Relationships in law school are always a hot topic of conversation. Can they coexist? Is there time? Will my school work suffer?
Notoriously, law students are famed for being worked to the point of no return. They are stressed, unreliable with social commitments and the discussion of anything law-related is forever on the tip of their tongue. The mere idea of successfully juggling an academic life with a dating life seems impossible. Early on in your first year, it may all be a bit much to think about. But as time goes on, and you begin adjusting to law school life, the idea may start to seem more feasible.
But even if you think you’re ready to jump into the dating pool, the big question is whether you should date a fellow law student or a non-law student? Here I will break down the pros and cons of each one, as well as giving you some tips on the do’s and don’ts of general dating in law school, hopefully helping you make a relatively sound dating decision.
Not in law school yet? Start Here.
Tips For Dating A Law Student
They Understand My Time Commitments And Lifestyle
It would be fair to say that if you date a fellow law student, they should understand your law life and everything it encompasses. This can be anything from understanding the stresses you face to knowing when your workload reaches its peak. If you’re at the same school, finding time for each other should, in theory, be easy. You could meet for a quick coffee or bite to eat during breaks, or have a ‘study’ date in the library.
Although this does sound like a better love story than Twilight, it’s safe to say it comes with its pitfalls. While it may sound easy to find time for each other, it can still be mission impossible syncing the free time of two law students. And if you do manage to find the time, being able to see so much of each other can often lead to too much ‘law.’ It becomes all you talk about and all you do together. Sometimes, you just need a break from it to remember that there is a world outside the four walls of law school. It may also throw you off your routine if you have a fight, or, heaven forbid, break up. Having a girlfriend or boyfriend in law school can attract unwanted attention from fellow students, and your dirty laundry might be aired for all to see.
Who Has It Worse?
While it’s all so wonderful that your boyfriend or girlfriend in law school understands your time commitments and lifestyle, it can become a competition of who has it worse. And when relationships become a competition, the likelihood is that no one wins. Having a relationship in law school opens up the door to endless comparisons.This can be anything from the number of assignments and busy schedules to internships and job interviews.
Constantly comparing yourself to others is unhealthy in itself, but when it comes to relationships, it can lead to resentment, bitterness, and likely a ‘see you later’. The answer…don’t compare. Don’t compete. Be supportive and help each other through the stress of law school. If not, it may be best to avoid dating a law student.
Do They Compliment Me?
If you’re chasing a fellow law student, it’s wise to find someone who compliments you, rather than someone who is your twin. If you’re uber-organized (perhaps with a color-coded planner) and slightly highly strung (where the mere thought of ‘chilling out’ fills you with dread), you might be better suited to someone who hasn’t committed their schedule to memory, and doesn’t feel guilty about taking a break.
They may keep you grounded, while you may keep them on track. The trick is to have the same main focus – passing law school. The yin and yang you both bring to the table help to keep you sane.
Situation 2: Dating A Non-Law Student
My Personal Life And Academic Life Is Separate
The most obvious benefit of dating a non-law student is being able to separate your romantic life from your academic life. Date nights may not always involve dissecting the last exam you took or reminiscing about an old case. Instead, you can have a brain break from law, and feel as though there is life outside a courtroom or lecture theatre. This can help keep you level-headed.
Turn this on its flip-side, and you have your most obvious downfall – your non-law student girlfriend or boyfriend can’t understand the high level of commitment that goes hand in hand with law school. They will expect normal interaction, like responding to a text or keeping a social engagement, which is sometimes a tall order when you’re a law student. While they may help to keep your feet on the ground, you may not be able to give them the sort of interaction they crave.
Related: Best Backpacks for Law School
We Never Spend Time Together
This old chestnut. We discussed in the ‘dating a fellow law student’ section how it can be hard for two law students to find time for each other, and it’s probably fair to say that it’s even harder for a law student and a non-law student to sync up.
Whether you’re dating a female lawyer in training, or a male one, you tend to be under the illusion that the world revolves around you and your degree. This means you expect your partner or current fling to fit around you and your busy schedule because obviously, their life isn’t anywhere near as stressful or as hectic as yours.
While you may have a notoriously big workload, a relationship can only thrive if time is spent together. You can’t always expect your non-law partner to be sensitive to your lifestyle. Sometimes you will need to put them first. If you aren’t willing to do this, having a relationship with a non-law student may not be for you.
They Can’t Relate to me
Dating someone who has different interests is by no means a bad thing. When it comes to forming a relationship with a non-law student, it can do wonders for your wellbeing. Maybe it will encourage you to start a new hobby or help you unwind after a crazy day in court. But when you’re in the bubble of law school, you often feel as though you don’t have time for such things. Guilt can creep in if you take a break from studying.
It can also be hard to find common ground with someone who doesn’t have the same interests, aka law. Although it is certainly healthy to not talk about law ALL THE TIME, it is hard not to. And when someone doesn’t quite get your fascination with the Socratic Method or they can’t understand your everyday law lingo, it can become rather frustrating. It may be no one’s fault, but the blame does seem to be put on the non-law student – and we all know resentment never ends well.
Related: Ultimate Guide to Lawyer Salaries
Relationships In Law School: the Do’s and Don’ts
I’ve compiled some tips for dating a law student. Look at it as a list of the do’s and don’ts. Please take it with a pinch of salt, as only you know what works best for you!
- Do try to separate your dating life and your academic life where possible. This is especially important for those of you dating a fellow law student. Take time away from law when you’re spending time together. Organize date nights where you aren’t allowed to talk about law, workload, or professors. Avoid starting a sentence with, “That reminds me of this case I read about”. It will be hard, but the effort will pay off.
- Don’t stress yourself out. Law school is already stressful so you don’t need to add to this. Work out what you want and go for it. If you’re after something casual, make that clear. If you’re after more commitment, ask for it. Communication is key. Containing your needs and wants to your head will only lead to unnecessary drama.
- Do be subtle. If you’re having relationship dramas, don’t bring them into law school with you. People talk. The last thing you need is your drama becoming the latest law school scandal. Keep your private life private and only for the ears of those you like to seek solace from.
- Don’t do something just because the person you’re dating is doing it. If they’re signing up for a new class, you don’t have to follow suit. The same applies when it comes to post-graduation job picking time. Unless the relationship is serious enough to justify it, you don’t have to apply to jobs in the same city. Be selfish. Choose what is right for you.
- Do be kind and true to yourself. Only you know what’s best about what you can and can’t take when juggling the academic and personal. If it all gets too much, don’t be afraid to say so. Life is too short to be miserable.
So, can law school relationships and law school coexist? It would be fair to say that dating in law school is certainly not impossible, whether it be with a fellow law student or a non-law student. While it may be hard to imagine with the excessive workload, there is always time for a little bit of romance. You may just have to make the time. Plus, for no other reason, your emotional wellbeing should benefit.
A significant other can provide that shoulder to cry on when it all becomes a bit much. They can be the emotional punch bag that you can vent to, as well as your biggest cheerleader when you need it the most.
However, as with most things in life, these relationships can come with their drawbacks. If it all becomes too much and is adding additional stress on top of the normal law school anxiety, it may be time to either have a deep and meaningful or complete rethink. At the end of the day, although you shouldn’t feel as though you have to pick between them, law school will probably have to come first.
While you may or may not find ‘the one’ by dating in law school, you are bound to walk away having learned some valuable life lessons!