Law Student Perspectives: Timing

Michael Liik

By Michael Liik, 3L Candidate at Pace University School of Law and City Bar Student Ambassador

I was in my late twenties, married, and had a career in finance. Life was great, I had a loving and beautiful wife, fantastic apartment with skyline views, and I was advancing in my career. Yet, I was unable to shake my desire to earn a law degree, a desire that had been with me since undergraduate school. The more the years passed, the more the idea of going back to school seemed both impossible and impractical. The timing just never seemed right. Nonetheless, with an undying intellectual curiosity for the law and a very supportive wife, I decided to leave my job and return to academia.

While being an older, wiser law student (OWLS) is not impressively unique, us OWLS are a minority. Distinguished from our “straight-through” classmates, not only by a few more gray hairs and wrinkles, but also by responsibilities, obligations, and commitments that most law students do not need to balance with their academic lives. While OWLS do have these extrinsic happenings, also known as adult life, we are also uniquely positioned to have a deep appreciation for the opportunity to study the law.

 I am not going to lie and pretend that every moment of my law school career has been a joyous opportunity to study the law, because it hasn’t. I’m sure this is true for most law students. Having left a career in finance, I often found myself asking, “What have I done?” Leaving a career behind and losing most of my free time to sit in a lecture hall waiting to be cold-called! However, I understood that worthy undertakings are rarely easy to complete, no matter the unique circumstances.

The struggle of shifting from a professional life to academic life was challenging. A challenge I honestly could not have conquered if not for the support of my wife. Just like all law students, I found my way through 1L and 2L year. But my 2L was remarkably different than that of my colleagues, as my wife and I jubilantly welcomed our daughter into the world. Spring of my 2L was filled with excitement.

Now having transferred blackacre countless times, spoken a few excited utterances, and learned who caused poor Mrs. Palsgraf’s accident, I am slightly more relaxed and comfortable in my academic life as a 3L. Collectively, we law students compete for success and struggle to find balance. Nevertheless, as an OWLS it was vital for me not to allow time to pass me by simply because it required a trip outside of my comfort zone.

Father Time and his infuriating punctuality will seldom be on your side. The timing will rarely, if ever, be right. Going back to school in my late twenties, being a husband, having a baby, being a successful law student, are all things which, when coupled together, do not seem well-timed. In my case, the timing was not great, and it would have been understandable to put things off. Nonetheless, I made it all happen.