How To Balance Your Child While You Work

This week we hear from guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt about balancing parenthood with a legal career at home.

Covid has brought significant attention to the need for childcare for working parents. Many of us have been trying to tend to work while simultaneously tending to children at home, and the result has been massive burnout, frustration, and chaos (at least at times in my household).

At the start of the pandemic, it was wonderful having my two-year-old son home with me. I don’t begrudge parents who happily rely on daycare, but for me, I struggled leaving my son with a caregiver. I wanted to be with him. I wanted to watch him learn and grow and play and laugh. I wanted to be there to comfort him if he fell and scraped a knee.

Despite my idealistic expectations for caring for my toddler son while building a virtual law practice, the reality of trying to manage both roles, mother and lawyer, at home at the same time proved more challenging than I anticipated.

Nearly eighteen months into this new lifestyle, I’ve learned a few tricks to keeping now both of my children (age 3 and 1) entertained while also keeping my law practice afloat. Here’s what you need to know:

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Create a Care Package for the Law Student in your Life!

Create a Care Package for the Law Student in your Life!This week we welcome back guest writer Tiffany Lo to talk about some ideas for care packages to make a law student in your life feel appreciated and cared for!

It is no secret that law school is hard and the legal profession has a serious mental health issue. I have experienced and seen first-hand the stress and anxiety that law students face, and have admired students’ and law schools’ efforts to alleviate these challenges, such as organizing study breaks or providing a therapist.

With many friends starting law school this fall, I started reflecting upon what would have made my transition into law school life more painless. And recently, in preparation for lunch with a dear friend and incoming 1L, I assembled a care package for her.

Now, I would like to share a list of things that could go into a care package for the law student in your life. Some of things are practical, while others are fun, but they all are important in my book.

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Law School Perspective – Tips to Help You Transition from Summertime to Studying

Law School Perspective - Tips to Help You Transition from Summertime to StudyingThis week we welcome back guest writer Shirlene Brown to discuss how to get back into school mode after a summer off.

Summer is the best time for law students. You can earn money through your summer jobs, catch-up with family and friends, and just relax! Unfortunately, summer went by so fast and the Fall semester is just around the corner. Now that the summer is winding down, it is time to get prepared for the school year to begin! I have been through three years of law school and thus I have lots of experience transitioning from summertime to school time. I have created a list of some tips that helped me get through the summertime sadness and get ready for the grind of a new school year. I hope these help you feel prepared for what another year of law school brings!  [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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Maintain your Law School Connections

How to maintain your law school connectionsThis week we welcome back guest writer and 2L Tiffany Lo to talk about keeping up with your law school connections.

Making and maintaining connections during law school are important. The legal profession is a small universe, and you may encounter your classmates as the opposing counsel, as a client, as a judge, as an academic, or as a public servant. Having a personal connection with people in the legal field can help you develop business, craft a litigation or negotiation strategy, and find new career opportunities.

Making connections might be easy, but maintaining them takes work. Here are my thoughts on how to do that: [Read more…]

Young Professional Perspective – Thoughts on How Our Professional Lives and Looks Are Affected By Social Media

Young Professional Perspective - Thoughts on How Our Professional Lives and Looks Are Affected By Social MediaThis week we welcome back guest writer Shirlene Brown to talk about your social media and your professional image.

When you enter law school and later when you get sworn in as an attorney, you take an oath of professionalism. This oath even covers situations not relating to the practice of law or situations outside of the lawyer’s traditional duties. In general, lawyers are expected to look, act, and be professional. However, the oath doesn’t necessarily mean you need to dress professionally 24/7 or cannot have a personal life outside of your professional career. Not only are people looking at you and how you present yourself in person, they are also looking at your social media. In the last few decades, the rise of online platforms and social media has allowed people to connect and share posts with people from all walks of life. With this comes an “online presence” and questions surrounding professionalism online. How does social media affect an attorney’s or law student’s professional life? Do you need to keep your personal life completely off social media? What can you do to “be professional” but also “be yourself”? Today I am trying to tackle these very complicated but sensitive topics. [Read more…]

Courage is Rehearsed: Managing Fear During Public Performances

Courage is Rehearsed: Managing Fear During Public PerformancesThis week we welcome guest writer Paul Dumont to talk about lessons learned from coaching gymnastics and how those can apply to law school and the bar exam.

From 1988 until 2016, for fun, income, and my own development, I devoted more than 10,000 hours to coaching boys in the Junior Olympic Competitive Program, primarily at Redwood Empire Gymnastics in Petaluma, CA (1988 – 2002), attending approximately 150 competitions and leading 9 teams to state championship titles. During the same decades, I earned degrees in liberal studies, English composition, and law, passed the CA bar exam, and went on to a 20-year career in family law while teaching legal writing on the side. Both journeys were intimidating for a young professional.

Both professions required years of disciplined training and participation in challenging public contests showcasing a performer’s ability to perform competently under myriad pressures. Both professions required management of serious risk. Risks of injury. Liability risks. Risks to self-esteem, reputation, employment, and finances. Risks to ego and id. Success was measured through timed performances evaluated by neutral licensed examiners. All of the results were published. Glad I got into coaching before my legal training scared me away.

This post distills essential lessons gained over 30 years competing in two disparate public arenas, specifically the concrete steps I followed to manage fear during important performances.

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