Having just returned to my tame everyday life from sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida- home of the chaos known as “Spring Break”- I can tell you that just about everything but “taking a break” was going on down there. Now, let me be clear: I was in South Florida for the wholesome purpose of spending good, clean, quality time with my family. However, while cruising (or, more appropriately, sitting in monster traffic next to) Fort Lauderdale Beach, I witnessed all manner of hedonistic recreation, from contests pitting Breakers’ binging and baring skills to shamefully reckless under-applications of sunscreen.
But hey, everybody needs a break, including those of us in law school (or pursuit thereof) and the legal field. In fact, at the risk of sounding selfish, you and I may need a breather even more than your average professional or student. You already know how time-consuming and stressful LSAT prep and law school admissions can be, but you may not have heard that attorneys sustain twice to three times the average rate of depression; unfortunately, the same goes for alcoholism and other substance abuse. Some experts posit that the same characteristics that can spell success for lawyers (aggression, perfectionism, and detached rationalism, for example) are socially and emotionally isolating, leading to depression and its potentially tragic consequences
So does this mean that attorneys, law school students, and wannabes should chuck the whole endeavor, move to Miami, and open up a tanning salon/ t-shirt shop? Well, who am I to tell you not to follow your heart? But if your heart lies with the law- its risks, rewards, and real potential to make a difference- there’s no need for alarm, just care… specifically, taking care of yourself! As draining as the legal field and law school can be, the answer isn’t to work/study/live and breathe the law until you drop. Many brilliant legal minds still fail to see the value in vacation, even if it’s just a getaway from the glare of the laptop. Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing like a libation-fueled limbo contest to get you feeling loose. But you can recharge your internal battery from your own zip code by enjoying activities that make you happy and human. Family, friends, foosball… take time for whatever makes your day a little sunnier (no SPF required).
Savvy students recognize the added value of relaxation: you’ll be at your best when you’re balanced, not overtaxed. You-time is not an indulgence but an investment in your productivity and positivity. In fact, the Kaplan method of LSAT preparation commands (well, actually, asks nicely) test takers to fit personal priorities into their study schedules and to refrain from studying at all for 24 hours before Test Day. That time is for enjoying, feeling good: good about the work you’ve done and good about the accomplishments that lie ahead… just don’t miss your return flight!