Your Turn: “How Can I Balance Law School and Love?”

In a feature I call “Your Turn,” in which you, the readers, get to answer the question, I’m presenting the following letter without commentary from me:

I just started law school a couple weeks ago. It’s been busy, but fun and interesting so far. However, even though looking for a relationship at this very moment is the last thing on my mind, I can’t help but think about my situation. I went through undergrad boyfriend-less because I was shy and self-conscious about my weight. So what now? School’s my priority, but I don’t want to be single forever. I’d like to have someone to call a boyfriend once in my life!

How do people manage a relationship and a demanding professional school? Am I going to have to wait another three to four more years to find a relationship? Next, besides the fact that I’m still shy about these relationship matters, I don’t even know where to meet dates. “Law-cest” is frowned upon, kind of rightly so because of the shared classes and lockers (!), but law school is pretty much where we’re all going to be for the next few years. Of course, there are guys here I find attractive, but it feels early, although it’d be great to become friends with them. I am in a new city, but I don’t know how much time I’ll have to do the things people say to do to meet new people.— Legal Love


  1. Online dating. It worked for me (I’m now a year and a half into my relationship) and it worked for my brother (he’s now married to the girl he met online 4 years ago).

    Online dating will allow you to meet and talk to guys on your own time (between classes, from your dorm room, etc). You can pick and choose who/when to meet up with and you can ask them to meet you for something simple like coffee on campus. If you’re shy, it’ll also give you a chance to talk to someone and get to know them over the anonymity of the net, before meeting in person.

    It’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but it worked for people I know so it’s worth a try.

    1. The_Yellow_Dart says:

      I agree with this. I would also suggest speed dating as a way of meeting new people to date (that’s how I met my boyfriend!) – and if you live in a city, there’s a good chance that it is being offered in some form or other. It’s also probably a better alternative to “Law-cest” – you might meet someone you like in your program, but if things don’t work out, it might be impossible to get away from that person for the next few years…

      About making time for dating, I’d like to add something. It really comes down to desire, as in how much do you really want a boyfriend? I’m still in school, too, and I’ve been very busy through most of it, but I’ve still managed to make time for my boyfriend. It’s not because work gets easier the longer you’ve been at it; it’s because I’ve gotten better at balancing my responsibilities and priorities. To be honest, it will be hard for you to start a relationship if school is your main “priority” and “looking for a relationship at this very moment is the last thing on [your] mind.” It’s good to start learning how to make time for other things – not just boyfriends – but activities, friends, and things to get you out of your shell in general. Otherwise, it’s a slippery slope to workaholism…

    2. I ABSOLUTELY second the online dating suggestion. Four years ago, when I was 23, I started a rigorous graduate program, and had also gone through undergrad boyfriend-less and was ready to start dating more seriously, even though school was (and still is) my priority. I met a wonderful medical student, who was just as busy as I was, and we’re getting married in less than 3 weeks.

      I think there are 2 keys to making it work:

      1) Understand that not every guy out there will be so understanding of how busy you are. I’ve had friends who’ve told me that they could never date someone as busy as a medical student/resident and they don’t know how I do it. I highly recommend looking for other professional students out there (grad students, vet students, med students, dental students, etc.) who will understand how school needs to come first, and who will be just as busy as you are.

      2) Time management! If you’re good at managing your time, surely you can find time to pencil in some dates here and there!

      GOOD LUCK!

      1. I second the point about looking for other professional students. My boyfriend is also a phd student (in another program), and the fact that we understand the demands of each other’s programs means that we don’t get frustrated when they take over. Sometimes as a student, your work/school demands are all you can fit in reasonably (before a big deadline like an exam or conference for instance) and it’s nice to be with someone who understands that kind of pressure.

    3. AliceInDairyland says:

      Yes! Yes! YES! As I mentioned before, I just started my first semester of veterinary school (and have my first Anatomy Exam tomorrow afternoon! AHHH!!) so I completely understand the feeling of vet school suddenly being my entire life. I spent like 24 hours with a dead dog the past weekend/beginning of the week in order to memorize all its muscles. How can you not feel overwhelmed by that?

      BUT, I met my boyfriend on OKCupid and we are celebrating our one year anniversary next week! Right when we started dating I was in the massive over-stress mode of applying for school. I really liked how I could plan dates on my time, and weed out people who I obviously knew wouldn’t work with my schedule and my life. There were definitely lots of grad students/professional students on there which surprised me! My boyfriend is an organic farmer, so although he doesn’t have exams or tests I don’t see him at all in the Spring unless I want to plant things… so he understands when I am also busy.

      Just make a profile and see what is out there! Also don’t be afraid to message a guy, even if you are shy (like me) it is a lot easier to send a message to someone than walk up to them at a bar. My boyfriend told me on our first date that he hardly EVER had a woman message him and that it really impressed him.

      Good luck and congratulations on Law School!

      1. I also met my boyfriend of a year and a half on OKCupid. I would slightly disagree with the suggestion of trying to meet other professional/grad students, though. I’m a grad student, and it’s refreshing to be with someone who has a relatively normal life and can get me out of academic mode. But I did meet some other nice grad students on OKCupid, so they’re out there too!

        I would also add that you just started, so you might want to wait a couple of months to get a handle on your schedule and everything before throwing in a bunch of dates. Being in a new environment and having new expectations can be overwhelming enough. That said, you won’t have to put your romantic life on hold for four years. Good luck!

  2. artsygirl says:

    LW – I think you are putting too much pressure on yourself. If you are following the typical school trajectory then you are in your early 20s. That is way too young to be panicking about singledom. If you find someone who you want to be with then you will make it work despite long school hours, distance, etc. I was in an intense MA program and I made a relationship work as do countless others. As for how to find people, I would first worry about connecting with your peers. Make sure to put yourself out there and go to happy hours, study groups and the other events your program hosts. That way you will become more comfortable interacting with new people (an important trait in a lawyer as well as someone entering the dating scene). After you get a handle on your school schedule you can branch out and see if you university offers clubs or classes on things that interest you – a great way to meet people with similar tastes. Best of luck and congrats on law school!

  3. JennyTalia says:

    GO TO THE GYM! In a nice way of course :). If you’re shy and self-conscious about your weight, working out will definitely help your self image and confidence. Plus there are plenty of people at the gym from all walks of life – not just law school – making it a great place to meet both friends and potential mates. You already have something to talk about (working out) so breaking the ice is easy. If you’re shy about going to a gym-gym, try out some fitness classes (eg Zumba). It’s a great way to meet friends (mostly women) who may know a single male with whom you set you up.

    As far as balancing school and a relationship – it will come. Don’t try to plan all aspects of your life, just let them fall into place. If your relationship can’t handle your hectic and busy schedule, then it’s not right the relationship for you.

    1. spanishdoll says:

      Am I the only one that doesn’t ever talk to anybody at the gym? I have literally never struck up a conversation with a stranger while working out because, well, I’m working out and in the zone. And this is after 6 years of going to the gym 3-4 days a week.

      I’m obviously an antisocial exerciser. ;P

      1. landygirl says:

        I’m with you, anti social exercise is the way to go.

      2. yeah, me too. I’ve been working out at gyms for the past 12 years and not once have I met someone new that way. And, I prefer it that way. Add one more to anti-social exercise club.

      3. JennyTalia says:

        Eh, I’m a fitness instructor at my gym so I’m naturally bubbly and outgoing there because I’m trying to recruit people for my class. I get that in a traditional gym setting, it’s not as social but there are ways to talk to people if you want to (Are you using this bench? etc). My gym is also small and most people recognize each other on a daily basis so it’s comfortable to talk to each other.

        However from a friends perspective, joining a group fitness class is definitely the way to go – I see so many new friendships form in my class, it’s inspiring.

      4. SpaceySteph says:

        Absolutely with you. If someone got on the elliptical next to me and started a conversation I would hate them.

        But! There’s also exercise classes at the gym. I play softball through my gym and go to yoga class and in both of those situations I make friends- with my softball teammates and chatting either before or after class with friendly people. So it is possible to make friends or even find dates this way (although yoga is predominately women so it might be harder to find a guy that way… but I met my current bf on my softball team).

      5. I never talk to anybody else. Turn on the iPod and off I go.

      6. EscapeHatches says:

        I’ve had brief conversations with people at the gym,but those are pretty rare. I’m there for a purpose, usually before work, so I wanna get in and out and done.

        The people who wander around the gym with a water bottle and a towel, but never do a rep make my brain hurt.

      7. No. I got really annoyed by that when I was going regularly.

      8. Me too. Hell, a bunch of my girlfriends sort of have a regular gym date time, and even if I go at the same time I basically ignore them while I’m there. I like being antisocial when I exercise. It’s my destress just for me time.

      9. I’m with ya, I go to the gym with a bunch of friends, and don’t even like talking to them, because when I do it adds to much time, and I’m at the gym forever! I like to get in, get out, and get home!

      10. Same here. I feel so icky and sweaty, the LAST thing I would want to do is actually TALK to someone.

      11. 6napkinburger says:

        But probably not the “fitness center” on campus. There you have to make small talk with people and it’s always a little weird but them you just smile at them each time you see them and before you know it you’re “gym friends”

        Also lawcest is bad sure, but it is bound to happen. For some people it’s their spouses, for others it is just part of the drama of law school which bears a striking resemblence to high school but with more booze and sex. I highly recommend dating a fellow student (if not in your program than a different field) as they’re the int ones that get that there is always more work that can be done, even though the final isn’t for 3 months. I was a student and remember it well but could not handle dating an MBA student now because I cant stand always being second to that workload, which I get, but I paid my dues and don’t want to deal with it anymore. Sorry where was I? Gym = great idea, school gym = way to make eye contact hat leads to talking later; date a student = fantastic idea b/c They get it and you can study together as dates.

  4. Contrary to popular belief, even if you’re busy, there IS still time to date/have a relationship. You just need to find the right balance. My suggestion is to not force a relationship just because you want to be in one. Things will come in time as they’re meant to be.

    How can you do it, you ask? We all know all work and no play doesn’t work for ANYBODY. Pencil in your free time. Find a time either on an evening or on the weekend where you’re not studying or worrying about an upcoming test or anything and spend time with your friends. Girlfriends, guy friends, whatever. Go out and do what you like to do. Maybe it’s hanging out at a coffee shop or a bar or going to your local bookstore. If you’re religious, get involved at a local church. Start volunteering at a Humane Society if you love animals. When you’re doing things you like, you have more of a chance to find someone with similar interests. You may not be approached right away for a relationship, but maybe you’ll find someone who you enjoy hanging out with and people who might be good candidates for your potential relationships.

    Another thing: to me, that “law-cest” sounds like complete bull. If you like somebody who just happens to be in your class…then GO FOR IT. Take a shot and ask that person out. If you just sit back passively and wait and wait and wait for someone to ask you either in your law classes or other aspects of your life…well, dearie, you’ll be waiting for a looong time. Guys appreciate a girl who takes the bull by the horns. What’s the worst that could happen? A few seconds of embarrassment. I’ve asked 4 guys out on dates and I’m batting .500 — two of them said yes (one being my boyfriend of 2+ years)! It’s worth it. Stop waiting and start being proactive about your love life.

    1. GatorGirl says:

      I disagree about the “law-cest.” Your fellow students are considered your collegues at this stage in education. Collegues that you have to work with for years on end in very close, stressful situations. Dating a co-worker is often frowned upon. It’s better not to mix business and pleasure in this situation.

      1. lawlstudent says:

        Lawcest is frowned on, sure, and if you do date someone in your class, it’ll be seen as a source of gossip. But dating outside of your section is good enough, and most major cities have several law schools and a number of mixers between them. As a law student dating a lawyer, I love how our schedules work together, how he understands what I’m going through, and we even share textbooks for some classes. Just be discrete and don’t start drama.

  5. I definitely agree with MissDre about online dating. I met my husband online and I had a lot of fun in the process. You don’t have to be looking for anything serious, but just connecting with people will give you confidence and a way to relax from the stresses of school. My husband and I joke when we see those commercials that say that 1 in 5 relationships start online that soon they’re going to say 1 in 4 and then 1 in 3. It really is a great way to meet people that you otherwise wouldn’t come in contact with and if you’re smart about it, it’s a very safe way to get to know someone. You can meet people on your schedule and as often or as little as you want and have time for.

    1. JennyTalia says:

      Agreed. It’s a great way to meet someone casually. Lots of people meet their soulmate online, but I would suggest going in with low expectations and seeing what happens. OkCupid has bought me more dinners than I can remember, and I had fun meeting people in the process – but I also wasn’t necessarily looking for anything serious, just to meet people in a new area.

    2. And as for waiting 4 more years to meet someone, my bestfriend can’t wait to go to grad school next year because that’s where she says she will finally meet an educated, intelligent, and ambitious guy. So you’re already right in the middle of an excellent pool of candidates!!

    3. But just a word of caution… a lot of guys online are just looking for sex. You may go through 5 assholes before you meet a good one. The best way to avoid that is to just be honest up front about what you’re looking for (it’s ok if you ARE looking for just sex, but if what you want is a relationship, there’s no shame in being honest about it… always ask for what you want).

      1. Absolutely. One of the great things about online dating is that you can be honest about your expectations without the pressure of having to please anyone else. You don’t have to be what you think guys want, you just have to be yourself (your most charming version).

        And I would say beware of guys everywhere, online or not, that are only looking for sex if that isn’t what you want. Especially if you have little experience in dating.

  6. Hi LW! I’m currently in my last year of law school, and I met my current boyfriend last Summer. I can identify with a lot of your concerns, but I assure you, dating while in law school doesn’t have to be so difficult. As far as law-cest… personally, I don’t find myself attracted to guys in law school (I think for a number of reasons, including the fact that I am a few years older than most of them) but that doesn’t mean that dating within law school is bad. There are lots of couples at my school, and no one frowns on that. We’re all adults here… as long as you conduct yourself respectfully, I don’t think you have anything to worry about. If you meet someone that really seems worthwhile, you’re in the perfect climate to get to know them gradually without much pressure. I personally am a big believer in meeting dates in school/work situations, because it lets you get to know people naturally. Of course, you’ve got to be smart about that- take things slow, and don’t burn bridges.

    Also, you mentioned that you’ve had some struggles with your weight and consequently, self-esteem. I’d recommend that you get involved in some fun intramural sports team through school, or a school jogging club or something (yes law schools have those!). A lot of law students seem to get out of shape in law school (I guess it’s the stress plus sitting on your butt a lot), and joining a sport like that would not only help you avoid getting out of shape, but it might help you feel more comfortable in your body and have the added benefit of really getting to know your classmates and their friends outside of school. Networking is absolutely *vital* to the legal field anyway, and trust me, you will be interacting with your classmates much more than you think in the future. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a class with someone and then seen them out at some random legal event, or even at an internship. And an extra bonus of networking? Getting to know people may lead to a romantic link somewhere along the line. It’s a numbers game, the more people you meet, the better chance you have of meeting a romantic interest.

    Anyway, I know that law school seems daunting in your first year, but it definitely gets easier. Don’t neglect friendships with classmates, put yourself out there, and treat your studies as a full time job. The work is not as laid back as most undergraduate programs, but it isn’t ridiculous so long as you stay on top of it. I have no real trouble balancing my long term relationship with my schoolwork… I get my work done during the day when he’s working, it’s really not so bad at all.

    And another random non-relationship tip for you- don’t worry about what the other students are doing, or say they are doing. People in law school tend to start comparing themselves to others academically- I think because of the crazy curve grading system- and it’s easy for you to start doubting yourself. Trust me, no one really knows what they’re doing, as much as they may act like it. And don’t worry too much about getting called on in class and grilled by the professors- it’s embarrassing to not know the answer sometimes, but *grades* are all about the Finals. Figure out an effective method of Finals studying for yourself, don’t just do what everyone tells you as far as outlining etc. I like to repeat to myself- study smart, not hard. Lots of law students spin their wheels making detailed outlines, only to find that they have no idea what to write on Finals day. Find a method that works for you and go with it. I’d recommend taking lots of practice tests. Remember, law school grades matter, and they are based on Final Exams, not class discussions or who has the most thorough outline. Final Exams.

    Good luck LW!

    1. Hey LW – I am also in my last year of law school, and I promise it is possible to balance love and law. I met a 3L at an SBA event the second week of school, and we made it work for two years – and law school had nothing to do with why things ended. Like HmC, I know plenty of couples within my school, and as long as you aren’t engaging in excessive amounts of on-campus canoodling, no one is really phased by it. I know you mentioned that you’re older than a lot of your classmates, and while I don’t doubt that, you might be surprised at how many are older than you think. Also – don’t forget there are two other classes of brand new people to meet, not just the 1Ls you sit next to in every class. Making friends with 2Ls and 3Ls will give you someone to ask advice of, someone to hang out with when the 1L stress level gets to bee too much, and opens up a much wider world of people. And speaking of a wider world, does your school have a business school? A graduate student union that organizes events? Most law students are pretty well insulated in the law school bubble, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Take a little time each week or month to do something you like (I volunteer and do a choir), and not only will it help you retain your life balance, but you might also meet some fun people.

      And as for school, the two things I have found the most helpful to remember are: No one is as on the ball as they seem (and if they are they’re probably neurotic), and practice tests are an absolutely necessary part of any finals prep routine.

      Good luck!!

      1. I just finished law school in May and I met my current boyfriend during 1L. He was a med student at the same grad school and we met while out at a local bar through mutual friends. We spent a lot of time in the library during the first year or so, but it was pretty fun! It was really nice having someone who, at least sort of, knew what I was going through and I think I provided the same for him. Now I am clerking, and he is a resident and our understanding still keeps a lot of problems at bay.

        I had a ton of friends who met each other in law school and had long-term relationships. Some broke up and it was sort of awkward, but no more awkward than it would normally be to run into your ex regularly and some are getting married this year! I also committed fairly innocent law-cest with several of my classmates before meeting my bf, and it was never a weird thing. I am still friends with the guys.

        As far as school goes, good luck! Keep reading and don’t listen to anyone’s advice too seriously. You have to figure out what works for you. I outlined at the last minute and got stressed out like crazy by practice tests, which is the complete opposite of some of my friends. I did well, and stayed relatively happy throughout!

      2. “fairly innocent” lawcest? with “several”? I wonder if boyfriend knows about this…

    2. Beckaleigh says:

      The one thing I noticed about my friends who dated when we were all in law school is that they tended to date someone who was a year ahead of them. It was actually nice to see my friends with people who were going through the same things. People who are also in law school or another professional school with you know that its nothing personal if you need to disappear for two weeks for finals, or two months to study for the bar exam. So, since you will be spending a lot of time at school, it only makes sense that you will meet someone there and it is possible to make it work. And cheer up because law school gets easier after you become a 2L!

  7. I think the LW shouldn’t be so focused on avoiding “law cest”. I have 2 siblings, a sibling-in-law, and countless friends who have gone through law school or are in it. Everyone dates everyone, even if its frowned upon. In fact, it DOES seem to be an incestuous little group. My sister met her husband during law school, and many of her friends met their current boyfriend/husband throughout the experience as well. You spend so much time with these people that dating, relationships, and hookups become unavoidable. Don’t use your new busy schedule as an excuse to not date someone. In fact, dating another law student can make a relationship a little easier because you have met someone who understands your busy schedule, instead of someone who resents it. Even though your first year (and semester) of law school can be quite overwhelming, you simply cannot do work all the time or you will have a mental breakdown. Like another reader suggested, pencil in your free time just like you would pencil in a doctor’s appointment. You can use that time for dating or hanging out with friends. Plus, just try to focus on your life and school and someone will come along. I always find my boyfriends when I stop looking. Just be open to the experience when they come along whether it be a couple of casual dates, a fun fling, or “the one”.

  8. When I went to law school there was a lot of “law-cest” going on. Sometimes there was drama but no one didn’t graduate because of it and actually several couples ended up getting married after graduation. I wouldn’t let the pressures of law school prevent you from pursuing love – law school is a dream compared to what comes after in the real world and if you can’t find time for romance during school then there is no way you are going to find time for it after until you are well into your practice. Quite frankly if you are the shy type meeting someone at school is probably the best and easiest way to make a connection. So make friends with the guys you are interested in – quite frankly make friends with anyone nice – and see what happens and don’t close the door on anything. I’ve seen plenty people fly under the radar in that way to great success. Oh and don’t stress about your size. Everyone is someone else’s favourite flavour.

    1. Great last phrase. Nicely done.

  9. ele4phant says:

    My situation is somewhat different than yours in that I already had an established relationship going into grad school (IMO an established relationship is less time intensive in some ways than dating around or starting a new relationship) but still, everything comes down to scheduling.

    Its not fun to have to sit down a schedule out every minute of your life, but if you don’t dictate what portion of your time should be dedicated to study, recreation, dating, ect, you run the risk of letting all your time get eaten up by school.

    Sit down the beginning of every term, and come out with a weekly schedule for that term that blocks out time for when you have class, when you will work, when you will study, when you will play, and stick to it. It can be hard, but don’t let school work impinge on your down time, you need it.

    Then, in the time you’ve dedicated, date (whether that means online, blind dates, going to bars, a fun activity you love, whatever). Good luck!

    1. I totally agree! I was in an LDR in grad school (3.5 hours driving, so not across the country kind of distance) so I saw my bf every other weekend. He was literally on my calendar. And then I had to schedule my homework/writing around him visiting me or me visiting him. It makes you more disciplined and then you can truely enjoy your time off.

  10. atraditionalist says:

    I commit law-cest all the time and it’s fun! I’m in second year law now and I haven’t slept with anybody in law school but I’ve dated a lot of guys. Honestly, I don’t know where else to meet them-I’m always in class, the library or at the bar with people from law school. Just don’t be skanky and be respectful and you’ll be respected-I still get asked out even though I went out with a ton of guys last year. Just date around-learn what you like and what you don’t like.

  11. Addie Pray says:

    LW – I went to law school. I can tell you that everybody dates everybody in law school. And it’s ok. (It’s like high school, except every thinks they’re so much smarter than everybody else. Until their first semester grades come in, that is. The blow softens everyone’s egos, and from there on out it’s smooth sailing.) So don’t fret. In fact, dating in law school is fun – lots of single people, with shared interests, and … in the dead of winter those cold late nights in the library can make people go wild… So go for it! No one will judge you, I promise. The only people in law school that people are *still* judging are the ones who were gunners in class (annoying) and like to drop latin phrases in every day conversations (per se annoying). So just don’t be that person.

  12. Classic law student “stealth bragging.” Shut the hell up.

    1. LW and the rest of you.

      1. Addie Pray says:

        LSAT scores weren’t high enough, eh?

    2. Please take your judgmental negativity elsewhere.

    3. um i’m pretty sure you can substitute grad school, undergrad, demanding job, just want to get out there, etc for law school and the advice most of the people are giving would fit for any of them. the basics of the question are how do i make time for a relationship, not go me i’m in law school.

    4. Why so angry? No one is stopping you from making something of your life.

  13. Chillax..from a shyness perspective you will know a guy is right for you when you aren’t worried about being shy.

    If you are worried about time commitment then look for guys as busy as you. I think the biggest issue at your spot in life is one partner demanding too much time of the other. if you are both busy and committed it will work out easier.

    DO NOT fall for the first guy that expresses interest…unless you vet him carefully…I.e. don’t swoon because he makes you feel so special if you aren’t that experienced in dating because that can cause future headaches.

    1. SpaceySteph says:

      “from a shyness perspective you will know a guy is right for you when you aren’t worried about being shy”

      So true. I’m super shy. But when I started crushing on my current bf, I was a completely different brazen hussie type of person. And when he didn’t take the bait, I asked him out. Definitely not my usual shy self.

    2. moonflowers says:

      Also true about not falling for the first guy that shows any interest. If you can’t put in words exactly why you like him, then it’s too soon to say you truly like him for who he is and not just for the idea of him/a relationship. Hold out for someone you truly adore, who truly adores you!

  14. honeybeenicki says:

    I don’t really have a lot to add because I agree with most people here about ways to find someone as well as just finding a nice balance to it. When I met my husband, I was a full time student during the day and working full time at nights (3rd shift) and putting in extra hours over the weekends. That progressed to still being a full time student at night to working a full time and a part time job and ultimately being a graduate student while working a full time job and 2 part time jobs. Its NOT easy by any means, but we made it work. I just had to find ways to prioritize and stay organized. Some days or weeks the only “alone time” we got was the two of us on the couch, he would watch a movie while I would read/do research/write a paper/etc. When there were school breaks, I always made sure we had a lot of good, quality time together.

    Really, I just wanted to let you know that it is possible. It might seem like it wouldn’t even be feasible, but it really is if you can stay organized. And congrats on getting into law school 🙂 That’s my next stop in the world of education, but I need to pay off some of my loans first.

  15. Buzzelbee says:

    I can’t believe how many law students and attorneys are on here!

    I second everyone else on online dating and getting to know people but have a few thoughts on balancing law school and dating. I am a couple of years out of law school and managed to not only maintain my long term relationship through school but also planned a wedding and got married the summer after my 2L year. You can date/have a relationship and be sucessful in school, even an intense scary one. But I think it’s important to point out that you can’t do everything. As I’m sure you know, in law school it isn’t just classes. There’s journals, clinics, internships, networking events, student associations, worrying about summering at a firm etc. You can’t do it all. Even if you are single you just can’t do everything and sleep and maintan your mental health (which is more important than your classmates might make you think). So you have to prioritize. Law school is an important time to focus on your career path and do as much as you can to set yourself up for the working world, let’s face it it is hard out there for attorneys, but you don’t have to do everything to have it work out. I chose to not even try and get onto a journal because I knew I wanted to do a clinic program and be involved with a student organizion and the billion other things available and it worked out fine, I’m happily married and fortunately employed. So let yourself off the hook if you are worried about participating in everything and taking every opportunity, there’s just too much.

    I don’t know if your school has it but if there is a mentor program with upper classmen you should try and get involved. You can learn what things are more important than others, what professors you should avoid even if you have to take evidence 3L year to do it, and you can make friends that way. If there isn’t a formal program join clubs and go talk to the leaders/board members. My 3L year I made friends with 1L and 2Ls that way. Then maybe you can feel better about taking time for friends and dating and the whole having a life thing.

  16. Ohmygod, not what you wanted to know, but drop out now. The market is not good for lawyers, and the supply is ENORMOUS. The misery you will be experiencing in job searching in the coming years should be avoided at all costs. In today’s legal market, the only people whom I don’t advise to drop out immediately are people who A) actually want to be practicing lawyers AND AND AND B) are going to law school on someone else’s dime (scholarship or parental). I guess 3Ls, also. But I’d advise even a 2L starting her second year to drop out now, honest to god.

    1. Addie Pray says:

      Agree, wholeheartedly.

      1. Addie Pray says:

        But, sometimes it’s not *just* about the high paying job at the end. I personnally loved law school and would do it all over again in a heart beat. Practicing law? Very different.

      2. Hell, I like what I do now, and law school didn’t crush my spirit particularly, on the merits, and this is still my advice. It’s just not a good time to do this, but that’s only really apparent once you’re entrenched enough to not want to quit. Sigh.

      3. Addie Pray says:

        … yeah, i hear you …

    2. I agree! As someone who just graduated law school and is yet to find a job, make sure that this is something you really want to do. I liked law school and I want to practice. I’m lucky enough right now to have a part time job in the legal field, but when I went into law school I just assumed I’d graduate, get in with a great firm and it would be so easy. Its not that easy, there are not that many jobs and fierce competition for all of them. I just spoke to one of my friends who took an unpaid internship (after graduation) and her interviewer told her she recieved a huge stack of resumes for the position, mostly graduates who were just desperate to keep their foot in the legal world.

    3. Temperance says:

      I’m sorry, but I think this is really, really unhelpful. The market for lawyers *is* getting better, and I’m frankly sick of people attacking law students like this. I seriously can’t mention law school without someone feeling the need to inform me of how hard it is to find a job, how the debt will kill me, etc. My personal favorite is when I mention it in passing about something totally innocuous, and people who have no experience with law school feel the need to tell me that I’d be better off becoming a plumber.

      You don’t say what makes you qualified to make this judgment, either.

      1. lawlstudent says:

        The market is getting better, but in a bifurcated way. The top 6 schools or so had great OCIs this year, even students at median, and the people at lower ranked schools are having a really, really tough time, even people in the top quarter or higher of their class.

        But don’t worry about other people telling you that, Temperance. Just do what I did–land a great job, and then when people tell you how terrible the market is, tell them that it didn’t seem to affect you. haters gonna hate.

      2. Yale UG, Harvard law school (cum laude), former federal clerk, current public interest lawyer. I know of what I speak.

      3. Oh, and I was crying in my office at my clerkship last year over how hard the job search was for me. So I specifically know of what I speak.

      4. well, it was bad enough to warrent articles written in newpapers, which is how i found out about it, and i am no where connected to law schools. it has to be pretty dire for someone to write about it, right?

      5. I just finished law school and am living the situation, so I think I can safely say I know what I’m talking about. I’m not saying one shouldn’t go to law school, I’m just saying it is something to think about. Especially if you are taking out loans. One of my friends is about to have $1600 in total monthly loans between her and her husband coming through and is still on the job search. That’s a very very real consideration to think about if you are taking out loans for school.
        And I don’t know where the job market it getting better, but it sure as hell isn’t in Cincinnati where I live.

  17. Princess Bananahammock says:

    You’re over-thinking this. Law school isn’t that much work. It seems like it now because it is so new. The law-cest will start soon enough, and your school probably does cross-department socials with the B-school students, med students, and/or grad students. Chill out, make friends, let it happen naturally.

  18. Do not commit Lawcest if you are at a tiny law school…If the classes are bigger, than you may as well. But seriously, err on the side of caution. My best friend started dating this guy who cheated on her with this other girl. Guess what? They all ended up being in the same class their second year and even sitting close to one another. So no. My advice is that if you are at a campus with a medical school, etc., is to join a volunteer club or something along those lines that involves people who are not in the law school. You may end up meeting a cute doctor to be or a grad student. Or try online dating….The chances are endless…If you are worried about your self-esteem, you just have to keep telling yourself that some people are jerks but there are more decent, kind people out there.

  19. Law school is THE PLACE to find dates! Trust me. I went, and I had the time of my life, as far as dating in concerned. I hardly dated at all in undergrad, but I had over a dozen potential boyfriends in the three years I was in law school. Law school is small and intimate–you really get to know people–and it is chock full of available men. It’s like high school, but way better. Just think–when else in your life are you going to spend hours each day in a room with 50 other men about your age? And at least half of them will be single and looking. Plus, there are so many socials, events, and parties, that dating and flirting will just happen. Trust me. Law school is the place for dating. And I’m not just speaking from my personal experience alone–I know so many girls who got their first serious boyfriends in law school. Just have fun! It will be the best three years of your life!

  20. I think there is a lot of good advice here. When I went to law school (graduated in ’97) there was no online dating. I don’t think Google had been invented yet.

    I had worked in the “real world” before school, so I tried to make sure I was in the library early like when I was working. I generally got my work done so that I did not study very often in the evenings.

    As far as dating, I never dated another law student, but plenty of my classmates did and I don’t remember any problems. If you are in a decent size city, try to take advantage of the opportunities there. If a college town, don’t be afraid of mixing with the other students. My 2 cents.

  21. BroGoddess says:

    I am a 3L at a relatively small law school. All my classmates spend way too much time with each other, and a lot of high school-ish drama goes on. So before you make a decision to date someone in school, you have to consider if he is worth it. It is very typical for 1L’s to hook up with/casually date someone in their class and then be stuck seeing that person for the next 2-3 years. I’d recommend building a friendship with a law school crush before ever going out on a date. If you don’t see long term potential it’s not worth the b.s. Online dating is an option, but if that isn’t for you I’d second the advice about other grad students. As a 1L I met an amazing guy who was in a master’s program at the same school, and we dated until he graduated this past May (and remain in touch). We had an agreement to put things on hold while either one of us was studying, but at the same time he was an escape from the all-consuming nature of school. Best of luck to you and don’t be intimidated. You can do it!

  22. Temperance says:

    I’m a law student, 2L, so I feel like I might be able to help out! I’ve been in a relationship for the past 7 years, but I have a lot of friends who are in law school and dating.

    My first advice to you is to go to happy hours and mixers with other law schools; I’m in Philadelphia, so we have a whole bunch nearby and our clubs regularly have meetings with other schools. It’s a great way to meet dudes who get why you can’t hang out on a weekend that your memo is due.

  23. As someone who has been there – – get through your first year, make your new law friends and get through exams. Then the hardest part is over and maybe a law friend will have a friend or do online dating (what I did) – I met my now husband spring of my 3rd year.

    I do recommend you focusing on school year 1 and then worry about love.

  24. My parents met in law school and they’re still happily married – I believe it’s been 26 years now? So you can meet someone. I think as long as you make wise decisions and don’t gain a really trashy reputation you’ll be fine. Just be classy and friendly!

    Also, you could date another grad student or professional student, but you could also just date a professional. I don’t think it matters what he does as long as he’s independent and able to do just fine on his own while you’re studying your law. If you date someone, you just need to find someone who is okay with your busy schedule. My boyfriend is an engineering major and the first couple of months that we were dating I did not see him very much because he studied so much. It bothered me sometimes but I know school is way more important. Now, he probably spends a little too much time with me and should probably study more…lol.

    Just relax! Or as much as you can anyways….just stay on top of things, get things done quickly and make sure you go out and have fun!

  25. Good grief, woman, stop overthinking this! This flurry of analysis, while good practice for lawyerin’, is all a smokescreen to cover your real issues.

    You’re trying to find reasons why you can’t have a boyfriend (Law-cest! Too much work! It’s too early!) so that you have something to blame for not having one. All of this explanatory noise is simply an attempt to hide the fact that you’re lonely.

    Confront that. Own it. Put your excuses aside. Admit that you’re lonely and take the steps to solve it.

  26. Painted_lady says:

    I didn’t do law school, but I got an MFA in theatre, and it was time-intensive if not study-intensive. We were all expected to hold down jobs as part of the production staff, which meant rehearsals, production meetings, build, teaching the undergrads who were our cheap labor, and maintenance during performance. I also stage managed and worked in several professional theaters in my city, plus classes, organizations, and other teaching obligations, as well as being required to see certain productions outside of school. After my first semester, my best friend, who was in the program with me, decided we needed designated nights off. They were flexible to a point, but during regular weeks – no tech/dress rehearsal week, no finals – we got one night M-F off and eight hours on the weekend where we couldn’t do anything school-related. We went dancing, unearthed new bars and coffee shops, made dumb decisions, went on terrible dates, slept with guys from class, and had so much fun. We also both graduated summa cum laude because we held each other accountable for our work and our play. People make friends fast under stress, and you’re not the only person trying to figure out how to balance building a social life in a new city with not flunking out, so find a friend or two or three who will agree to hold you to both these things. It’s possible to kick ass in school and have some fun, crazy, amazing times as well – it doesn’t make you irresponsible. Also, find a place in town where you can work and do some socializing. Some of my favorite memories of grad school were when a group of us would take over a table at our favorite coffee shop or Mexican joint – both late-night, both with WiFi – and do research for class while eating and debating art and life and laughing till 3 am, and I also got my best grades in those classes. I got some phone numbers and a date or two on those nights as well. And especially at the beginning of a relationship, potential partners will appreciate that you have a full and happy, if stressful, life. Make time for them as you can allow yourself, but if you don’t drop everything to go out with some guy, then that sometimes makes you more attractive. People who want to date people who don’t have lives aren’t the kind of partner you’d want anyway.

  27. Law-cest is frowned upon? My sister, brother, and several of my friends are lawyers, and there were always people dating each other, both within the program and between law students in different programs. Law-cest is probably a great way to go–you share common interests and will understand the hectic schedule.

    If you really want to date, you’ll make time for it.

  28. Some great thoughts above.

    It can be tough to be shy of course. Try not to make excuses for yourself in the mean time though, like “I’m overweight” or “I’m a martyr to my school demands.” If you are really truly shy, my advice is to slowly practice taking small (social) risks. Just baby steps. Pick a small risk and take it. For instance, introduce yourself to a stranger you want to meet. Repeat until it’s easy. Take bigger and bigger risks until you don’t think of yourself as shy anymore.

    Core shyness does not serve people well generally, long-term personally or professionally. I suggest you break those old shy habits systematically. Good luck!

  29. All I have to say is when it is the right person and the right time, you won’t need to make time. It will just work out. If it isn’t the right time you could try and force something to happen with someone, but it won’t work out well. Don’t worry about being single or busy embrace what you have before you in life. When the right person comes a long no matter what your situation, things will fall into place because both you and the other person will put in the necessary effort. Good luck!

  30. SpaceySteph says:

    Want to agree with everyone that Law-cest is probably not as bad as you think. Fun anecdote on NASA-cest. As I type this I am mentoring/observing a new trainee in a simulation. His job today is to respond to a bunch of simulated failures on a simulated space station, to practice for the day all hell breaks loose onboard. Someone has to put those failures into the simulated space station though, and then evaluate his performance. This morning that person… is his girlfriend.
    My bf works here too, and though we work in different groups, we have both been in the same sim before too. And one day, we might be in mission control together too. Another couple, now broken up, have worked in mission control together on the same shift. And if they got assigned the same shift now that they’re broken up, they might not chat as much, but they could both save the space station together if the need arose.
    Point is, you can’t put a bunch of similarly aged people with similar interests together and not expect SOMETHING to happen. That pairing off is natural. The powers that be may “frown” all they want, but they aren’t stupid. They know its going to happen, and their frowning is to telegraph to you that you can keep your makeups and breakups on the down low and not let it bleed into class time. But what you do behind closed doors they can’t, and probably don’t really want to, stop.

  31. Everyone has given really good advice on dating above. I just wanted to throw in there that no matter how stressful law school gets (I know, I just got out!), you need to make time for other things. Even if you don’t have a boyfriend, make new friends, make time for them. Make time for keeping up with your friends and family back home and your hobbies. You will go crazy if all you do is law school!
    My first semester I was at school back in my hometown, but I had spent 4 years aways at school and most of my friends had moved out of the city. My now husband was still at the university I attended for undergrad, so I really didn’t know that many people. I was shy about it and for the first couple months I was a loner and didn’t really socialize that much. Then I met some girls in my class that I really clicked with, and that summer I did an internship program through the school where I got to know a bunch of my classmates better. Did I have my best semester grade-wise the semester I spent a chunk of it sitting by myself in the lunch room every day? Yes. Was I miserable and lonely because of it? Yes.
    I found a balance. I could still get good grades and go grab some lunch with friends instead of spending my lunch hour reading. So I guess my point is, dating or not, make time for other interests in law school or it will be a long, rough 3 years. Good luck!

  32. GatorGirl says:

    My BF is in a Phd program, so I’ve spent 3 years on the “other side” of your situation. We met while working at a restaurant before he started school, so he didn’t have to navigate the dating feild- but most of his friends have; my suggestions-

    -Online dating- just don’t take it to seriously on the first e-mail/message! In our area a lot of people us OKCupid but I would “shop” around and see what is the most used in you’re area.
    -Make friends in other departments. This is where a lot of my BF’s friends have found dates. Plus- they’ll know what you’re going through. (I commented earlier, but I am against dating with in your department)
    -Try to do something away from school. Church, volunteer, go out to a bar alone that isn’t frequented by the crowd.

    And work on you’re self first. Get to a place where you are happy with your body, emotionally stable and enjoying life on you’re own. You will be much more attractive to potential dates.

  33. I really think you just need to find away to make time. It seems like you are always going to be to busy to date, because after Law School, your work load is going to be pretty hectic aswell. The good news is that people in your situation do have boyfriends or girlfriends, and that is because they make time, and put themselves out there. You really just have to see if that is something you are willing to do right now. See if you are maybe willing to lose a little sleep, alone time, and some TV time to put yourself out there. So ultimately I think this is really going to come down to you finding away to make room in your schedule if this is something you really want to pursue right now!

  34. evanscr05 says:

    I had a similar situation when I started grad school 5 years ago. I went through pretty much my entire life with no real, long term boyfriends. I always had focused on school, my work, my friends, and myself, but I wanted to be with someone for the long haul. I turned to eHarmony. I didn’t have time to go out and meet someone, and I definitely didn’t want to waste any of my precious free time on guys that wouldn’t really turn in to anything anyway, so online really worked for me. I’m not saying this is what works best for everyone, this is just what I did. I work in IT and was working 40 hours a week AND spending 40+ hours a week ON TOP of that with master’s level IT school work. It was rough. But, I met my now-husband and made it work. He knew up front that I was going to be busy with work and school, but he was flexible with that because we had very similar long term goals. In fact, he has told me that part of why he was drawn to me in the first place was because he liked that education was important to me and that I obviously had drive to do what I needed to do to be successful. Any guy that is worth it will understand that your free time will be limited, but it will also be a short term situation, and will want to be supportive of you in all aspects of your life.

  35. One of my best friends from undergrad met a great guy at the beginning of law school. He proposed after they finished their 2nd year and they got married a few months after they graduated.

  36. Guy Friday says:

    Oh boy, oh boy. Finally a letter fully up my alley, as a not-too-far-removed law school grad 🙂 So many thoughts:

    1.) Law-cest isn’t really as bad as everyone makes it out to be. Law school, however, is socially like a small high school (don’t ask me why), so just keep that in mind when you do whatever you do. So, having a relationship and breaking up? Not really as huge a deal, though it might cause some temporary drama. Getting drunk at Bar Review and going home with someone? It might get discussed, and it probably would whether you’re a girl or a guy. And, unlike high school, the reputation can actually carry into the professional arena, as it has for a couple of people I graduated with (one male, one female, in case you thought this was a sexist thing) for whom it affected their job search a bit. That being said, it’s really more about HOW you handle your personal life, not WHAT your personal life is. Honestly, some of my best friends from law school married other law students. And, really, part of the benefit of dating another law student is the mutual understanding of the time crunches law school provides; as you’re probably finding out already, people claim they get what kind of pressure and stress and level of work law school throws at you, but most have no idea. On the other hand, the major downside I’ve found to dating another law student is the reason I never did it myself: we’re a strange breed for the most part, and we tend to get on each other’s nerves.

    2.) I totally get having very little time/energy to go out and join clubs and groups and whatnot. But assuming you’re looking outside of the law school for relationships, online dating is always a good avenue, especially since you can check it quickly in between classes and whatnot. Two other things that worked for me, though, were:
    a.) Living somewhere 10 or 15 minutes away from the law school. Granted, it was for pragmatic reasons as well; rent was much cheaper. But when I moved to my city, I decided not to live with law students (though I did that once during my time in law school too), and so I went on Craigslist and ended up renting a spare room with people who needed a roommate. Since I was able to hit it off with them, I ended up hanging out with their friends too, and I ended up being a lot more social than I would have been if I’d stuck to the law school-only route.
    b.) As sketchy as this may sound, you know what method worked really well for me, both in getting out and meeting people? There was a really amazing big park a few blocks from my apartment, so I walked over there with a cup of coffee and some of my textbooks on the weekends and wore a law school t-shirt (or sweatshirt, as it got cooler), and just chilled there for a few hours studying. If all else failed, I got some studying done and some fresh air. But it almost always happened that SOMEONE would see the law school logo as they walked by and strike up a conversation. Some conversations were just conversations, but others resulted in contacts and friendships and the odd date or two.

    3.) Go to as many professional events as possible. I don’t know what area you’re in, but where I was at, the local and state Bar Associations LOVED having students show up at events, and often let them come for free or a dramatically discounted rate. In other situations, the law school or professors who served on the boards of non-profit legal programs and/or supported local events would buy a table at some luncheon or other event and then invite law students to come. The professionals loved it because they got to almost pre-interview people for potential law clerk positions, and because they got to pat themselves on the back for “investing in future lawyers”; we loved it because, let’s face it, the food was AMAZING (and it was fun to network with lawyers, but mostly the food! 🙂 ) There’s never a downside to going.

    4.) Most importantly, DO NOT let law school define you. It’s going to be an important part of your life, potentially a soul-crushing, don’t-have-time-for-anything-else part of your life around finals and such, but you were someone before law school and you’re going to be someone after it. Remember who you are, and show that where you go. Be a resident of your city who happens to go to law school, not a law student who happens to live in your city. People will gravitate to you on your potential professional degree alone, but they’ll stay because your personality will wow them.

    Good luck, and I hope you follow up here to let us know how it goes!

  37. When the right person comes along, there will be no question what you do or do not have time for; you MAKE time in your life for the people you care about. I understand that law school is demanding… but it shouldn’t be the ONLY thing that you are doing.

    Join a gym and go at least once a week. Make it a point to go out with friends for lunch (even friends from law school). Place yourself in social situations so that there are opportunities for you to be in a setting where you can meet people. You don’t have to party your ass off–you are busy, you are in law school. But you need to have a well-rounded life experience.

    If you feel that online dating is for you, then try that, but please be careful!

    And one more thing. I have a dear friend who was in law school and he dated not one, but two, women from law school and is now engaged. Certainly do not use school as a hunting ground for a relationship, but also, I would recommend being open to a relationship if one were to develop.

    The best relationships come when you aren’t expecting it !

  38. I’m not sure that “lawcest” is frowned on that much. At least, my wife that I met in law school and I didn’t care. We met over drinks during finals because the other ones were too busy being miserable studying past 10 pm every day. We started dating a few months after that and got married after law school.

    So…what are you waiting for? Life is short.

  39. Some Law Guy says:

    You will, almost assuredly, be at a university with other professional schools — medical, business, what have you — as well as other graduate programs — go hang out at *those* libraries and be your charming self over there. It gets you away from the law school and the law-cest (which isn’t that big of a deal anyway). There are no doubt budding doctors and physicists who would be delighted for a relationship with someone equally busy, but working on different things. Get to it.

  40. peckerwood says:

    Wow, if you don’t have time for love in law school, wait until you get a job. As a guy, law school was quite fun, even though I avoided lawcest.

  41. Old Lawyer says:

    DO NOT WAIT. Stop putting off something as important as finding the person to share your life with. At every stage of your life there will be a reason you can’t do that now – you’ll get out of law school and perhaps start working just as hard as an associate and then trying to make partner and then … suddenly you’re 35 and wondering why you have no one.

    I’m too long out of the game (married 30 years) to tell you where to meet them, but listen to some of the suggestions here and go out there. No you don’t sacrifice your legal career, but come on, a few hours a week doing something other than law is good.

    And contrary to some advice here – do not ignore your fellow students as a possibility. I have seen fellow students, associates and partners marry.

  42. I’m a 3L single female, and I’ve been single all throughout law school, not to mention I didn’t really have boyfriends in undergrad. Yeah, having someone is nice, but law school (especially your first year) is crazy enough that trying to date and deal with the drama of a new relationship isn’t worth it, imo. I’ve gotten through law school relying emotionally on friends (that I have known for years and ones that I met when I was a 1L) and family. Maybe I don’t have someone to curl up next to at night, but I also don’t have someone whining at me when I have to cancel plans that have been in the works for weeks because of an assignment taking longer than I expected (I just spent 4+ hours on Sunday drafting part of a fake license for a patent). Not to mention, I have spent my last 2 summers living in places that are nowhere near where I go to school, but they’re were I was able to get summer positions (if I had a boyfriend that I met at school, I would suddenly have to have a long-distance relationship for 3 months). I haven’t shut myself off to dating (dating is a lot easier over the summer, when you don’t have to worry about classes, just work), but I’ve found that guys outside of law school don’t really understand the demands and that dating someone in another professional school wouldn’t work out in the long run because we’re on different graduation schedules. If law school/the law is your passion, then take the time to make the most of your time in law school without having to worry about balancing that and a full social life. It won’t mean that you will be a workaholic or that you’ll never have a love life, so don’t worry.

  43. really mean esquire says:

    **wait until you get a job.**
    Actually, since most lawyers won’t get a job and since this girl will probably be past her prime after graduation (better hit the gym and the library, sister) with a $120,000 in student loan bills coming due, she really won’t have a chance after school either.
    And this is a serious comment because I’ve met and read about too many JD’s saying they’ve ruined their lives going to law school. Just sayin..

  44. Get yourself onto the Law Review. Then take up with the hottest Executive Editor you can find. But wait till after graduation to get married.

    Worked for me.

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