Shawnita Goosby is a 2L at Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She is Interested in Criminal...
Crystal Taylor is a 2L at Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas.
Meghan Matt is a 2L in the evening division at Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She...
Ashley N. Baker is a 3L at Southern University Law Center where she holds memberships with the Journal of...
Law school is stressful in and of itself, and adding the responsibility of parenting into the mix may make it sound almost impossible. However, there are many parents out there who have found ways to make it work. In this episode of the ABA Law Student Podcast, host Ashley Baker talks to Shawnita Goosby, Crystal Taylor, and Meghan Matt about how they manage their lives as mothers in law school. They offer advice on how to create support systems that can help parents handle the stresses of law school and encourage other parents to take heart and know that it can be done!
ABA Law Student Podcast
How to Survive Law School with Children
Intro: Welcome to the official ABA Law Student Podcast, where we talk about issues that affect law students and recent grads. From finals and graduation to the Bar exam and finding a job, this show is your trusted resource for the next big step.
You are listening to the Legal Talk Network.
Ashley Baker: Hello and welcome to another episode of the ABA Law Student Podcast. My name is Ashley Baker. I currently serve as the Law Student Division Delegate of Communications, Publications and Outreach. I’m also a 2L at Southern University Law Center.
So we recently published an article on the Before the Bar blog entitled “Sorry honey, mommy’s busy: How to survive law school with children.” The article received such a positive response that we had this idea to assemble a group of mothers who can really speak to what it’s like to be a mom in law school.
So our first guest today was the inspiration for this episode Shawnita Goosby. She’s also the author of that amazing article. Shawnita, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Shawnita Goosby: Most definitely. First off, thank you so much for that beautiful introduction and for the opportunity to speak about something that’s so very near and dear to me.
So, again, my name is Shawnita Goosby, I am a 2L at the Southern University Law Center, which is in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I am a native of Georgia. I grew up in a military family, but I call Georgia home prior to law school for the last 17 or 18 years.
And most importantly, I am the proud mother of ten-year-old, Sir Jones, and I have a dynamic two-year-old whose name is Skyler Stone.
Ashley Baker: Okay, and our next guest is Crystal Taylor. Crystal, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Crystal Taylor: Hi, my name is Crystal. I’m a 2L. I attend Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas. I have two children, a son who’s six, his name is Jude and a daughter who is four and her name is Leila. I’m originally from Roswell, New Mexico but I’ve lived in Houston for a really long time now, so Houston is home and I’m just really excited about this opportunity. Thank you so much for reaching out to me for this.
Ashley Baker: Okay, and our next guest, last but certainly not least is Meghan Matt. Meghan, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Meghan Matt: Hey guys, so I am a 2L in the Evening Division at Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge. I was born and raised here. We spent some time up in New York City but we have been back for several years and happy to be attending such an amazing University.
I have four children, they are ages 10, 7, 5, and 3. So this is definitely something we deal with on the daily and I’m super-excited about this conversation.
Ashley Baker: Thank you ladies so much. I’m just so excited that you guys agreed to be on the podcast and to share your insight on being a mom in law school. Now, law school is stressful, to say the least. It’s classes, it’s studying, it’s assignments, it’s deadlines, and I can imagine having a child and being in law school.
So I guess my first question is, how do you manage your time between classes, studying, work and caring for your children?
Shawnita, do you want to open things up?
Shawnita Goosby: Yes, so I think this is one of the — I believe the number one questions that I get in regards to parenting and law school and it really depends on a couple of things, first the ages of your children really matter. If you of course have older children like I have a ten-year-old who’s a little bit more independent than my two-year-old that I’m taking in consideration.
But just on basis by this beginning foundation, a planner is your best friend for a law school for managing everything. You do need to try to become more structured in your time putting in your classes, putting in things that your children need, you’re going to have doctor’s appointment, dentist’s appointments and all of those things.
And you also want to factor in sometimes what we don’t really even consider but are also really, really essential for your well-being just small activities to do with your children, little peace of mind, things to do for yourself whether it’s 10 or 15 minutes here and there and just know that it’s going to be hectic, it’s going to be crazy but just really try your best to try to incorporate as much as you can to make sure you have sufficient time to study and some time for your family.
Ashley Baker: Crystal, what are your thoughts on that?
Crystal Taylor: I think that everything that she just said is very, very accurate. As far as me, I — prior to starting law school I was kind of notorious not for being like a scatterbrain or anything like that, but I just always had this thought that everything is just going to come together.
Life with small kids is hectic, life with small kids and for — in my situation, I’m not sure about the other ladies and being a single parent is even more hectic. So I think my best friend and best advice for any mother or any parent who is trying to go to law school is just to get real organized.
I’m on a strict schedule, I don’t deviate from my schedule. We eat at this time, we take a bath at this time, we study at this time, and I mean, sometimes it can be overwhelming a little bit for my kids because they are small and they do get sidetracked but in order for me to run my household the way I need to run it still be able to get adequate study time, which I never feel like, it’s never enough, and not just for studying any aspect of your life.
But when I do that I feel like I have more accomplished, get accomplished when I just stay really, really strict to the schedule. Also as was just pointed out, it’s super-important to just have some time away from studying, and I tell people all the time, if I get home on Friday night, I’m probably — I’m not going to pick up a book.
I feel like Friday night is my time for me, my time for my kids, we either go out to eat, we go see a movie or maybe we just come home and I just let them totally tear up their room, well, I sit downstairs and kind of decompressing it, my mental state back together. It’s just always important just a lot some time just for your mental health and mental well-being, and all of this is really, really important if you’re going to make it through this journey.
Ashley Baker: Meghan, how about you?
Meghan Matt: Friday nights are also our like sacred family time, it’s like family Friday night, and we don’t deviate from that. I will not do anything, I’ve been asked multiple times to do things for school or other things on Friday nights and I will not do it. Friday nights are our sacred times.
So for us it’s really a balancing act. I feel like it’s one of those things where you’re balancing the dishes on each hand and everything’s spinning and you’re trying to hold everything up all the time. So none of it is easy but time management is really like they were — in agreement with what they said, time management is really everything.
I have this amount of hours every day to do things and this is what has to be done, there’s really not any deviation from those things. I’m not quite as strict with like an actual schedule but I am kind of a person that’s like, okay, these are the things that have to be accomplished today and I make sure that those things get accomplished on that day.
And so the next day I go into the next day knowing, okay, those things were down and now I can hit these things and I try and just kind of organize my week by classes and what has to be done by what day and how many hours I think it’s going to take, and then kind of fit into each day knowing about how much time that I have and how to accomplish those things.
And it is difficult with the kids and I know we’ll talk about like the guilt of it later but I do miss things and it is all kind of a struggle but I just think that in the end, it’ll be worth it and we’re showing our kids that it’s not too late to go and chase your dreams and better the world and you’re good.
Ashley Baker: Okay. So you ladies seem to have it all together. What I got from that was that setting a schedule and determining what task that you want to accomplish and then going through those things and being organized is the key to balancing, having children and being in law school.
But do you all do it completely alone or do you have some type of support system, and if you do have a support system, how essential is that to your success in law school.
Crystal Taylor: So I am a single mother of two as mentioned. I do call parents with my children’s fathers; however, in my particular situation, I’m from Georgia and their parents both their fathers are in Georgia. So essentially in Louisiana, I’m pretty much for the most part doing everything myself and I say that because I don’t believe that you necessarily do everything by yourself.
My daughter is now old enough to attend daycare, so that’s a part of what would we consider a support system.
My first year with her, she was nine-months-old when I moved to Louisiana. She just turned one-year-old when I started my first year of law school. And so that first year was extremely difficult for me, because the support system that I thought I had in place with people who are going to help care for her, so I can study and things like that, that system completely felt through, and that happened sometimes and that was kind of shattering to me.
So one of the best things that I think I did was become more transparent and as I began to get more familiar with people at my Law Center and other mothers, I just started asking questions like what — what are good daycares, who do you recommend and I was fortunate in that. I was able to find a really, really good daycare center for my daughter to attend, and also from that it’s how I found her sitter. When you wanted to have someone that you can put your child in care of, you need to have someone that you really, really trust.
Fortunately for me her teacher assistants and their family, they — pretty much individuals once they know what you’re trying to do they realize that you are in law school that you are trying to do something really, really good, you’ll be surprised by how many people are willing to help and support you. And from that it’s kind of how you form your support realm, and that support system sometimes may or may not be family, it can just be individuals in your community who are really just rallying and rooting for you.
So, yes, I do have a support system. Of course, a lot of things I do myself and that support system really comes into play around times like finals and things of that nature.
My family, although my parents, my dad and my mother, I have a wonderful father and mother. They travel when it gets close the final time. They travel all the way from Georgia and they’ll come get my little girl, because they understand the sacrifice and I understand that’s not something that everybody has, but I’m blessed in that aspect, and that’s kind of what helps me to maintain, but during the school year I’m on that planner, and just using the sitter on some weekends, like every other weekend is try so that everything doesn’t go, get too much, because I am full-time, but that’s pretty much what I utilize is that little support system, and I think that is really, really necessary 00:12:25 to be successful.
Ashley Baker: That’s awesome. You have really dedicated parents to come get your little girl during finals. Crystal, do you have any thoughts on this?
Crystal Taylor: Well, similar to Shawnita. When I got into law school, everything was dependent upon the child care, who was going to be there for my kids, and so, it’s like we make these plans and everything’s in place and I had this family member that was going to watch my kids for me, pick them up from school.
When I started law school, my daughter was — she was three, so she was not quite old enough to go to school. She still need to be in daycare but this person was like, oh, take your daughter out of daycare, I am going to stay home full-time, you can just pay me, because it’ll be less expensive in daycare and we’re all trying to save a buck while we’re in school. So I was like perfect.
So this childcare situation lasted — I don’t even think it lasted for the entire week of orientations and it was just too much for her, and I was broken. I was like, wow, I quit my job. I started school, I don’t know what I’m going to do with my kids, like how am I going to make this happen, how am I going to get my kids picked up just really, really stressed out. And the whole situation just taught me that people, people are allowed to change their mind, and if I’m going to make this work then I have to like really, really be way more self-sufficient and way more creative.
So what I did — or what ended up happening, I ended up being able to put my daughter. We have childcare on-campus, it’s really hard to get into. Some kind of way God worked it out, my daughter ended up going to childcare on-campus, so that was convenient for me because when I drop my son off in the morning which his school is close to the University too, I would drop her off on-campus. We didn’t get out of class, my 1L year till 5 o’clock, her daycare close at 5:30. I put my son in afterschool care at his school that was over at 6. So I kind of just made this like big loop to pick everybody up.
This year both of my kids luckily are in public school and an extended day, so by the time I’m done with class which last semester I got done class, I think it’s at the latest like 2:50, I still had two-and-a-half hours that I could sit at school and study before I even picked my kids up.
Additionally, I ended up meeting two girls that were an undergrad at Texas Southern in the School of Education, and they became my babysitters. They needed a job, I needed some babysitters and they both actually just graduated last weekend, so they’re both going to be teachers and I’m super-excited for them, they’re still going to sit for me and also sometimes our school schedule is a little bit different than HIC, Houston IC’s schedule for school.
So in the times where maybe my kids don’t have school and I do, I bring my kids to school. Everyone at school knows my kids because they know that there is a good chance that at least three or four times this semester they’re going to have to come to school with me. My section mates last year have watched my kids, will still watch my kids if I have a class and they don’t, there is a lady in our Financial Aid Office. As possible they handle all the financial aid. I’ll knock on her door, I’d say, hey, can my kids come sit in your class or in your office? I have a 50-minute class, so give them snacks. Let them play on the computer whatever and so, and that’s one of the reasons why I did choose the school that I’m at, because I felt family from the day that I went there. And I had more support from the people that I just met at school than I had outside of school. I don’t have parents. My mother is deceased and my father lives out of the country, so it’s me. So I really, really value the relationships that I’ve made.
Being in school my kids’ dads, one of them lives in New York, one of them lives a little ways away from me, but in Texas. So they are not able to say, hey Crystal, I’m going to come and pick the kids up and watch them. But they financially support, so that’s important too. It all helps and it all goes into the big part of what makes this whole situation work, but I’ve definitely had to rely a lot on my friends and people I’ve met at school to get me through this, and it’s really, really taxing at times, but it’s been working. So I’m going to let it work, so it doesn’t work anymore.
Ashley Baker: Megan, what do you think?
Meghan Matt: My situation is a little bit different. I am married so I do have my husband’s help, which has been a lifesaver for me. I don’t know how I would have done it otherwise big huge props to the other ladies, because you guys are superheroes. I do home school my kids, so during the day I am home with them, most of the day. A couple days a week I do have babysitters from universities here that are in college, that will come over a couple afternoons for a couple hours, so I can go to school early and have a little bit of extra study time. But most days I just go up for class, my husband and I switch off. He take I do the kids all day, he does the kids all night until I don’t get out of class until 9 usually, and as the semester progresses, I am usually there quite a bit later till 11 or 12, studying plus weekend.
So without him I really — this has been a lot easier for me because of his support, but sometimes support also for me looks like my classmates and colleagues whenever, for example, Halloween this year, I decided I was going to take my kids trick-or-treating, and I wasn’t going to miss it for class again, like I did last year, and I’m lucky enough to have friends in class who will give me notes and who will share what they learned in class and I know in some situations, some universities that people are not that way, but I’m thankful that we generally are and people will help each other and so sometimes my support system it’s not family, sometimes my support system is it’s my friends at school.
And I think we just kind of all try our best to really lift each other up as finals approach, it gets absolutely bananas, I don’t see my kids or my husband for a month, same home from church, so I basically live at the library. My husband hates that entire month. He hates his life and we always try and do something nice for him when it’s over because he does carry such a big load during those weeks. But I always say like I need to just set up a bed at school, because I basically live there the month of finals, but it’s all — it’s all we can do it, when I’m — people may work when I’m at home I’m chasing four kids all the time or teaching them or doing cleaning up after them, and so I don’t have that time.
So we just have to kind of make it work, fit it in, do what we can and I think no matter what our situation you find the people who surround you are there for a reason, and even though our situations look different, I feel like we all kind of make it work the way that it has to work within our own lives, and if we can do it, then no somebody else can too.
Ashley Baker: It seems like you all have found some level of support at school. So I kind of just want to circle back to something that Crystal said, so you guys have childcare services at Texas Southern, right?
Crystal Taylor: We have the daycare on-campus and we have a charter school — I think there’s two charter schools on-campus. One of them is through the University and then one of them I think is through and I’m not sure but from what I understand it’s like a SIM program, but it’s not run by the school, so probably the daycare anyone who’s — anyone’s kids can go there. Obviously, people who are students or faculty have priority, but usually the waiting list is super-long, it’s a very, very, very small child care center, so it can be hard to — to get your kids into the daycare but much easier for the charter schools that are on-campus.
Ashley Baker: Okay, so the childcare is a part of the larger University and not the Law School, right?
Crystal Taylor: Yes, yes.
Ashley Baker: Okay. Do you think that law students, particularly parents, would benefit from law schools having childcare available to students?
Crystal Taylor: I definitely think it would be a benefit. I’m not sure how there — for instance their 1L year was structured, but they structured our class schedule, so that, I mean, you — we were there from 8 to 5, like you might have a little bit of breaks in between, but not even that time really to leave from campus more than to grab something to eat and like the direct vicinity of this school like do not leave this two block area, and sometimes by the time we could get out of class childcare centers were closed.
So, for a situation like that if you require your students to be at school all day long or you require I know – some of my class is mid semester, don’t end till 7:40. I don’t know too many daycares that are open till 7:40 at night, so I think that depending upon how your school, your Law School wants to structure their class schedule that they should, because had I not had that situation, had I not had that childcare, I wouldn’t have had anyone to watch my kids. I wouldn’t have had anyone to keep them, so I can’t go to class if there’s no one there for my kids, so — and that’s why I said it’s depending on the Law School and how they structure their classes then I totally think that they should make accommodations for students with children, so that they are able to attend classes that are late.
Meghan Matt: And if I could — I’d like to add to that Mrs. Shawnita, I definitely agree that law centers would definitely benefit their students, of course, would benefit in I guess overall they would as well to having — from having some type of childcare facilities or their law students. At southern our 1L year was structured. So many Mondays, Wednesdays, well, for my schedule personally being full-time, we will get out in the evening and then on Thursdays we’ll have like doctrinal sessions in which we have to attend and some of those when that ends like 4:45 and what have you. So at that time my daughter was in daycare, but as I believe Crystal was mentioning a lot of daycare centers depending on where your child attends they are closing at 5:36 and I really don’t know any that stays open up until 7 o’clock.
So, when you factor in things like traffic and things of that nature, I mean, you’re barely making it to even pick your child up. My first year I was fortunate enough to have my daughter’s grandma who she calls her Gigi, our father’s side she lived in Baton Rouge, she since moved, so on those longer days she was able to leave pick up my daughter from daycare to make sure I was able, so I didn’t 00:24:20 when you’re late at daycare centers they charge you a rate, you get charged for being late and as law students our money is very limited as is, so we’re not trying to spend any extra money. So it was fortunate that she was at least able to do that, but since a good portion of our law schools are house within the larger community of the University, so at southern — of course we have Southern University and then we have Southern University Law Center.
Having some type of daycare facility or childcare facilities especially for those smaller children would actually help both sides, because on the domain side with the main campus you have your education majors and things who have to have certain observational hours and need to maintain that, but they also have their own class schedules.
So if you’re able to have an accredited daycare center or say your law school students that will benefit your day students, your part, really everybody and especially your evening students and have more flexible hours, because some of your undergraduate students or whomever or even master programs, anyone in the education center who will be able to kind of stay in there with those children, it will help the law students to feel better knowing that my child right here I can go here to look at them, I know they are in a safe place and I can focus, because even in order for you to study you have to know your child is safe, you’re worried about your child, you’re not going to be able to focus. But having some type of center on-campus would be phenomenal, it doesn’t even matter what law center it’s like, having something right there we can just, boom, go there and just spend your weekends or evenings or whatever. Studying that would be awesome and that’s something I think that locking us really should look into investing, you are bringing some type of program like that in.
Ashley Baker: Okay. Meghan, do you have any thoughts on on-campus childcare?
Meghan Matt: I really. I mean, under grants everything they said. I am a strong believer that everywhere should have childcare. Workplaces, schools, every place that a woman has to be at or a father has to be at every day. There have been studies done of course, I can’t recall the data at this moment, but there have been studies done that people are actually more effective at their jobs when they are able to know that their children are safe like she was saying and they are close by where women who are nursing can go run and nurse their child instead of have to go sit in a bathroom and pump. When all these different situations are happening having your child younger children obviously older ones and not school-age, but is a more effective way to get things done, it’s better for the employer, it’s better for the school, it’s better for the child, it’s better for the parent.
So, I am a big believer in it. I definitely agree at a university that has a regular undergraduate University and a Law Center should probably have that option, because there are probably so many parents on-campus that on a daily basis are trying to figure out what to do with their children, so yeah, I definitely agree would be a great addition.
Ashley Baker: Yeah. So, I follow all of you guys on social media and you all make it look so easy. So, we talked about your schedules and childcare arrangements and being organized, but how do you deal with the unexpected like let’s say you wake up one morning and your child is feeling ill and they can’t attend daycare or they can’t attend school? How do you adjust in those types of situations?
Crystal Taylor: When you have a child that’s one of those things that is going to happen. Especially when they’re younger they’re going to be sick and run fevers, that’s going to happen, so what you do — what I did to kind of handle everything knowing that that’s something that’s going to happen, you have to consider I know it’s sudden we have an attendance policy and most law centers do where you’re required to attend I believe 80% of your classes are ABA standards. With that being said you really have to try your best to not miss any of those days and leave those days for your child because at some point it may happen or is going to happen just a little side story into how this happened to me.
Your first year at Southern, you can go to or like to do a — you do a pre-law program and then we have this first couple weeks is kind of like your transition into law school. So I attended that transition and during that period again my daughter was just turning one so she had to get her booster shots and all that to prepare for going to daycare.
So, right before her first birthday or right immediately after she got her shots and she was supposed to start daycare the same week or do like a few days before my actual real first day at law school was, and of course, since she’s never been in daycare and never been around a whole bunch of kids, of course, she got sick, she had a fever and mothers, you know, how that goes like when it’s that.
So, I was devastated because what that meant was my first two days of law school I missed my actual first real two days and I was really devastated because I worked so hard to even try to get into law school, but the mom you mean I knew that I had to care for her, so one of the major things that you should do is be transparent with your law professors, so I sent out emails and let them know and come into your 1L year, you don’t know what the expectation is, I didn’t know what does this mean if miss his days or you know, kick me out, I mean, I was — I didn’t know.
So I just emailed them and let them know exactly what was going on, and you will be surprised sometimes the feedback that you get, just off the top of my head one of the professors that I emailed whether or not going to miss the first day of class because my daughter is sick, she’s running a fever, I don’t know when it’s going to break and she’s young. So I’m limited with what I can give her was I had a professor who talked contract my freshman year in the fall, well my 1L year, Nadya Nestle, she emailed me back. I mean — and her email was full of so much positivity and kind words and she was like I totally get it. From that email I found out you were the exact same age, she was a non-traditional student, she was in the exact same age I was when I started. She had two kids so she’s like I understand, I’ve been there, I’ve been in your shoes and she was like, don’t worry about, we’ll catch you up, it’s not a problem.
I had another professor. She came and had really kind words and when I went to her office she’s like, don’t even — they were just like don’t worry about it, you’re not missing too much. We understand and they’ll check on — check to see how my children were doing.
So knowing, I guess the advice I would give, save the day and you have to let your professors know what’s going on once you begin to make contacts and friends with people at your Law Center, let them know what’s going on so that way you can make sure you get your notes or whatever thing, but it’s going to happen sometimes. You just have to just kind of handle the best you can and if you’re fortunate to have a good support system and also depending upon how long that if it’s like a cold or flu or not necessarily a flu, let’s say like a cold or something that may last a day too.
You might be able to have someone that steps in and watches your child see don’t miss school. But if you have to just understand that it’s going to happen sometime and it’s okay, just communicate what’s going on and you’ll make. It’s just one of those things that you have to get through as a mother.
Ashley Baker: Crystal, what do you think?
Crystal Taylor: We have a similar attendance policy as she just mentioned and I kind of do the same thing. I just really, really, really try and reserve my absences for my kids because I just never know what’s going to happen. Crazy mess, every midterm and finals period I’ve had 00:32:32 one of my children has become all of a sudden deathly ill or they’ve gotten me deathly ill. So it’s kind of like these running joke at school that if it’s going to be exam time, someone in my house is going to be sick.
I really always regard my absences for that time because I decide — I know something is going to happen. This semester my son got really, really sick so he couldn’t go to school, so I’m doing what I would normally do and email my professor, if I’m probably emailing them a little bit too much giving them an hour by hour, play by play what’s going on, but I was nervous because I was missing a lot of days. So one day I just was like, Jude, you have to come to school with mom because I miss to the point where he could not go to school yet because his doctor wouldn’t release him to go to school but he was running around my house. You know how kids are. They are sick — they are not sick as far as running around the house and sharing everything up and telling you that they are bored. So, technically, you’re going to come to school with me.
So I brought him to school and 00:33:46 and professor’s office hours and he literally was like, why are you here? Go home. Like your son is sick, you sent me the note. You’re fine. Go home. Keep up with your reading. Don’t come back up here again until the day on this note 00:34:03 he could go back to school.
So I just really appreciate that because they want us to be in class and another thing that I do too is obviously we’re all dedicated. I really, really, really try and make sure I’m on my Ps and Qs when I am in class so that when I do have a situation where my kid 00:34:24 my professors don’t think, oh, this girl, she always has something, something’s always going on, like my professors know that I’m on top of my work. I’m not missing class unless I absolutely have to.
Though when I do reach out to them like, hey, this kid is sick or I need to not come to your class because I have to take my kids to doctor. It’s like, they don’t think I’m making excuses, they know that I handle business 00:34:54 part of my business as well because I am a student 00:34:58 so I just kind of just go with the conscience if at all we know things are going to happen so I just always want to be seeing in the best light by my professors and by my colleagues because they help me too, they give me notes, they record lecturers for me, and they might not do that if they think I’m never coming to class. So, that’s just what I do to make it work for me.
Meghan Matt: So for me, obviously it’s a little bit different because I’m an evening student. So doctor’s appointments and home schools that I’m missing schools, all of those things look a little bit different. The main way it affects me personally is when they are sick and they just want their mom and so one weekend, I can’t leave to go study, I know people who can study at their house but I am not one of them.
I require like total silence. I can’t even go to coffee shop like I have to be in a library and so total silence and four kids and four dogs do not go together. So when my kids are sick I’m not able to really get as much accomplished so then it ends up affecting my schoolwork more than perhaps missing classes.
So that is really just one of those things where I just have to make it up but I try and stay ahead throughout the semester of my work and of my reading so that if something unexpected happens, when something unexpected happens, I don’t fall so far behind so that’s just kind of like my little way that I stay less stressed is just to be a little tiny bit ahead. And if I’m a little tiny bit ahead then that gives me that little buffer. So that when something comes up I am able to handle it, and then sometimes it really is a support system thing. A couple of weeks ago, I was walking into a final and my babysitter called me and said that my child had cut her foot open like wide open and she needed to go to the emergency room.
And so, my husband had to leave work and go pick her up and I had to walk into my final not knowing if my baby was okay, but that was just what kind of had to happen at that time. And of course, there’s guilt associated with that but sometimes unexpected things happen and you don’t — it’s a final or like it’s — you have a presentation or there’s something that you can’t miss, and so that’s really when having other people around you that you can trust and support you really comes in super clutch.
Ashley Baker: So it looks like we’re going up against the end of our time and I think we have time for one more question. So we’ve talked about how stressful law school is and how hectic it is and all the complexities of that. People often say though that the level of stress and the level of work doesn’t end after graduation and once you enter firm life.
So very quickly, what are your plans for after law school and do you view graduation as a finish line, meaning that you anticipate that life may go back to normal or some sense of normal after law school or do you think that law life is your new normal?
Shawnita Goosby: I’m laughing because, yeah, I think the latter portion, law life is the life, it is the new normal. I don’t really see myself as going back to I don’t remember what was before law school now anymore. So the thing that I appreciate is if you actually use the time that we have in law school and working your time management and especially dealing with children and all of that as we transition into the workforce, I believe that we do have almost an edge above some individuals in that, we have no choice but time management and use all of our time of every day maximize and still go and do, give our best, 100% of the time.
That kind of transitioned really smoothly into the workforce, and I know as far as myself, I was working like 10-plus years before going back to law school, so I planned on using that experience plus what I’ve learned in law school, and obviously, my goal would be to be employed at the law school. And then I have some things that I want to do partly in regards to like investments and different things I want to do on the side. But, this life is the new life, it’s like law and mommy life together, yeah.
Crystal Taylor: I have a similar thought because I’m not even sure if I know what normal is at this point. I think that once I graduate I’m just going to have to create a new normal. Before I started law school I thought that I wanted to do Family Law. My thoughts have changed a little bit.
So I am not quite sure in what I want to practice in yet. I also would hope to be gainfully employed as well because I’ve looked at my student loans; even though, they are not going anywhere anytime soon, but I just think that there is so much space for me to do so many things.
It’s really, really hard right now for me to even put my finger on what exactly it is that I want to do at this point, but I’m excited about all the options that I have. For me, right now, thinking I move out of Texas as part of my journey next. So I am exploring maybe not taking the Texas bar. So like I said I’m up in the air but I’m really just excited that I went back to school at home at 31 years — well, when I was 31, I thought that this was something that I could not do.
And I always want to stress to not just single parents but parents and this is doable, this is feasible it’s a lot. It is not easy. I am stressed out a lot but once the stress passes and I regroup, this is feasible, this is hard when you don’t have kids. So at least you have like your little people to cheer you on in the background like my son will tell people mommy can’t do this because mommy has to go study.
And even though, he’s making noise in the background while I’m studying like my kids know what I’m doing. So I’m just really excited to be this example for them that you can do whatever you want to do. There is no timeframe on going back or revisiting or reinventing yourself and I just want to stress that to everyone.
Ashley Baker: Meghan.
Meghan Matt: Yes, so it is, I think law school is the beginning of the race, of the marathon. I don’t definitely by no means think it’s the end. So, like for my family having a mixture of younger and older, my older kids were used to maybe in home. I ran businesses and stuff like I was an entrepreneur and stuff before I did community activism and advocacy.
But I was predominantly home. So like my ten-year-old will say things like fake comments about how I’m never home for these things I can’t take them to dance anymore. I missed their first day of dance for the first time whenever I started school. So things like that are still a transition for us. I think they will probably always still be difficult, more difficult from my older ones and my younger ones who were more since their first memory have been in law school.
So I am 36, I’m a non-traditional student, I came to school to do promote defense work and civil rights litigation, that’s what I came to school for. So when I get out that is all I care about doing — I don’t intend to work at a big firm before I came, one thing is that I spoke with people who said, you don’t have to go because I was really concerned. I was going to get out and have to grind out 80 hours a week and that doesn’t — it’s just not conducive with my lifestyle and I wasn’t willing to make that much of a sacrifice of never seeing my children.
And so someone really encouraged me and that was one big reason that I went is that you take a job where you can come home to be with your kids and yes, there will be trial prep and you will — there will be weeks at a time where you don’t get to come home as much but that doesn’t have to be your entire life.
And so I do intend on like the other ladies hopefully have a job when this is over and there will be a transition for my kids as they start regular school and there will be all kinds — I think this was just going to be a life of transitions from one thing to the next and we can’t ever really get too comfortable because there will be some sort of other thing that comes up and we have to take care of it.
But as I’ve said I just I really believe that we as parents, as mothers are showing our children that it’s not too late to pursue their dreams. It’s not — there’s never a right time. My husband and I talked for 11 years about me going to law school. It was always the plan we just kept waiting for the right time, and finally, it was like that there is no right time so you just have to decide.
And so, when I get out, I think it’s going to be kind of like I said one transition after the next and we’re just going to hold hands, empower through and do it together.
Ashley Baker: Well ladies, thank you so much for being guest on the podcast today. Your insight and your honesty is going to help a lot of students. It was a pleasure, truly a pleasure to have you ladies on. I learned so much myself. So we hope you enjoyed this episode of the Law Student Podcasts.
We would like to invite you to subscribe to the ABA Law Student Podcast on iTunes. You can reach us on Facebook at ABA for Law Students and follow us and all of our student leaders at #ABAForLawStudents.
Signing off, I’m Ashley Baker. Thank you for listening and remember this quote from first lady, Michelle Obama. “There is no magic to achievement. It’s really about hard work, choices, and persistence.”
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