Law student Czara Venegas and family
Law school moms share their stories and advice.
“I remember sitting in the library one day Googling ‘having a baby in law school’ and ‘mothers in law school.’ The search results came up close to nothing, and I started to think the idea was impossible. I realize now that it’s not that there weren’t mothers in law school—they were just taking care of a million other things and didn’t have time to blog about it!” —Czara Venegas ’18
Law school is hard. Being a mother is really hard. Then there’s doing both at the same time…
The women below managed raising children and being in law school with grace, intelligence, and sheer willpower. After years of challenges and rewards, emotional highs and lows, all three graduated from New England Law | Boston in May 2018.
Read their Q&A below to learn about their experiences as both law students and mothers.
Law school moms
Alissa Koenig '18
Hometown: Mishicot, Wisconsin
Undergraduate degree: BA in Legal Studies, University of West Florida
Children: Julia, age 17; Kohl, age 14; Jocelyn, age 2—and #4 due in October!
Lissette Natalie Trujillo '18
Hometown: Clifton, New Jersey
Undergraduate degree: BS in Criminal Justice, Political Science, and Psychology (triple major), Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
Children: Elvin, age 4; Natalie, age 3 weeks
Czara Venegas '18
Hometown: San Diego, California
Undergraduate degree: BA in Political Science with a minor in Legal Studies, University of Texas at San Antonio Honors College
Children: Ellize, age 3
What led you to law school?
Alissa Koenig: I had worked as a paralegal for a few years and loved the legal field. I had gone back and forth about law school, but knew if I didn’t do it I would always regret it. I am so glad I decided to go!
Lissette Natalie Trujillo: At a young age I realized I wanted to become an attorney and make a positive impact on my community. I knew I would attend law school, but sometimes life changes your plans. In my case, I became a single mother. I had to make a choice: let go of my dream of becoming a lawyer or pursue it. Well, I chose the latter.
But I never forget where I came from and who helped me get to this point. I have been blessed with family, friends, and mentors who supported me. When I doubted myself, they were there to push me forward. In particular, my mother instilled in me the power of perseverance, and without that I would not be days away from earning my JD. One of my mentors, Lisa M. Golub-Gonzalez, believed in me before and after I had my son. She's a federal prosecutor, an immigration trial attorney, and a New England Law alumna, Class of 1991. She led me to New England Law, an institution that gave me all the tools necessary to take full advantage of the opportunities it offered. And then there’s my son; my law school dream would not have come true without him as my #1 motivator.
Czara Venegas: I fell in love with the law-making process while working as a legislative aide and then as a public policy analyst for a state government—but it could be very frustrating at times, especially seeing crucial programs on the chopping block. It reminded me of the helplessness I would sometimes feel when I worked for AmeriCorps after undergrad, where I co-facilitated a program that helped deter impoverished high school students from gang association and drug-use. I just wanted to do more to help people, but I wasn’t sure how.
One particularly frustrating day, I realized I could either sit around, enabling the inequities I kept seeing, or fight for a change. I applied to law school that night.
How has motherhood affected your law school experience?
AK: Being a mother while in law school has really made me balance my priorities. I value time so much more now than I ever did; you cannot afford to waste it—although a little down time is necessary for sanity’s sake! But, for me, keeping a busy schedule has actually kept me on track with my studies and being organized. Or at least as organized as I could be!
LNT: Law school and motherhood are each challenging on their own. Even so, being a mother in law school empowered me and made me realize that even what might seem impossible is possible with the right mindset. Being a mom has been my biggest blessing, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. In law school it simply changes your priorities and how you tackle life.
You become an expert at time management and multitasking, for starters. And you’re more in tune with finding the best way of doing things. You figure what should take precedence when you want to participate in clinics or extracurricular activities, select classes, meet with professors, and seek mentorship.
You have no time to waste, so you become a woman on a mission. You plan ahead and execute, because any time wasted is time you could have spent with your child.
CV: I had a unique experience, because I had to take time off after my 1L year to have my daughter. When I finally returned after two years, I could really tell the difference in my study habits from 1L—when I was alone with zero responsibilities—versus 2L when I had to acclimate to studying, work, and balancing my roles as law student and mother.
I ran on very little sleep throughout law school. I learned to be really creative with studying and reading literally any time I could get a free moment. But most of my studying happened after my daughter went to bed. Being a student-mom also taught me the importance of prioritization and keeping laser-focused. I scheduled everything: school, work, student organizations, gym, errands, you name it. And I would get as much done as possible while my daughter was in daycare.
Every moment away from my daughter had to be purposeful. If I was taking time away from raising her, it had to be for a damn good reason.
What’s your advice for mothers in or considering law school?
AK: There will be tears and breakdowns, but if you really want it, you can do it. A good support system is necessary. Whether it be your significant other, family, or friends, you need people who are there to help and encourage you.
There will be times you feel like you should give up because you feel like a bad mom, a bad student, or both, but don’t! Your kids, classmates, and professors will see how hard you work and will admire you for it. Remember why you made this choice and keep that reasoning at your core. As a law school mom, you are not alone in your journey. Many successful moms have come before you and many will come after; be proud to be among those strong women.
LNT: If you’re considering law school, my advice is to disregard the naysayers. I truly believe that being a mom in law school is not a burden but a blessing. The experience will make you stronger than you ever could have imagined.
If you’re already in law school, do not give up, even if you’re struggling, because I can assure you it will get better. Once you reach the finish line, you will be overcome with joy, not just because attending law school will help you serve your purpose—but because your children will reap the benefits of the choices you made.
CV: Leave your pride at the door and ask for help. I brought my daughter to class once when she was really sick, and my classmates were a huge help and my professor was supportive! Everyone wants to see you succeed, but they won’t know you’re struggling unless you tell them.
Learn to make time for yourself too, even if it’s a few minutes. I made sure to schedule my classes so I could fit in a 30-minute run before I picked my daughter up from daycare. Those runs were so precious to me, and they really helped me recharge.
Finally, be kind to yourself. There will be times when you feel like you can’t do it all—and that’s because you can’t. You have to come to terms early on that you will never be the mom who goes to every school event, the wife who cooks dinner every night, or the law student who reads every single page of the holding. That’s okay! You’re trying your very best, and that is good enough. Remind yourself daily that you have accomplished and overcome so much already. Law school is hard enough without the mom-guilt.
What do you hope to do with your law degree?
AK: With my concentration in intellectual property, I hope to have a career in that area of law.
LNT: I believe in giving back and helping others, just like so many people within and outside the New England Law community helped me. My law degree is not only about becoming a practicing attorney but about helping others in their search for justice.
CV: I’d love to work on employee-rights issues. I started working six months after giving birth, and I was fortunate to have a supportive boss, but that’s not the case for many parents. That really drives me. Employees need strong advocates, and employers need guidance on how to treat them better. After a couple years of practicing, I would love to run for city council or focus my legal career on the legislative, public policy side.
We’re proud of all of the student mothers at New England Law, and they follow in the footsteps of incredible alumnae dating back to our founding as the first and only law school exclusively for women.
If you're a mother interested in going to law school, take a look at our Part-Time JD Program for Parents and Caregivers. No other law degree program is quite like it!