurist - Back to School 2017 - 10
Why law school can be a good
time to start a family
fter graduating from Cornell
University in 1954, Supreme Court
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg followed her husband to Fort Sill,
Okla., as he fulfilled his duty to
the Army as an artillery captain.
It would be two years before she enrolled in
law school. Before that, she would become
pregnant and give birth to their first child.
Initially, she had doubts about attending
law school while she had a toddler. Torts,
contracts and potty training?
Sure, piece of cake.
Writing for The New York Times,
Ginsburg shared some advice she received
from her father-in-law:
"Ruth, if you don't want to start law
school, you have a good reason to resist
the undertaking. No one will think the less
of you if you make that choice. But if you
really want to study law, you will stop worrying and find a way to manage child and
Ginsburg followed this advice and
entered law school with a toddler in tow. At
the time, raising a young child was considered a "grave impediment" to a legal career,
Ginsberg wrote. Nevertheless, she was able
to land a federal clerkship upon graduation.
Ginsburg was a pioneer. Today, hundreds of law students are parents or expectant parents. While drawing strength from
their responsibilities to their families and
leaning on the support of law school
accommodations, student parents are not
just surviving. Many are thriving.
By the time Christine Budasoff and her
husband, Danny, decided it was time to
follow their shared dream of going to law
school, they had a 2-year-old daughter and
a 4-month-old son.
"I was very apprehensive and was
not sure how it would work," Budasoff
said about entering University of North
Carolina School of Law with an infant.
PHoto By Bruce Buckley
How expectant mothers and new parents find a balance
between babies and books. By tyler roBerts
"Every 1L knows how demanding law
school can be."
Now a third-year student, Budasoff
and her family spent the summer in
Washington, D.C., where both she and
her husband interned. After two years of
law school, Budasoff is second in her class
and has secured a clerkship with the D.C.
Circuit Court, which is scheduled to begin
next summer after she takes the bar exam.
She's also pregnant again. Their third child
is due this fall.
"Law school and raising a child are not
mutually exclusive," she said. "You can do
both and succeed at both."
Contrary to what many believe, law
school may be the best time in a lawyer's
career to have children, said Marcia Sells,
dean of students at Harvard Law School.
Law students have more options available
to them than practicing attorneys do. New
and expectant parents can enroll part time,
The NaTioNal JurisT
Back to School 2017
Danny and Christine Budasoff
started law school at the same time
with a 2-year-old daughter and a
rearrange their daily schedules and even
take a leave of absence under certain circumstances. Law schools also offer accommodations and support that may not be
found in the workplace.
Law schools are required by federal law
to provide reasonable accommodations for
new and expectant parents. Under Title
IX, law students must be allowed to continue participating in class and extracurricular activities, absences must be excused
for as long as medically necessary, and students must also be allowed to return to the
same academic and extracurricular status as
before their medical leave began. In addition, law schools must provide accommoda-