By: Kristin Arriaga
When I was gearing up to begin law school, I had a plan. At the time, I was working full time, 9 to 5, and I commuted an additional 3 hours. I was gone from home 11 hours a day. My three children were used to me being focused on my career and out of the house. I was going to treat law school like my job; spend the same amount of time, physically, at the law school as I did when I was working in my career. Well, you know what they say about best-laid plans.
I entered law school in the fall of 2020. Zoom College of Law is what the class of 2023 had endearingly named their first year of law school. But to describe my first year of law school as Zoom College of Law would be an understatement. Due to the pandemic, daycare was limited, and I was forced to attend law school while my children also attended school remotely. Civil Procedure was the start of my day. I would log in, turn my camera off, and listen in the background while I helped my children, whether it be by logging into class, making them a snack, or cleaning up the spill they made before it reached their Chromebook. That is how it was every day, all day during my entire first year of law school.
That first year was a blur and my grades showed it. On paper, I looked like I was struggling but what many wouldn’t know was that it wasn’t with the material – it was with the circumstances. I received less-than-stellar grades, but I passed. Unlike many others, I survived my first year of law school while keeping my scholarship and was able to go into my second year, in person, ready to keep chugging along. In my second year, knowing that I understood the material, I was able to make the dean’s list in both semesters and I am hoping to graduate cum laude. I relate my first-year grades to a civil litigation case where the facts are not in your client’s favor; they are going to “lose,” but it’s about getting them the best possible outcome. That is what I did in my first year of law school. I received the best possible outcome, considering the circumstances.
I share this experience with you because I am proud of the journey I and many others who were forced to attend Zoom College of Law have weathered. This journey has created a new perspective that has provided me with the opportunity to learn about myself and my work ethic. I am excited to see what the future holds for me and am grateful for my unique law school experience, as I truly believe it has helped prepare me to meet whatever challenges this career may throw my way.
Ms. Arriaga is a 3L at NIU College of Law. She was born and raised in Chicago, IL. She received her Bachelor of Arts with a Concentration in Corporate PR from Columbia College Chicago. Ms. Arriaga previously worked as a technical writer for a major startup company. She is actively involved in organizations at NIU, within her fraternity Phi Alpha Delta, and within the DeKalb community. Ms. Arriaga plans to practice in Chicago and the surrounding areas and has an interest in insurance litigation and family law. She is available via email, firstname.lastname@example.org or Z1909645@students.niu.edu.
This article was originally published in the WBAI Fall 2022 Newsletter on page 32.