Being Married and in Law School

Last updated: July 7, 2013

One student has commented that nearly half the law students at his school are married. Although the percentage is not quite that high at most schools, a significantly larger number of law students are married than are undergraduates. How does this situation relate to the intensity of law school? We asked our law students, "if you are married, has that hampered or assisted you in law school?" Several responded from their own experience or from witnessing others.

The Opinions

Both. The tremendous amount of time needed for law school puts a great strain on a marriage. However, a married person does not have to spend much time procuring dates and the like.

I got married after completing the first year and a half of law school, and, frankly, I think being married has been a great help. I've been much more relaxed and have found it considerably easier to get away from "school." This is a necessity, because if I couldn't get away on occasion I think I'd go crazy.

Married students perform better with the grades than single people in law school, according to the stats. I should add that the divorce rate is also high during these years, so the vows are a mixed blessing. There is one advantage to the bachelor as well, in that many large urban firms prefer the single to the married student, the rationale being that the former will be a more productive unit out of singular dedication to his profession.

Being married affects or does not affect one's experience depending on the marriage. There is no way to generalize. 
I'm not married, but marriage seems to add greatly to a student's performance perhaps because of the stability, etc.; that is, if the husband or wife does not mind many evenings at home while the spouse is away at the library. 
 
 

* Prelaw Handbook for Davidson Students, Blain Butner, editor. 
 Reprinted with permission.

From College to Law School: From "Truth to Chickens"**

The law student must be ready and willing to meet one of the biggest challenges that he will ever face. Law school is a full-time business. By full-time, I mean a minimum of 10 hours a day, every day of the week. It is quite exhaustive, particularly during the first year.

There is a new vocabulary to learn, and a new way of thinking.  As the faculty is fond of saying, law students also have to learn to read for the first time in their lives.  In law, every word is of crucial importance; you don't read just to get the gist of the material. This point came across to me the first day of law school. I had spent four years in college contemplating such issues as truth, goodness, government, religion. In the first case we had to read in Contracts, the issue which Judge Henry Friendly, one of the most distinguished judges in the country, had to face was: "What is chicken?"  The case turned on whether the parties to the contract meant "stewing chicken" or "fowl." The movement from considering "what is truth" to "what is chicken" symbolizes perfectly for me the movement from college to law school. 
 
 

* Prelaw Handbook for Davidson Students, Blain Butner, editor.
  Reprinted with permission.
** John S. Lawrence, Jr. from Lynchburg, Virginia, who graduated from Duke in May 1972 and the University of Chicago Law School in 1975, has aptly summarized the transition from College to Law School.

Return to Prelaw Handbook for Seniors