This post is part of a series of short posts to introduce you to some of the amazing women I go to school with at DU Law.
“I’ve always been good at juggling things in my life,” says Amy Conley, a 46-year-old student at DU Law.
It’s a good thing, too, because with five kids (ages 23, 20, 18, 16, and 11) and a full-time job at TeleTech, law school is just one more thing that Amy deals with on a daily basis.
After growing up in a ranching family in Chamberland, South Dakota, Amy graduated with her bachelor’s degree in English from Morehead State in 1992. She thought about law school then, and moved to Denver to attend a training program for paralegals. She finished the program, started working at DISH in 1994, and put the idea of going to law school on the backburner for a few years. Then, she made two goals that she wanted to accomplish before age 40; she wanted to run a half triathlon, and she wanted to take the LSAT.
Two weeks before she was supposed to run the half triathlon, she started having trouble breathing. Doctors told her it was just allergies. A week after she ran the race, she figured out she was pregnant. The LSAT goal was put on the backburner again.
Her goal of going to law school never left her mind, however, and when her son was 6 years old, after encouragement and an offer to help pay for a J.D. from DISH, she again decided to take the LSAT.
The morning she was supposed to sit for the test, there was a giant snowstorm. Amy barely made it to the test, took it anyway, received what she describes as “average” scores, and turned in her application to DU, where she hoped to enroll in the evening program. She was waitlisted, and thought, “maybe next year!”
Then, a week before classes were supposed to start, she found out she had been accepted into the program. She registered on a Thursday, bought her books that Friday, and started classes the following Monday.
That was four years ago, and Amy is still making her way through the program, masterfully juggling the plethora of demands on her time.
Two semesters into her J.D. program, she got an offer from TeleTech and moved there from DISH. She has since been moving up the ladder in that company, and has built strong relationships with the TeleTech general counsel. She hopes to stay there after graduating from law school, which she plans to do this December.
Amy says that coming back to school has not been without its challenges.
“I was out of school for over twenty years, so memorizing stuff is frustrating,” she said. “I tell my kids that I’m not the example of a good student. I tell them they need to do better than I do; do what I say, not as I do. I just keep coming, do the minimum I can, and still maintain my life.”
Amy points to her practical experience in her jobs throughout the years, saying that while it doesn’t replace going to law school, it helps her put law school into context.
“Often it seems like students and professors [in law school] lose sight of reality; it’s the ivory tower concept,” she explains. “I love to learn and read, but I would love law school more if it weren’t so much about the one test at the end of the semester.”
She appreciates professors who are also practitioners, and says it’s important to help younger students learn about the practical implications of their ideas in the law.
“Kids are quick to jump on ideas without thinking them through – it can be frustrating!” she said. “But I have young kids and you have to let them test the norms and see what happens; Professors could just do a better job of reigning in the reality.”
Meanwhile, Amy just keeps coming to classes, prioritizing her commitments, and, as she says, “reading at track meets.”
“I want to stay married and employed, have a good relationship with my kids, and still have friendships when I graduate,” she says. “I have to give it my best and then say, ‘that’s all I’ve got’!”