The summer is the perfect time to rediscover your true self, renew relationships, and return to favorite pastimes before school starts again in the fall. If you are attending summer school for part of the summer or studying for the bar, then use the time wisely before and after those obligations. If you are working for the summer, then use your evenings and weekends to your advantage.
Celebrate your positive attributes, talents, and personal values. Law students can become so focused on grades, competition team slots, journal membership, prestigious summer employment, and other law school trappings that they overlook their worth as people. Put aside the law school definitions of worth and instead focus on who you are as an individual.
Refocus on your own positive attributes: integrity, compassion, kindness, patience, loyalty, self-control, and more. Use talents that you have neglected during the year, whether as an artist, a poet, a cook, or a woodworker. Remember your personal values and recapture ways to act on those values: service to others, personal growth, spiritual growth, and more.
Spend the summer using your attributes, talents, and values to make a difference in your life and the lives of others. Whether you choose joining a support group for weight loss, volunteering with a nonprofit, or helping an elderly relative repair a house, use your time to advantage. By rediscovering your own worth outside law school, you will renew your life and nourish your soul. By reconnecting to what really matters to you in life, you will be able to keep your perspective when you return to the confined environment of law school. By reflecting on who you are and what you value, you will be reminded of why you chose law and what you hope to accomplish as a lawyer.
Surround yourself with people who believe in you as a person and support you for who you are. People who knew you before you went to law school know a great deal about your attributes, talents, and personal values. They likely also know your hopes, dreams, and desire to make a difference. Fill your summer with people who will encourage you and celebrate you—not because you are a law student, but because you are you. If you have not found at least one mentor among these people already, consider whether there is someone you could ask to play that role in your life.
Spend time with family and friends. In the midst of the academic semester, it is easy to leave early from family gatherings, attend dinner with friends but skip the movie afterward, cut phone calls short, and generally avoid social engagements because of the pressure of studying. Spouses get used to going to some couple social functions alone. Older children learn to be quiet when a parent is studying at home. Your own parents realize that spontaneous weekend visits are things of the past. Friends realize not to bother asking if you can join them for a mid-week dinner.
It is difficult for family and friends to understand your law school life if they have not themselves attended. Your explanations may not make sense to them. You may get frustrated with their resistance when you make what seem, to a law student, to be reasonable requests. You may never get them to understand law school and the life of a law student. But you can get them to understand that you still care about them even if you have different demands on your time.
Now that summer has arrived, plan day trips, dinners, and other events with friends and family to relax and get reacquainted. As a parent, plan a few adventures with your children to thank them for giving you time to study. A romantic outing for you and your spouse can be a thank you for the sacrifices made during the semester. These thank-you gestures don’t have to be expensive; they just need to be from the heart.
Make a list of some of your favorite things to do. Whether you lean toward reading mysteries while swinging in the hammock or playing softball with a local league, include items that will give you pleasure and bring fun back into your life. In addition to items that you want to do with others, include some items you will do alone. Alone time can often be especially refreshing when you are trying to recharge your batteries.
Pick one or two of the choices on your list and begin them as soon as possible. Make plans to add other items to your schedule as the summer progresses. However, do not make the mistake of scheduling yourself into exhaustion. Your goal is not mere busyness; it is rejuvenating your mind, body, and soul.
Get into a healthy routine for the summer. Law students tend to fall into bad habits: too little sleep, no exercise, and unhealthy eating habits. Add a minimum of seven hours of sleep, three balanced meals, and 150 minutes a week of exercise to your schedule. A healthy routine is one of the quickest ways to fight fatigue and diminish accumulated stress.
Continue your healthy lifestyle throughout the rest of law school and when you begin to practice. Those in the law need to implement healthy routines because their profession can become overwhelming if they do not. Stress and burnout are common among lawyers who do not have good habits to gain balance in their lives.
Make this summer about renewing your relationships and rediscovering your self-worth outside law school. You will be far more refreshed and positive when you return to the law school routine.
Vol. 41 No. 9