On Being a Married, Commuting, Home-Owning, Child-Rearing, Second-Career Law Student

Item the first – A heartfelt “thank you” to Professor O’Hear for inviting me to be December’s student blogger.

Item the second – Can I pick my own headshot? I have this great one of me in my Halloween costume as Sweeney Todd.

Item the third – On to business! When I was asked to blog, the first thought in my mind could not have been more clichéd: “What can I write about?” In response, my mind supplied an almost equally clichéd answer: “Write what you know.” So I thought about what makes me unique as a law student, and very quickly had an answer.

I’m married (6 years). I commute (from Ozaukee County). I own a house. I have a child (four year old boy, Alex). I work four part-time jobs (law clerk, choir director, choir accompanist, poker dealer). I’m starting a second career (ex-music teacher). Some people ask me how I do all those things successfully. Those people have obviously not been in my house. But let me share a few tips of my success in juggling so many demands on my time.

#1 – Balance with a cost-benefit analysis. Everything suffers some sacrifice (and my house certainly suffers the most). I find the “sweet spot” for studying and preparing — I could do more, but I try to find the point where the time invested gives me the greatest returns. My wife (God bless her) is more able to handle long absences than my toddler, so I try to give him as much time as I can while he’s awake. My house will still be standing when I graduate, although that may be the best that can be said for it.

#2 – Multitasking. I take the Ozaukee County Flyer. That bus takes only about twenty minutes longer to get downtown than a car does, it’s cheaper (even with gas prices so low), and I can now use the bus rides to study. It’s like having two free hours of study built into the day. I’ve also tricked my son into thinking that housework is fun, so I can take care of the house and spend time with him at the same time. My wife isn’t so gullible, but we still work on housework together.

#3 – Enjoying my work. I actually use my part-time jobs as relaxation. Music used to be my vocation, and now it’s a vacation from the intensity of law school. Aside from being a law clerk, which is more about career development, my part-time jobs are all things I would gladly volunteer to do, but I happen to be lucky enough to be paid for them. I come out of choir rehearsals, even though they go until 7 or 8 p.m. after a long day, completely refreshed.

So those are my suggestions for studying law while not neglecting the rest of your life. Find a balance, but be willing to sacrifice; meet multiple needs at the same time; and find a way to relax (and maybe even get paid for it!).

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