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  • Writer's pictureKindred Spirits Photography

Life with Kids as a Law Student

About a year ago I saw a photoshoot from Storyville Photography called "Real Men Wear Babies & Diaper Bags". I absolutely loved what it captured, men being dads. Instantly, I wanted to celebrate the fathers in my life, and I especially thought of our close circle of friends here at school. Thus, almost one year later, this photoshoot came to fruition with some of our closest friends here at law school. The purpose of this was to capture some photos to remember being a graduate student and a parent at some of the places that are memorable around campus.

We also have had such a positive experience as a family, that I wanted to share to encourage the strength and capabilities you have as a family.

My husband and I decided to pursue him going back to school exactly 4 years ago. We had no idea what he would do, but knew that it was a necessity for our growing family. After exploring several options, we found what was going to be the ideal fit for him, law school. The plan evolved from him going to night school while continuing to work at his non-profit job, to me working full time while he went to an in-state school, to finally realizing we were going all in and he was going to Harvard Law School.

It was a little overwhelming how many people felt the need to tell us how difficult moving, graduate school, and, his new profession were going to be with children in tow. We had prayed intensely for over a year though, and felt at peace that this is what God was calling us to do. So RJ started law school with a wife, and a 4 & 2 yr old, and to our immense relief, we quickly found we were not alone. In fact, we realized some of the most impressive people we met at school had families and children.

The story of husbands and fathers being successful in graduate school was not the story that got told though, children and families are often looked at as an inconvenience to accomplishing your career and academic goals. So I wanted to tell our story here at school, and a few of our friends' stories as well, to encourage fellow families, and to celebrate our children.

I'd like to introduce you to our friends who agreed to be in this photoshoot, and I'm going to detail a bit of what they have been involved in while being a parenting student. They are all 3L's, so seniors graduating in May with their JD's.

Ladies first, of course. Isabel Marin is mother to Alexander, who was 3months old when she started law school. She has been involved in:

- Harvard Law Review- Articles Chair & Editor

- Journal of Law and Public Policy - Editor

- Federalist Society- Member

- Catholic Law Students Association -Social Chair and Music Director

- Armed Forces Association- Vice President of Events

- Research Assistant for Prof Goldsmith & Prof Hay

- Teaching Assistant for Prof Fallon's Undergraduate Constitutional Law Class

- Private Law Fellow 2019-20

-Legal Intern, U.S. Attorney's Office (Boston, MA)

-Summer Associate, Goodwin Procter (Boston, MA)

Brian Kulp is father of Heidi, who was born at the beginning of his 3L year and is almost 6 months old. He has been involved in:

- Ames competition semi finalist

-Journal of Law & Public Policy- Notes Editor and Executive Editor

-Federalist Society - Vice President of Academic Affairs and Clerkship Director

-Journal of Law and Technology - Content Editor

-Harvard Law Entrepreneurship Project- Team Leader

-Summer associate at Morrison Foerster; Kirkland & Ellis; and Kellogg Hansen

-Externship with Judge Dabney Friedrich (DDC)

-Christian Fellowship- Member

- He has also served as a Teaching Assistant an RA

Dallin Earl started his 1L year with his 2 year old son Samuel, and 6mo old son David. His son Stephen was born during finals week at the end of his 2L year and is almost 10 months old now. Dallin has been involved in.

- The Recording Artists Project - President, Events Director, Communications Director, Team Leader

- Journal of Law and Public Policy - Office Manager - Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law - Editor, Highlights Contributor

- Open Inquiry - Co-founder, Chair

- Harvard Law Couples & Families Association - Member - Harvard Law Latter-day Saints - Treasurer

- Covington & Burling LLP (New York City) - Summer Associate

- United States Copyright Office (D.C.) - Law Clerk

- Ziffren Brittenham LLP (Los Angeles)- Law Clerk

Joe Kurtenbach is father to Charlotte, who was born in the summer after his 2L year, and is 8mos old. As a dual degree student with Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School, Joe has been involved in,

- Harvard Law Review - Bluebook Business Chair & Editor

- Federalist Society - Treasurer

- Harvard Association for Law and Business - Private Equity Chair

- Harvard and MIT Cooperative Society - Board Member, Co-Chair of the Student Advisory Committee

- Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School - Black Family Fellow

- The Harbus Foundation - Investing Committee Member

- Journal of Law and Public Policy - Editor

- Armed Forces Association - Member

- Catholic Law Students Association - Member

Finally, this is my husband RJ, and our children. Arabella was 4, and Theodore was 2 when he started law school, James was born during December finals of 2L year, and is 15months, Baby #4 (not pictured, and affectionately called Dumpling) is 12 weeks in utero, and due October 2nd. RJ has been involved in

- Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy - Deputy Editor-In-Chief, Communications Editor, Technology Manager & Editor

- Harvard Law Review - Online Chair & Editor

- Harvard Federalist Society - Vice President of Communications

- Catholic Law Students Association - Member

- Research Assistant for Prof Goldsmith

- Harvard Law Couples & Families Association - Member

- Kirkland & Ellis (D.C.) - Summer Associate

- Foley & Lardner (Detroit) - Summer Associate

So this is part of our community of friends. We have been blessed to have a network of friends from day one out here in Boston. I think we literally had lunch with Isabel the first full day we were here in Cambridge of 1L. I want to just share a little more of what it's been like having a family at graduate school, what our experience has been.

Having kids on campus draws lots of attention, some kind smiles, some not so much. Walking through campus with our strollers, scooters, noise, and tons of baggage has been a part of our experiences from the beginning. I love that the kids will have these memories of riding their scooters through the hallways of WCC, sitting in the back row of a classroom for a lunch talk or Mass, and dodging the tour groups through Harvard Yard on our way to the library every week.

Being a parenting student doesn't mean that they're hanging out at the school with their kids all the time. We often have enjoyed meeting up for lunch, stopping by to say hi, and attending occasional lectures and events on campus, so while this photo isn't an everyday occurrence, we definitely enjoy it!

I want to introduce the spouses of these amazing students. From left to right (naming just spouses) Katie, Brianna, Tom, Vaughn, & Sandy. There's just not enough time and space to detail all of what these partners do, there have been multiple dual student families as the partner of the law student pursues their graduate degree as well, moms who are putting careers on hold to spend time with children, and so many sacrifices all around for the families.

Going to graduate school with children is not the easiest, sacrifices have to be made all around, but it's been so worth it.

The community you can form with fellow students who are also juggling families, children, jobs, school, is such a unique and close-knit bond.

We don't do family study sessions, (what a terrifying thought) but we do all hang out together frequently. Not in a space this large, usually we're stuffed in someone's 700sq ft apartment with 10 kids running and crawling around, lively debates, and lots of food.

I can testify though that this is a frequent occurrence for the parents, holding a kid and trying to read a book. I have a sweet photo of James when he was like 3 days old snuggled on RJ's chest while he was studying for his Fed Courts exam. One of our friends said how he sits on an exercise ball holding his newborn son while studying. While it's obviously not the most effective study method, they have obviously learned to adapt and use whatever means necessary to get stuff done.

Really though, we're all just parents, trying to survive till bedtime, and praying it's a long time till wakeup.

Our experience isn't unique, there are so many people who juggle families and children in college and graduate school, but it's one that isn't talked about frequently, or at least in a pleasant light.

I'm incredibly grateful for the ways we have grown as a family, and being able to see my husband grow as he juggled all these responsibilities, spending time with the kids, making sure I had the time and space I needed to pursue my own passions and friendships as well, and grow in his faith.

Being able to watch some of our closest friends start their parenting journeys, and grow in their parenthood, has also been a rich and rewarding experience. Knowing that we all didn't just "survive" grad school, but enjoyed it, and made the most of it has been so fulfilling.

I hope that you have enjoyed this glimpse into what it's been like as a student family at HLS, how you can continue living your life, and how our children have been such a blessing in our lives!

In memory of June

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Mar 19, 2020

Curtis feels that he actually had an advantage having a family, because he had a support system that kept him out of the intense emotions happening on campus, and allowed him to realize the bigger picture that family was the most important thing and to not get caught up in the minutiae. Sure he had to organize well and schedule in family time, but everyone has to schedule down time or they WILL burn out. Thank you so much for sharing your talents! Family needs to be looked at as a positive, not a ball and chain that holds people back. More people sharing their positive experiences will help others feel it is doable!


Mar 19, 2020

Thank you so much for sharing!! I absolutely love this! My husband is in law school and we are considering starting to try to have a child in the near future so this was just beautiful to read <3

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