Engagements and Law School: Do They Mix?

[ Makenzie Way, 3L at the University of Pennsylvania ]

My law school best friend just got engaged (woohoo) and it got me thinking about what it must be like to be engaged as a law student – seems like it would be stressful, no?

Thankfully for us, engagements seem to have been a popular trend at my law school and within my soon-to-be firm, so I asked around to get the inside scoop for any of you contemplating a law school engagement. Here were the top five takeaways:

1. Never say never. Many people enter law school single, or in a relationship and swear they won’t get engaged or married until they are at least a few years into practice, and that makes sense. But, if you find the right person and you are emotionally ready to take that next step, try not to let the fact that you’re a law student stop you from being happy.

2. Be open and upfront. While you shouldn’t avoid getting engaged simply because you’re a law student, if you end up in a serious relationship during law school (or really at any point in your life), you should be straightforward about your ideal timeline so your partner knows your expectations – this is especially important when your partner is not and has never been, a grad student.

3. Set realistic timelines. Law school is busy; studying for the bar is busy, and your first few years working are insane. Therefore, you should expect your engagement to last a bit longer than the typical engagement, or be prepared to shell out some money to hire a professional planner.

4. Get help! It’s tough trying to do everything on your own when you’re saddled with so much work already. Hiring a professional wedding planner is a godsend, but family and friends can also be useful resources when money is tight!

5. Don’t cut your friends. Getting engaged in law school can be exciting and you may have a tendency to dive headfirst into all things wedding related, but try not to let this separate you from your law school crew. It’s still important for you to engage in legal networking, make friends, and be active on campus.

The consensus amongst those I talked to is that getting engaged (or married) in law school, contrary to what some believe, really isn’t that big of a deal. Like any working professional or student, you’ll need to maintain a balance to ensure you stay on track, but otherwise, everyone seemed to agree that they wouldn’t have wanted to wait – even those who swore they wouldn’t get engaged until 2-3 years into practice.