By Rebecca Spence
As I walked off the elevator on the ninth floor of my downtown office space, I sleepily lugged my overstuffed book bag to my desk and plugged in my password to fire up my desktop. Before August 15, my routine involved selecting the next episode in my never-ending queue of “This American Life” and scrolling through the “quick and dirty” news highlights before assessing my workload for the day. I picked up both habits in my journalistic and public relations endeavors prior to securing my current 9-to-5 position. Now that August 15 has come and gone, my days have started to run a slightly different course.
Deciding to apply for the evening program at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law was not an easy move to make. I spent time consulting with attorneys, current law students in both the day and evening programs, members of the legal community, members of academia, friends, random strangers with a lot to say, other people thinking of taking the LSAT, and family members before even deciding that going to law school was a goal that I wanted to achieve.
After a seemingly endless 30-day wait period, I received my acceptance email and started the mental preparation process for what was to come. I knew I would be busier than ever before, forced to balance everything I had going on while also throwing school in the mix. Despite these pressures, I was ready for something mentally stimulating. I reserved the last days of summer for spending time outside, expanding my yoga practice, relaxing and visiting family.
Now that classes are in full swing, I am starting to get the hang of returning to school after a three-year hiatus. Each day, I understand a little bit more about what it means to be part of the small section of students known as 1LEs. Our orientation leaders boasted about the diversity of the students within our section and the unique life experiences and perspectives those experiences bring to class. During the orientation presentations that followed, we heard from professors, employers and the administration about the special appreciation they have for evening students. Theoretically, most of us bring knowledge of communication standards and an expected work ethic from our day jobs. We understand that slacking off is not an option with the amount of money and time we have invested in returning to school for a law degree. To put our dynamic into perspective, we took a survey by hand during orientation of how many of us had full-time jobs during the day, and about five or six out of 39 students did not raise his or her hand. I can’t help but to think what an honor it is to be learning with people of all professional backgrounds, ages, genders, races, religions and socio-economic statuses. I now realize how truly lucky I am to be able to learn with individuals who have seemingly done it all.
Although we have tailored our schedules to fit our individual needs, here is a taste of my personal to-do list on top of the four nights a week I attend evening classes. I work a 9-to-5 to pay the bills and teach yoga once a week and dog-sit for my mental state. Aside from these monetarily rewarding commitments, it is important to make sure that I have time for my family, boyfriend (who is also in school and working), friends, exercising, attending networking events, participating in various organizations, eating and sleeping. To some (or maybe not, as you are most likely a practicing attorney if you are reading this), the amount of things I am juggling may seem a little excessive. In reality, my workload is about average when measured up against the pursuits of some of the rock stars in my class. I hope that this semester will blow me away with all of the things I have always wondered about the law and inspire me to work diligently and wholeheartedly to contribute to my community. When I walk up to my ninth floor office, instead of choosing a podcast, I now enjoy a quick but thoughtful moment of meditation in preparation for the exhilarating events I have to tackle for the day.
Rebecca Spence is pursuing her J.D. through the evening program at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. She is a member of the Honor Board, the Water Law Review, and the Natural Resources and Environmental Law Society. During the day, she works in the Sections & Committees Department for the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations. In her spare time, she teaches yoga, explores the great outdoors and enjoys live music. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously published in The Docket.