My name is Michael Buckley, and I am a second-year law student at BYU. While law school certainly takes a
considerable amount of time, energy, and effort each day, I try to balance the rigors of the classroom with activities that I am passionate about.
My wife and I met rock climbing, and we love to spend most days at the climbing gym, or if the weather permits, outside in the mountains. On other days, we like to wind down from our busy work and school schedules at the yoga studio, or simply with a movie.
One of the most important parts of law school is finding a balance between work and relaxation. Each student’s needs are different, but I think everyone would agree that too much time spent working can burn you out, and be detrimental rather than beneficial in the long run.
Learn more about what a typical day in law school is like for me below.
Transactional Law, Property, Asset Protection
Rock Climbing, Soccer, Yoga, Piano
Associate Editor for BYU Law Review
Q: How does your experience in law school compare with the expectations you had when you began?Michael: It’s always pretty hard to imagine what something is going to be like until you actually experience it for yourself. I have friends who have been through law school, and my father is an attorney, so I had heard stories about how much time it required, and how demanding it could be. My first semester in law school was a bit of a shock, and at some points I felt both mentally and emotionally unprepared. But it was never too much to handle, and after a semester, I had a much better idea of what was expected of me, and what I needed to do to succeed. Conversely, I had no idea how enjoyable it could actually be, how powerful the sense of camaraderie and support with fellow students was, and how rewarding an intense and thoughtful class discussion could be.
Q: In terms of time, what sacrifices have you made to attend law school? What sacrifices have you not made?Michael: One of the things I loved to do before I started law school was to read books. I studied English in college, and have always been very passionate about literature. I used to read a few books a month. In law school, I don’t have nearly as much free time to read the books that I would like to. While it was initially a bit discouraging to spend all of my reading time in casebooks, I have gotten used to finding little joys in the few minutes I spend here and there in Steinbeck or Dostoyevsky. I have chosen to not make sacrifices when it comes to the things that matter most, such as church and family. However busy the day may be, I can’t miss sitting down to dinner together with my wife, and doing something enjoyable each day. I also have tried to practice the piano a few hours each week, and to keep my Sundays free from work or study.
Q: Though law school can often be difficult, what are the rewarding aspects? What motivates you to put in the hard work?Michael: Since I was in kindergarten, I have always striven to succeed in school. I am a bit of a perfectionist, and so I couldn’t imagine showing up to class without having done the reading or preparing for a discussion. My motivation comes from those moments when I am sitting in class, whether actively participating or simply listening, and things just make sense. I think that ultimately the motivation behind every student’s efforts in law school is to be able to eventually begin practicing law so that we can provide for our families and make a living. This is usually enough motivation for me. In the same way, when I think about the future clients that I will be interacting with, I can’t help but measure myself, and desire to learn as much as I can in order to be an effective advocate. This desire helps me to continually apply myself and keep my nose to the grindstone.
Q: What do you do to maintain a sense of peace or even balance in law school? How do you manage stress?Michael: In addition to doing things that I am passionate about, I like to read a poem each day. I subscribe to Poetry Foundation, and they send me a daily poem. Getting that morning email is a highlight to my day! For me it has a humanizing influence, and helps me to articulate an inner life for myself--something that is all-too-often poorly expressed and rarely examined. It helps remind me that I am human. My wife also recently got me into yoga, and not only is it proving to be a perfect solution to the stresses of my life, but it is also making me a more gentle, empathetic person.
Q: What do you wish you had known when you were a prospective student about what law school would be like?Michael: One of the things that has been very beneficial to me, and that not a lot of law students actually do, is to take advantage of a professor’s office hours. They are ready and willing to answer questions or explain a difficult concept. This has helped my confidence in class rise, and has better-prepared me for final exams. When you ask anyone about law school, they will usually say or at least imply that it is hard, or that it will make your life busy. Both of these things are true. But if you can learn to manage your time well, it will be so much more enjoyable. Three of the specific skills that I think are indispensable to a good law student are to 1) learn how to take efficient and thorough notes (different students have different preferences. Find out what works best for you); 2) Learn how to outline before and after class, and 3) learn how to take written final exams. Since your grade is often largely based off the final exam, you would do well to spend lots of time practicing your writing, and outlining answers in clear and succinct ways.
7:00 Wake up, go on a run 7:30 Shower, eat breakfast, prepare for school. 8:00 Bike or drive to the law school. 8:10 Review my notes and the readings for my first class--In addition to reading and preparing for class the day before, I like to spend about an hour before each class to review my notes and the cases, update my outline, and prepare for class discussion. That way I feel ready to participate and can engage in a more effective manner if I am called on to do so. 9:30-10:45 Copyright Law Class 11:00 Read and outline for next day’s classe. 12:00 Eat lunch, take a mental break from reading for at least 30 minutes, or attend a guest lecture 1:00 Read and outline for next day’s classes 2:00 Review notes and readings for my next class 2:30-3:45 Environmental Law Class 4:00-4:50 Trusts Class 5:00 Travel home; help prepare dinner with my wife; eat dinner 6:30 Rock climbing at The Quarry, or Yoga at 3B; I do one of these each night with my wife. 8:00 Back home and reading for next day’s classes. I don’t have kids, so it is easy and quiet enough to study at my apartment until bedtime. Otherwise I would normally travel back to the law school to study for a couple of hours. 10:00 Scripture/Gospel study 10:45 Retire
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