Learn how real students navigate their way through the graduate school admissions process and grad school itself with our What is Graduate School Really Like? series.
Meet Jeré, a career-changer and busy mom, who believes in inspiring others to pursue their dreams.
Jeré, thank you for sharing your story with us!
I understand law is a second career for you. When and how did you realize this was the right path for you?
Jeré: I realized a career in law was for me after going through a difficult separation and divorce. I was left alone and pregnant with baby number three and my life was falling apart. To fix the many problems I faced, I spent hours reading Florida statutes and case law to discover remedies and rediscovered my passion for the law and helping people. I always wanted to go to law school and become an attorney. Unfortunately, life got in the way and I placed that goal on the back burner. My personal trials reminded me to go after my dream and affirm I was capable of actually completing it.
Do you feel the fields of education and law share common attributes? Are there lessons from your past career that you hope will inform your work as a lawyer?
Jeré: Yes and no. I think the field of education helped me to be a strong law student. I would study by looking at the material and asking, “How would I explain this to my students?” Doing that allowed me to essentially teach myself the concepts and really retain loads of information. I also think that this helped me to handle the readings and helped me feel comfortable with public speaking.
I was a high school Government teacher so my experience there helped with Constitutional Law. My time in front of a classroom, teaching and disseminating information, definitely helped me with trial practice and currently with trials. I was used to speaking in front of people and communicating effectively before law school, so it definitely helped.
What are your LSAT favorite study tips?
Jeré: My number one tip is to take a diagnostic test at the outset of your studying. Doing this will help you to find out your strengths and weaknesses so you can study purposefully. For example, logic/games were my weakness and reading comprehension was my strength. If I spent too much time doing reading comprehension questions, I would be wasting time. I needed to spend more time on my weaknesses to turn them into strengths.
My second tip is to create a schedule and stick to it. That’s so important for LSAT prep, law school, and bar prep.
How did your family react when you shared the news that you were going to law school?
Jeré: My family was very excited and supportive. My parents witnessed the detour I made away from law school dreams and were ecstatic that I was finally pushing and challenging myself. I was a single mom of three during law school, so my family had to pitch in and help me with my girls. My uncles, aunts, and cousins would take turns picking the girls up from school. My grandmother would watch them when I was in class. My parents were also there with their unwavering support, helping me with my girls, and just being there. The support of family and friends were felt throughout and I’m confident I wouldn’t have made it through without it.
What was the hardest part about going back to school after years of working full time?
Jeré: Balancing my life as a student, teacher, and single mom was intense. I had to create a crazy schedule to keep up with all of my tasks/responsibilities. For example, I would go to school from 9am to 9pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Then I would focus on my online teaching job Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I would be a mom before school and after school. When my girls were home, I would cook dinner, help with homework, and then sleep from 10pm to 4am. I would wake up at 4am and study until 6:30 when it was time to take the girls to school. While on campus, I used the breaks I had in between classes to catch up reading/case briefing. It was intense but it got better over time and today, I know it was completely worth it.
What are your top tips for balancing student life and family life?
Jeré: My 1L year (first semester), I didn’t have a great balance. I used to jokingly say, “I don’t go to this school, I just attend classes.” I didn’t get involved because I was trying to handle everything by myself and it was driving me crazy. I didn’t realize the disservice I was doing to myself until one of my classmates asked me to be in her study group. Suddenly, I had four amazingly intelligent, fun, caring women who understood how I felt and showed me that there is strength in numbers. After that, I got involved, joined SBA, became the graduation chair, and made some amazing connections with some amazing people. Law school is so challenging, but it is bearable when you are surrounded by the right people.
How can law schools change to be more accommodating to students who are parents?
- I know it may be far-fetched, but I can’t begin to explain how amazing it would be if there was a daycare in law school. The high school that I taught at had an affordable daycare for student moms, teachers, and people from the community. It was super helpful for those students because they were able to focus on school and trust that their children were being cared for… that would definitely have been a help.
- If that can’t work, student organizations for parents and non-traditional students can be helpful.
How did you study for the bar? Did you pass the first time you took it?
Jeré: Whew…. Bar prep was intense. I studied from 8am to 8pm. I watched lectures, made thousands of flashcards, wrote practice essays, and did 100 multiple choice questions each day. I was stressed… but I stuck to my schedule and pushed through the feelings of doubt and frustration. Thankfully all my hard work paid off. I passed the bar on my first attempt. God is so Good.
You document your bar exam experiences on your YouTube channel. What prompted you to make this vlog?
Jeré: For starters, it was a way to ease my anxiousness and fears about the results coming out. I was a wreck for weeks and sitting down and expressing my feelings was therapeutic for me. Secondly, pass or fail, I wanted people to know that there is so much that goes into chasing and achieving your dreams. Oftentimes, people see the victory but never see the struggle behind it. I think it’s important to share the struggle, so we are all reminded that nothing worthwhile comes easily.
What advice would you give a career-changer considering law school?
Jeré: Just go for it! Stop making excuses, stop dreaming about, and just go for it. It’s your dream, it’s your goal, it’s your desire, so work for it. No one can do it for you so push towards your goal and make it happen. Surround yourself with support and instill in your mind, that you are already equipped and capable. Tell yourself that you are already victorious and then, take the steps to become victorious.
Do you have questions for Jeré? Questions for us? Do you want to be featured in our next What is Graduate School Really Like? post? Know someone else who you’d love to see featured? Are there questions you’d like us to ask our students in this series? LET US KNOW!
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- What is Law School Like? a student interview series