Day in the Life of a 2L: Barbara Finlinson

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My name is Barbara Finlinson, and I am a 2L at BYU Law.

I have a large family and my priority is to make my schedule work for them. I try to schedule my classes so that I can spend as much meaningful time with them as possible. My goal is that my career in the law will not come at their expense and hopefully they can learn and grow from my experience in law school as well. The 2L year of law school offers a little more flexibility in terms of class scheduling, so I have been able to attend my children’s activities, work part-time in the legal field, and be involved in law clubs and special interest groups in addition to attending classes.

Learn more about what a typical day in law school is like for me below.

Q: How does your experience in law school compare with the expectations you had when you began?

Barbara: I think my expectations, in terms of time, were exactly what I thought they would be. As you prepare for the law school experience there are always plenty of people to tell you that it will consume your life and you won’t have any time to do anything else. I expected that and, in a sense, that is true. However, once you settle into a routine, the law school life is incredibly doable for anyone that has the passion, drive, and work ethic to be accepted. There are moments that are extremely difficult; however, there are also moments when the light shines through the clouds and you remember the things that brought you to law school in the first place. I love helping people and solving problems. When I feel like I have achieved those things, even on a small scale, I realize that the difficulties of law school are and will be worth it in the future. In addition, the friendships you make during law school will be treasured for a lifetime.

Q: Though law school can often be difficult, what are the rewarding aspects? What motivates you to put in the hard work?

Barbara: I definitely spend less time with my husband and children. However, I don’t feel like that sacrifice is in vain. I think the time I spend with them now is more meaningful because I value it and use it wisely. I also feel like the things I learn, my example of hard work, and the discussions I have with my family regarding the things I learn will be invaluable to them as they pursue higher education and raise a family. It is hard to put into words the things you learn when you go to law school. It is not just about learning the law. It is about learning problem-solving skills, being responsible citizens, maintaining good relationships, and learning how to work hard. These are all things I hope to teach my children and attending law school has been a great avenue to do exactly that. In addition, BYU Law is awesome to include family members in a myriad of ways. My older daughters were able watch me compete in a trial advocacy competition. I have been able to take children to class or bring them to study rooms so I could listen to class. In addition to family, I’ve been able to answer questions and provide learning to other students who are interested in become law students in the future. This has been a great joy to me as I love helping people succeed with their goals.  

Q: In terms of time, what sacrifices have you made to attend law school? What sacrifices have you not made?

Barbara: At the end of the day, I want to help people. Law school has given me that opportunity in a much larger way than I could have achieved before. I want to work in a field I have passion for. Bringing people a measure of peace during a difficult time is something I could advocate for throughout my career and for the rest of my life.

Q: What do you do to maintain a sense of peace or even balance in law school? How do you manage stress?

Barbara: Sleep is key for me. I need to make sure I get plenty of sleep. I always put sleep as a top priority and set goals so that I don’t have to stay up too late. It sounds simple but for me it is absolutely imperative.

Q: What do you wish you had known when you were a prospective student about what law school would be like?

Barbara: If I could give anyone advice for law school it would be to choose extra activities wisely. As a 2L, I have found that people frequently bite off more than they can chew during their second year of law school. It is very important to choose extra activities, such as clubs and co-curriculars, wisely and focus only on the things that you truly love or that will have a positive impact on your actual career. People get way too caught up in “resume padding” during the 2L year and, as a result, can become very overwhelmed. I have been the victim of my own ambition several times. However, I am learning to separate the things that will truly make a difference on my resume from the things that won’t and successfully turning down those opportunities. Learning to say “no” is a very good lesson to learn during law school.

5:00 Wake up, go for a run/walk  5:30 Get ready for the day   6:00 Reread/skim class material for the day. I like to be extra prepared for class and so I always take a few minutes to at least skim my notes from readings the previous day.  7:30 Eat breakfast, pack food for the day  8:00 Drop my kids off at school and drive to the law school or my job, depending on the day of the week  8:45 Arrive at work  8:50 Begin working on assignments from the attorneys in the office or visit the attorneys in their offices to obtain feedback on my previous assignments and receive new assignments.  11:30 Answer emails from the previous day  12:00 Lunch  12:30 Drive to the law school  1:00 Work on homework and readings for upcoming classes  2:30 Class  4:00 Class  5:40 Drive Home  6:30 Make dinner, drive my children to their dance/sports/tumbling activities  7:30 Help my children with their homework. During this time, I also complete various written assignments for my classes as well. This makes homework a good family experience.  8:30 Daily Scripture study with my children  9:30 Finish readings for the next day  10:30 Retire

Comments (1)

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    Barbara,

    Thank you so much for posting your schedule and comments!!

    I am a prospective law student and a mom of 4, one is special needs with a disabled husband. I’m very involved in my children’s lives, have volunteer commitments and part-time work I find very fulfilling. I had been worried I would need to sacrifice many of these activities as well as sleep for law school but your blog posting put my mind as ease.

    Could you also share your schedule from when you were a 1st year law student?

    Thanks again.

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