Looking after a dog whilst at Law School
February 11, 2005 10:16 PM   Subscribe

Law school + dog: I'm starting law school next fall, and I am currently looking at my housing options. I'm specifically looking for places that are pet friendly, but I need to know whether it is really possible for me to have a dog as a first year law student. Anyone out there been to law school recently? How much extra time will I have? (Assume that the neighborhood/apartment size is not an issue, and I've had dogs before so I know how to care for them.)
posted by ohio to Pets & Animals (15 answers total)
I don't see why not. You'll at most have 3-4 hours of classes per day and you can do all of your studying at home with your dog.
posted by gyc at 10:26 PM on February 11, 2005

I don't see any reason why you couldn't have a dog as a 1L. Walking a dog or whatnot would provide a good study break.
posted by reverendX at 10:26 PM on February 11, 2005

Well, completely anecdotal, but my next door neighbor is a lawyer just recently out of law school, and I know that he had his dog while he was in school and it seemed to work out fine for him.
posted by KirTakat at 11:13 PM on February 11, 2005

My least busy day has 2 hours of classes, my most busy day has 5 hours of classes. And for each hour of class, estimate an hour of reading.
Oh and pile on the writing assignments, which requires effort completely out of proportion to class-time and amount of credits.

You won't have enough extra time to say, take cooking classes or learn woodworking or something like that; but walk a dog 2-3 times a day? Sure, why not. Plus pets are good for stress relief.

Really it comes down to whether you're a Type-A personality, or more of a realist. You could potentially spend every waking moment studying the law. Or you can take an extended trip with your dog to the doggie-park. It's your choice. I say pick the dog. :)

Feel free to email me or check my blog (see profile) for more 1L info.
posted by falconred at 11:27 PM on February 11, 2005

The hour reading per hour of class is probably on the low side for the first year, but as a 2L I am definitely beginning to hover in that territory. The best thing you can do as a 1L is relax, open your mind, and devour the stuff they throw your way.

Oh, and you can feel free to email me as well.

p.s. Lots of my friends here have dogs. I'm sad that I don't.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 4:34 AM on February 12, 2005

Until recently, the Vermont Law School had a picture of a guy and his dog on the home page of their web site. They have an environmental law program as well as a regular law program and each year the graduating MSEL class has their picture taken and there is always at least one dog in that picture, often many more than one. My boyfriend goes there now and while we don't have a dog, it would be easy to have one. In fact any excuse to get exercise during the hectic pace of law school is a really great idea therapeutically for dealing with stress and keeping some balance in your life. My only suggestion would be to try to live somewhat near school so you don't have to choose between going home to walk the dog and finishing up whatever homework you are doing in the library.
posted by jessamyn at 6:26 AM on February 12, 2005

The dog is a great idea. Even on your heaviest class days, you will be out of your house less than if you worked a 9-5 job. Plenty of dogs get by fine with 9-5 job masters. You will need to do tons and tons of out-of-class reading, but there is no reason you couldn't do this at home w/the dog and with breaks to take the dog out.

The biggest mistake some 1Ls make is setting aside 125% of each day to study law. Some of the most successful students in my class had children, pets, families, etc. I had the sense that they set aside specific blocks of time during the day to study, studied hard during those periods, and then tended to other things. Vastly more healthy than inefficiently grinding away in the library from noon to midnight (which was my less-successful-but-B+-ish style).
posted by Mid at 6:37 AM on February 12, 2005

I think the key word here is "dog" as opposed to "puppy." I agree that you'll have enough time if you have a fairly normal, well-adjusted dog. I would recommend against getting a brand-new puppy during or right before your first year. I got my puppy the summer before my second year, so we worked out most of the kinks before classes started. But if you've had puppies before, you'll know what to expect.
posted by MrZero at 7:45 AM on February 12, 2005

Mid is exactly right about work-life balance--it's all about keeping up with the reading and outlining during the semester, which actually takes much less time than you'd think. On the other hand, to do finals right you'll pretty much have to become a hermit for three weeks. In my experience, most of the exhaustion of 1L year comes from the intense finals period rather than the regular semester.

off topic--to prep for exams, I recommend Getting to Maybe and the LEEWS course.
posted by insideout at 7:59 AM on February 12, 2005

I had no idea there were so many fellow law students here!

As folks have mentioned, you shouldn't spend all of your time studying. But remember that going to the dog park may not be your first choice of what to do in your spare time. Sure, it's better than sitting still all day, but it may come down to a choice between the dog park and dinner with friends or going out dancing. You're probably not going to have enough free time do all three. And yes, you can study at home with the dog, but if you're anything like me, you won't get anything done at home. Staying at the library or going to a cafe makes me infinitely more productive than trying to sit at my desk at home (types the girl who's still wearing pajamas and should be working on her independent study).

Moreover, law school can be an unsettling time. You may have to go to another city during the summertime (unless you want to and are lucky enough to find a job in the same place as your school), and you may end up moving after you graduate. Finding housing and moving around are hard to do with a dog! Of course, as others noted, some students have families and make those choices for the family's sake, so it's definitely do-able...just remember that you'll have to factor the dog into those decisions.

On the other hand, it sounds great to come home to a loving animal every night after your ego has been ripped apart and your eyes are bleeding. I bet pet companionship is very comforting throughout law school, and I wish I had it. I would've chosen a cat, though, which can be a little more self-sufficient. Let us know what you decide!

(On preview: MrZero makes an excellent point--the dog's age, size, and needs are going to make a big difference.)
posted by equipoise at 7:59 AM on February 12, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! I think I will definitely be getting the dog friendly apartment. And you are right about the dog v. puppy issue- I wouldn't dream of getting a puppy. I would really like to get a rescued adult dog from the shelter.
posted by ohio at 8:05 AM on February 12, 2005

A little off-topic, I asked many how to prepare for law school. The best advice I received: take a vacation.
posted by quam at 12:26 PM on February 12, 2005

The hour reading per hour of class is probably on the low side for the first year

I hasten to add that when I said reading, I meant "just reading", not highlighting or taking notes or outlining or briefing.
posted by falconred at 1:05 PM on February 12, 2005

Yeah ohio, a dog will give you just the extra relaxation (and distance!) you'll need during your first year. Plus doggy will provide countless pet-starved law students with fun, and make what can be an isolating year less so.
posted by lorrer at 1:37 PM on February 12, 2005

*raises hand as another law student*

Totally agree about having a dog being a good thing; also totally agree about having a puppy being a bad thing. A friend of mine is editor in chief of our law review, and she just got a dog. I think she's a little stressed. :)

Meanwhile, I didn't get a dog first year because I was worried about being able to take care of it. In hindsight, I would have had plenty of time (provided it was an adult dog and not a pup).
posted by socratic at 3:40 PM on February 12, 2005

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