About Hillary Vaillancourt

Hillary Vaillancourt is a lawyer and writer at The Vaillancourt Law Firm, LLC. She has experience in a wide variety of matters including food law, education law, real estate law, family law, criminal law, contracts, and estate planning. She earned her JD from New England Law|Boston and is licensed in Virginia.

How To Save Time On Meal Prep To Have More Time To Study

How To Save Time On Meal Prep To Have More Time To StudyThis week we’re hearing from guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt about how meal prep can be a useful tool to save you time during law school.

Truth be told, my idea of a great Saturday afternoon is spending the entire time in the kitchen rustling up some quality grub. I’m talking scratch-made biscuits baked with real butter, sliced open while still steaming to spread a layer of homemade tomato jam, then finished with a sprinkle of fresh herbs from my garden.

Sadly, there are days, weeks, heck sometimes whole months when life doesn’t afford me the opportunity to spend so much time experimenting with recipes and concocting scrumptious three-course meals for my family.

Multitasking can take a little of the stress out of preparing food while also being able to study, but sometimes it’s not the most practical or desirable option. Instead, here are a few ways you can simplify your meal prep in order to spend more time on your studies. [Read more…]

How To Have A Social Life That Doesn’t Interfere With Your Studies

How To Have A Social Life That Doesn’t Interfere With Your StudiesWe’re welcoming back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to discuss keeping a social life going, even when you’re busy in law school.

While getting to know your law school classmates is not only socially beneficial but also good for networking, socializing can easily and quickly get out of hand.

My first year of law school, I had just turned 21, and I was enjoying being legally able to join friends at local bars. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I was spending too much time out on the town and not nearly enough time in the library.

I also joined study groups that spent an abundance of time chit chatting. When I was ready to get down to business, my study partners were rehashing school gossip or discussing other personal matters.

It can be challenging to find a balance between hanging out with your new law school friends while also ensuring you’re getting the most out of your tuition.

Here are a few tips to help you find that balance.

[Read more…]

Three Things I Learned About The French Lifestyle That Changed How I Practice Law

Three Things I Learned About The French Lifestyle That Changed How I Practice LawThis week we welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to talk about what she learned from the French lifestyle and how this helped her as an attorney,

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by the French lifestyle. My childhood bedroom had an Eiffel Tower clock. My traditional birthday cake was chocolate mousse. I took a French language class as soon as my school offered one. I have nearly a dozen French cookbooks (and counting), but what has really inspired me is the French philosophy on work life balance.

I first started to really delve into the French lifestyle when I read French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano. The whole book is an ode to the French way of life. Essentially, the book explores how French women are able to eat decadent foods like buttery croissants, creamy custards, and cheesy sauces without seemingly gaining any weight whatsoever. Take a walk around Paris, and you’ll notice most locals are svelte and chic.

Mireille Guiliano, a native Frenchwoman, explains that the French allow themselves to indulge in their favorite foods, even dessert, without guilt, without reservation. To balance out the indulgence, they simply eat a little cleaner the next day. The key is, they indulge without guilt, but more importantly, they savor what they indulge in. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Why deny ourselves a crème filled éclair? Or a glass of red wine? Or a study break from our Torts outlines?

What can the French teach us about lawyering? Turns out, quite a lot.

[Read more…]

Why You Should Celebrate Your Birthday in Law School

Why You Should Celebrate Your Birthday in Law SchoolThis week we welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to talk about why celebrating life events is important – even if you’re busy in law school!

My birthday falls at the end of April—smack in the middle of finals season. My first year of law school, as my birthday approached, I couldn’t find anyone who was willing to take time out of studying to help me celebrate my birthday Understandably, especially that first year, all my classmates were thinking of their finals. Friends, family, and any other personal matters just weren’t a priority.

Not to be deterred, I decided to go ahead and celebrate on my own. My traditional birthday dessert has always been chocolate mousse cake, so I baked myself a dozen chocolate mousse cupcakes to enjoy while I studied. I set the finished cupcakes on a plate in the kitchen in my third floor Boston apartment and went back to my room to study. I planned to reward myself with a cupcake after getting through my civil procedure outline.

When I went back to the kitchen a few hours later, I realized I hadn’t been the only one interested in my cupcakes. Tiny little nibbles were missing from every single cupcake on my plate. A little mouse came to my party. All my birthday cupcakes were inedible.

It may seem like the worst birthday, ever, but I actually think of that birthday as one of the funniest ones I’ve ever had. More importantly, I am proud of myself for trying to celebrate. Here’s why it’s important to continue to celebrate life’s milestones even while in law school and studying for finals.

[Read more…]

How To Avoid Burnout

How To Avoid BurnoutThis week we welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to talk about what to do if you’re facing burnout as a law or bar student.

Going to law school, studying for the bar exam, and practicing law (or doing much of anything, frankly) has been a stressful experience since 2020 began over a year ago. To say the least, right? Law school and the bar exam are stressful enough to begin with let alone without the added issues 2020, and now 2021, bring to us.

I can relate. Since the end of 2019, I have taken the bar exam, changed jobs, almost lost my brother to a mysterious illness, renovated a house, started my own law practice, moved into a new house, been pregnant, gave birth, had my stepson move in with my family, and had a newborn…all during the pandemic, and all while caring for a toddler.

Honestly, one thing I can say with certainty is I fully understand stress.

Here’s the thing about stress: when you don’t even realize it, it can become too much. It piles on incrementally until one day you don’t feel like doing anything. Not one thing. But, that stack of papers, those practice exams, none of that goes away so easily. You still have to do your job, take care of your family, and get through your day. Now into 2021, stress is still going to be around.

But, there are healthy ways to deal with stress so you don’t get burned out to a crispy crunch.

[Read more…]

How To Find The Area Of Law That’s Right For You

How To Find The Area Of Law That’s Right For YouThis week we welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to talk about finding the right fit in a legal practice area.

I am one of those people. You know the kind, the kind that can’t try a new recipe without posting a picture on social media with a lengthy write-up about how the food was prepared, where, and why. The kind that will go to a restaurant and snap copious amounts of pictures of the meal before finally sticking a fork in it. The kind that leaves a #foodie on post after post. I proudly grocery shop like a tourist in a new city. I love scanning the shelves every week for some new product, some new, exotic ingredient I can use to bring my culinary creations to a higher level of deliciousness.

In fact, I love food so much, during my first year of law school I considered leaving to go to culinary school. A fellow classmate did just that and became a pastry chef, and to be honest, I have always been a bit jealous of her path.

I did finish law school, but when it came time for me to decide where I wanted my own career to go, I wasn’t as sure as I thought I was when I first decided to get a law degree. I knew I wanted to help people. I wanted to do something altruistic. I thought I would go to Washington, D.C. and lobby for a nonprofit. But, I wasn’t quite sure what specific road to take after law school.

If you’re unsure of your career path, or what area of law is right for you, here are a few tips for you to find your way.

[Read more…]

How To Navigate Law And Politics During The Holidays

How To Navigate Law And Politics During The HolidaysThis week we welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to talk about managing some difficult topics at the holidays – including politics!

Several months ago I applied to work as a contract attorney for a bankruptcy firm. I needed to be admitted to a federal bankruptcy court, however, and another attorney in the firm offered to sponsor me for admission to the federal bankruptcy court. For over an hour, I chatted with this attorney, and we had a lovely conversation. He sponsored me for the court, and we said goodbye.

A few weeks after I was admitted to the bar, I had a legal question in this attorney’s jurisdiction. I called him, he took the time to talk with me and answer my question, and then out of the blue, he asked, “What’s your opinion on wearing masks?” [Read more…]

How To Practice Law As A New Mom

How To Practice Law As A New Mom

This week we welcome guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to talk about balancing a law career and a new baby.

As a new attorney starting out, I had gone straight from undergrad to law school to private practice. I was in my early 20’s, single, and willing and eager to work as much as possible. 

I happily put in long hours at the office including weekends and on holidays. I enjoyed my work and the feeling of being needed by clients and my boss. 

After a six-year break in practicing law, I got back into the industry. This time, I was sworn in to the New York Bar on my son’s second birthday with my husband by my side. Needless to say, my day-to-day life is extremely different this time around now that I’m married and have a child (and one on the way!). 

[Read more…]

Three Tips For Networking During The Pandemic

This week we welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt, to talk about how you can still work on your networking skills, even when you’re stuck at home during COVID-19.

Most of us know how important networking is, particularly when you’re in law school and aspiring to a legal career. Having good grades and published law journal articles will absolutely make a difference in your job prospects. But, having quality connections is a significant advantage.

If you are looking to get hired by a firm, agency, nonprofit, or other employer, having connections may help you learn of unposted job openings. Your connections may provide meaningful letters of recommendation. Your connections who are “in the know” may help steer you away from employers from whom you wouldn’t want to work. Or, they may help you and mentor you even after you get hired. [Read more…]

How To Practice Law Virtually

How to Practice Law VirtuallyThis week we welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to talk about how you can achieve success as a lawyer with a virtual practice.

I once worked for a law office (very briefly) where when I spent an evening in the ER, sick, pregnant, and absolutely miserable, I offered to work from home. One of the managing attorneys told me that it was impossible for a new attorney to work remotely and grow as an attorney.

Well, since the Coronavirus pandemic shut down law offices in several states, lots of firms are finding out that it is not only possible but sometimes advantageous to have attorneys work from home. Yes, there are special considerations.

After that job didn’t pan out, I started my own virtual law practice. Here are some things to consider if you, too, would like to strike out on your own, virtually speaking.

[Read more…]