Saturday, January 2, 2021

Is It a Good Idea to Date in Law School?

I'm a pretty motivated student at a pretty good law school.  I would say that I'm probably in the top half of my class, but maybe higher.  The other students don't seem as engaged as I am and many of them are in a relationship.  I was thinking about staying single in law school but there is this girl who I sit next to in most of my classes and she is pretty good looking.  Well, she is pretty talkative and recently asked me out on a date.  At first I was a little apprehensive because I don't want to see my GPA drop, and it's my goal to transfer to a top law school such as Georgetown or Columbia if possible.  I think if I stick to my studies I could do it.

Anyway, I said yes and we went out for dinner.  She talked a lot about law school (of course, it's our life), and said she was feeling pretty burned out.  She said she needed something to keep her mind off of briefing cases and didn't care too much about getting good grades.  At first, I just listened and didn't give it any thought.  She's a great girl.  A lot of fun, super attractive, and always smiling.  She asked if we wanted to keep going out and I said "of course."  

We have now been together for about a month and a half.  We have some serious feelings for each other, but I have found that she is not into law school while I am.  I mentioned transferring and she said that she didn't see the point of it.  It worries me because I am wondering if dating while in law school was the right choice for me.  Will this come back to bite me in the end?  On one hand, she's an amazing woman and I don't want to give her up or lose her.  On the other hand, she's not that motivated as a student and thinks that I take law school too seriously.  I wonder, if I don't take the chance to do well, transfer, or graduate with a high GPA, will I regret it?  What about getting a job as an attorney after law school.  The truth is, I am terrified at the job prospects after law school. 

What should I do?  I don't want to break up, but I also want to maximize my career potential.  Any advice?


Is Dating in Law School a Good Idea?
Questions regarding dating while in law school are difficult ones.  I didn't date in law school myself (I had already been married for close to 10 years) and my wife was very supportive.  I think that it is important to be with someone who is supportive of your goals.  This becomes more tricky when you are both in school and have different goals.  

I would suggest sitting down with her and having a serious talk.  Do you both really want the same things?  Will this cause friction down the road?  Will this lead to regret?  

She may seem amazing at this point, but will her amazingness overshadow the idea of not doing well in your career?  How important is your career (it seems very important to you given how serious you are taking your legal studies).  

It is good to set boundaries.  In law school, boundaries are super important.  Maybe tell her that you would like to see her, but that you are devoted to your studies.  If she doesn't really understand that, then it may be a shadow of things to come.  

If you are dating in law school, you should ask yourself what your long-term reasons for dating are.  Is it just to have fun?  You said she was attractive and fun?  Are those two qualities enough to derail you from your long-term career goals?  If you end up transferring to another city or state for law school, will your relationship hold up?  Long distance relationships can be hard.  I imagine they are even harder while in law school.  

These things require you both to sit down and talk with each other for a while.  If you don't confront these possible scenarios now, they are going to be more problematic when you start to work towards your goals.  

Also, you should ask yourself if your dating and worrying will hurt your chances of doing well on final exams.  Law school is hard enough without trying to date someone who doesn't really support you or your future goals.  

I strongly recommend against dating during the first year of law school if it can be helped.  I understand that law school can be super boring at times and that some diversion in the form of a pretty face and fun person may be nice, but you are probably paying at least five figures to go to law school.  This is your moment to shine.  The first year of law school is the most important year that there is and it will affect your legal career in the years to come.  Many people find this out way too late.  

A frank and honest conversation with her is needed.  It's a scary thing, but so is not getting the career or grades that you dream of.  Think of it as practice for the courtroom when you are going up against an angry and powerful opponent and a judge who seems to not really like anything you have to say.  If she is the right girl, she will understand.  If not, then it may be hard, but not as hard as many years sitting in the bar, drunk and unemployed, wondering if you should have done something different in 1L.

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