In terms of the hierarchy of postgraduate studies, the only thing that is generally agreed to be more demanding than law school is medical school. Both law students and medical students have incredible amounts pressure on them at any given moment and so anything that could add more stress is typically avoided.
Dating in law school can be as beneficial as it can be detrimental, and each person has to figure out where she stands. The prevalence of hookup apps like Tinder or OKCupid make it easy for law students to meet someone for a night rather than enter a long-term relationship, and for some this kind of no strings attached relationship is enough.
It’s important to analyze one’s own circumstances in order to decide whether dating in law school is the right decision.
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Law School Overview
Law students must take and pass the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) in undergrad in addition to obtaining high grades and stellar letters of recommendation. Once admitted, there’s no time to breathe a sigh of relief because that’s when the real competition begins.
Full-time law students will complete their degrees in three years. Part-time law students, who typically go to school at night after their full-time day jobs, will finish their degrees in four years.
One of the biggest hurdles for law students is surviving the first year. Many law schools have an attrition policy that will cut a percentage of the lowest students from the program. In order to avoid being cut, first years students have to work harder than ever.
By the second year things calm down considerably but the focus is still on good grades, obtaining internships, and making law review or other special programs of academic distinction. Third years law students are focused on finishing school, finding a job, and passing the bar.
Cons of Dating in Law School
Dating in the first year of law school might be the worst idea of all simply because it is absolutely critical not to be dismissed. Burnout is also a big issue among law students and so doing everything to avoid being overly stressed out is key.
The stress never lets up in law school, and even upon graduation it doesn’t end until the bar exam has been passed. Stress is a major problem for first year law students and so adding any more stress from a relationship is just a bad idea all around.
In addition to the pressure of being a good partner, there’s also the issue of not being around enough. If the other person doesn’t like not being able to call or text during the day, or isn’t happy with the amount of time that the law student is in the library, then it can lead to fights, and stress.
Lack of Time
With class all day and studying into the night to prepare for class the next day, there isn’t a lot of free time in a law student’s schedule. At least not at first. Finding time to spend with a significant other can be challenging and that’s a surefire way to cause unrest in a relationship.
Law students are known for their late hours preparing briefs and reading case law. It’s not exactly easy to Netflix and chill with a Torts book and a glass of wine. As such, explaining to a partner why there’s no time to get away can be problematic and lead to undue stress.
Looming Bar Exam
As soon as a law students begins law school the focus is on graduation, finding a job and passing the bar exam. Most law firms will help graduates study and pass the bar, which means that even upon graduation the free time is at a premium for a short while until the big exam.
It’s hard to explain to someone how much pressure that causes and how it takes away the ability to do anything but prepare for it. A fellow law student knows this, but a partner who isn’t a law student won’t know it and won’t necessarily understand.
After all of the sacrifice to get into law school, it shouldn’t be jeopardized by a relationship that detracts from the goals.
Pros of Dating in Law School
While the reasons for not dating in law school are sound, there are always students who thrive on having someone else in their lives. Some prefer having someone outside the system so that they can fully detach from school and studying and just hang out.
Dating in law school works well with someone who understands the demands of pursuing a law degree. It’s even better to date someone who is equally busy, or who lives out of town. That way there are no expectations of spending time together except when planned in advance. It will make every phone call and text even more important, and it will greatly lower the stress of being a good partner.
Having a support system in law school is incredibly helpful. Having someone to cheer for you and provide motivation is so incredibly helpful after a long day.
Many law students end up in the company of other law students after school and so they are never able to truly decompress. After all, everyone is considered competition. Being able to have someone to lean on for support is a huge benefit.
Doctors and lawyers tend to forget about the importance of balance. Without balance, burnout looms large.
It’s easy to spend all day at school, moving between class, office hours and the library with little more than a chai latte for sustenance. Having a relationship forces law students to get away from school and disconnect, even if it’s just for a phone call at the end of the day.
Being able to get away from school to go out for a date, go hiking or even have a picnic at a nearby park might sound simple but these are the things that keep stress away and make for a more rewarding experience all around.
Thursday Bar Review
Most law schools honor a tradition known as Thursday Bar Review. Third year students get together and hang out at local bars to unwind. There may be studying but more than likely it’s just a big party to release stress.
While it’s not necessary to arrive at Thursday Bar Review with a significant other, it doesn’t hurt. Being able to go to school events with a partner can be relaxing and rewarding and help show what life as a law student is life to a significant other.
Dating in law school is a matter of personal preference and should be decided on the basis of whether adding a relationship helps or hinders the law school experience. Dating can be a wonderful release of stress, but also a major cause of stress in an already stressful world.
Law school, unlike medical school or grad school, is fixed at either 3 or 4 years and then there’s the bar exam. Knowing the end goal can help a law student decide whether to pursue dating or stay away until the degree is finished.