The National Jurist - Back to School 2017 - 11
tions such as private nursing rooms, elevator access and schedule adjustments.
Many law schools exceed these mandates. New and expectant parents may be
able to get in-class note-takers, recorded lectures, exam breaks for nursing and possible
deferment of exams. Law schools may also
provide help with scheduling by allowing
students to enroll part time and by identifying courses with lighter workloads.
At Harvard Law School, the number of
students with children has grown during
the past few decades. In turn, the school is
doing more to support these students, Sells
"We want students to understand that
it is possible to raise a family during law
school," said Lakshmi Clark, director of
student affairs at Harvard Law School.
Spouses and partners of expectant mothers may also require special accommodation. At Harvard Law School, for example,
these expectant parents may request exam
deferment if their partners are due during
the time of exams. They may also request
to take exams in a private room, with a
proctor monitoring their phones for any
updates on pending childbirth.
Though neither of the Budasoffs
required time off from school, they were
able to defer an exam when their infant son
fell ill. There were times when they brought
their children to class or took turns sitting
with them in the library while the other
parent was in class.
"The professors at UNC are very sympathetic," she said. "Many of them are parents
too, with children around the same age."
Law students can also find peer support
in groups such as Parents as Law Students,
or PALS. This group exists on a number of
campuses nationwide and in many forms,
depending on the needs of the participating
Budasoff, who is the leader of PALS
at UNC School of Law, said that because
organizers understand that student parents are already busy, PALS is informal and
undemanding. It is a place where students
can share their experiences, give advice on
baby-sitting and day care and provide support during challenging times.
"Going to law school is tough, but add
the pressures of being a parent, and tough
does not sufficiently describe life," wrote
Budasoff on the group's website. "Support
from fellow students who understand your
needs is a crucial part of your law experience."
Parenting comes with many challenges,
and so does law school. Finding a way to
balance the two may seem impossible. A
number of blogs, online forums and discussion boards are devoted to the topic of parenting during law school, and many warn
against doing so. But there are law students
who don't want to put having a family on
"I went into law school wanting to have
kids, and we wanted to have them soon,"
said Brenda George, a student at Seattle
University School of Law.
George was a first-year law student when
she and her husband decided to have their
first child. The decision defied advice they
had received from well-meaning family and
friends, who encouraged them to wait until
after George graduated.
George had her first child just weeks
after completing final exams.
"The most important advice I received
was to make sure I was fitting law school
into life instead of life fitting into law
school," George said. "Law school is just
one part of me."
George began sharing her story on a
blog called Ms. JD. Her frequent posts talk
about the challenges she faced as a law student during pregnancy and after childbirth.
Her hope is that other students and prospective students will be inspired to pursue
the dual dreams of becoming a lawyer and
having a family.
"What I am doing is not extraordinary
to me," she wrote. "It is normal. It is everything I envisioned as a strong, young female
ready to take on the world."
This fall will mark George's fourth year
of law school. When she enrolled, she was
working full time as a paralegal for a local
law firm. She found that the part-time program at Seattle University was not only
compatible with her professional goals but
also provided the flexibility she needed to
have a child.
Despite late nights, emergency day care
calls and missed classes, George was able
to find a balance between being a mother
and being a law student. She held multiple
internships and served as the editor-in-chief
of the American Indian Law Journal.
"I don't put law school before my family,
but I also don't limit myself," she said.
Others have also found the balance
between law school and motherhood.
Budasoff and George both said having children and going to law school gave them
perspective, made them more effective students and forced them to be more efficient
with their time.
"Bottom line is that you can make [having a child] work at any time it happens,"
Budasoff said. "You do not have to sacrifice
your education or sacrifice time with your
J-Term Study Abroad
Conflict Resolution from
Religious Traditions January 1 - 10, 2018
DRI is RANKED in the TOP 5 in the nation in
dispute resolution by U.S. News & World Report
Questions? Contact Kitty 651-695-7677 or
Back to School 2017
The NaTioNal JurisT