So, what do Highlander, The Karate Kid and law school have in common? They all highlight the importance of balance.
As I sit here, at home in my study, I decided that I had better write something for my blog before something else takes priority. I have been thinking about this for weeks, but just haven’t found the time. There was always something else that needed to get done first. This is why I think balance is so important for us as law students. It seems as if we are going, going, going all the time, with barely a minute to catch our collective breath. Studying, meetings, family, sleep – if we spend time on one, then there never seems to be enough time to spend on the others.
This semester, I started by biting off more than I could chew. I took my role as Student Ambassador for the Admissions Office to heart and spent a lot of time talking to new students in order to help them with the transition into law school. Although I did this willingly and very much enjoyed it, it ate up more of my time than I expected. I met with students individually and in groups, and I tried to give helpful advice on Facebook. I also agreed to write this blog, figuring that a few paragraphs every once in a while would be no problem. (Ha!)
As Co-Chair of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Society, I spent a considerable amount of time prepping for our Fall Negotiation Competition. Thanks to the dedication of the other executive board members, it was a stunning success. We had a record number of students compete and a record number of students inducted into the society. Again, although I am very pleased with the outcome, time was taken away from other important areas.
There are many other non-class related, non-family related drains on my time as a law student. I am a 2L (second year) Class Representative to the Widener Student Bar Association. This brings its own set of obligations. I am also an active member of Phi Alpha Delta, the largest student organization on campus. Student organizations at Widener Law put on many interesting and informative events and I try to attend as many as I can. Last week LALSA hosted a fantastic panel discussion on The Dream Act and its implications. Next week PAD will put on an unprecedented mock trial featuring the Philadelphia Homicide ADA going against one of the highest profile defense attorneys in Philadelphia. Events like these are invaluable to understanding how what we learn in class is applied in the real world. Even so, with over two dozen student organizations on campus, the pros and cons of the time commitment must be weighed.
All of this must be balanced with what I think are the two most important time commitments for a law student: studying and home life. I spend fifteen hours per week in class. I spend twenty-five to thirty-five hours per week actually studying, and even more than that before finals. I have begun listening to audio lectures in the car, trying to make more efficient use of my thirty minute drive to and from school. As for home life, I am very lucky to have such a supportive wife who understands that I need to spend so much time studying and being involved on campus. We still try to make time for each other and put everything else aside, but it is sometimes easier said than done.
Each law student may have different obligations and priorities, but we all need to balance them the best we can in order to be successful.