Navigating Law School and a Long-Distance Relationship

Navigating Law School and a Long-Distance RelationshipThis week we welcome back guest writer Christen Morgan to talk about how to manage a long-distance relationship in law school.

Starting law school does not have to mean the definitive end of your relationship.

It does not always mean making a choice between the one you love and the career you’re destined for, and it does not mean feeling guilty about the balancing act of studying and relationship that will now become a part of your law school experience.

Contrary to popular belief, navigating law school and a relationship can actually be beneficial. Despite the success or failure of your relationship, this experience can set you up with essential time-management, decision-making and preparation skills that could benefit you in your personal or professional development.

These benefits are not solely meant for the couples who are domestically intertwined in the same time zone, city or apartment, but also the couples who have been divided by these factors and now face a long-distance relationship.

The couples who are now relegated to FaceTime, WhatsApp or iMessage for their primary means of conversation, and the couples who, at the end of their separation by distance, will recognize that their relationship has withstood a difficult test and can now be resilient for the future trials life has to offer.

If you are currently navigating law school and a long-distance relationship, here are four tips to help guide you along your journey.

1. Set Expectations

The law school experience isn’t something that is broadly understood. The idea of spending entire days analyzing case law, briefing cases, delving into complex research then sleeping for just a few hours before doing it all over again, isn’t something that your partner may understand. Therefore, if you’re in law school and in a long-distance relationship, setting expectations with your partner early on is key.

First, set expectations about your availability. Let them know that you may not be able to speak with them every day, but that doesn’t mean you’re any less interested. Let them know that by scheduling a chat for your 15-minute break in between classes, you’re prioritizing the relationship, not belittling it to mechanical meeting times. Let them know that during finals you may be missing in action for a few days, but this is because of how intense finals season can be, not because you’re being flighty.

At the start of each semester, it may be a good idea to share your class schedule and study schedule with them. This visual may help to authenticate your limited availability in their eyes, but, most importantly, it can help you to both set up connection times that work for both of your schedules.

2. Schedule Time to Connect

Scheduling time to connect with your partner is also important for maintaining a long-distance relationship while in law school. The concept of scheduling time to speak to a loved one, may seem mechanical and could possibly be off-putting to your partner. However, if you don’t actually put time on your calendar to speak with them, then the few days that you were bogged down trying to understand a Civ. Pro concept and unable to call your partner, can quickly turn into weeks of creating an outline and just not having the time for a quick FaceTime check in. Be proactive with making time to connect.

As suggested above, I would recommend sharing your schedule with your partner and then pulling out blocks of time that you could use to communicate. Gone may be the days of constant texting back and forth. Your new schedule may mean three hours of classes, then 30 minutes of lunch with your partner via FaceTime. It may mean a full 8-hour day of classes and study, then an hour of unwinding on a call before bed. Whatever it is that may work for you, don’t let the mechanical nature of scheduling dissuade you. Actually setting this time aside, may be the only way your connection can continue to flourish.

3. Plan Visits

If you’re in a long-distance relationship, planning visits to see your significant other is a helpful way to maintain your relationship. Although your law school schedule may limit your ability to do frequent visits, take advantage of holidays and semester breaks to coordinate visits with your partner.

If you are the one making the commute to see your partner, use your travel time wisely. This is a great time to catch up on readings or even get some writing done. Knocking some of the heavy work out during travel gives you more time to be present with your partner during your visit.

If you are completing this visit during a time when you have a heavy workload, then don’t forget to schedule some work time into your visit. This may mean waking up early to get some work done before hanging with your partner or staying up a bit later after they’ve gone to bed. Whatever it takes, do your best to balance your work time and fun time.

4. Find your Relationship’s North Star

Your North Star represents your inner compass that guides you towards your life’s passion, purpose and direction. A North Star is something that we typically utilize as an individual guide for our life’s purpose. However, considering the complexities that surround a long-distance relationship, I would recommend finding a North Star for your relationship with your partner.

Take some time to discuss the long-term goals for your relationship. Your time constraints during law school will be a difficult hurdle to overcome. Furthermore, after law school, you will have major decisions regarding where you sit for the bar and ultimately practice. Therefore, it will be essential to ensure that you and your partner are on the same page or at least in the same book.

Finding your relationship’s North Star will be helpful in framing your time priorities and some of your major decisions during and after law school.

I wish you the best of luck in your studies and long-distance love!


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About Christen Morgan

Christen Morgan graduated magna cum laude from the University of Tampa where she received her B.S. in Criminology. She earned her J.D. from Emory Law School where she competed and served as an executive board member for the Emory Law Moot Court Society. Christen also served as a student representative for LexisNexis and also as a mentor for several 1L students offering them advice and a variety of resources to help them through their law school journey.

Christen previously practiced as a Foreclosure Attorney for a Real Estate law firm but has since then transitioned into a Real Estate Specialist role at a wireless infrastructure company.

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