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.

Lindsey Harris laughs when she talks about her motivations for going to law school: “I’ve always wanted to have a job where I could be a stay-at-home mom and then also work. I thought law was that – it seemed flexible from the outside, because you can do almost anything with it. Now I don’t think it’s all that reasonable to have a ‘real’ law job and be a stay-at-home mom, too.”

Lindsey has known her whole life that she wanted to have a big family. After starting at Harvard University in 2008, taking a year-and-a-half mission trip to Sweden, and graduating from Harvard in 2014 with a degree in Economics, she got married and started law school at Hastings College. Her first child – a son named Nelson, was born in the middle of the Spring Semester finals of her first semester. Because the school needed to enter final grades, she ended up taking three finals in the week after Nelson was born.

“You do what you have to do, right?” she laughs.

After her second year of law school, her husband graduated from dental school and started a residency program in Denver, so Lindsey became a visiting student at DU.

Meanwhile, Lindsey has learned to balance being a mom and being a law student.

“Law school is my extra-curricular; [Nelson] is my mainstay. His sleep time is my study time,” she said. “I’ve had to sacrifice a lot of things I would’ve done in law school, but I’d rather be with him.”

Lindsey further explains that the work load can be challenging to manage while also raising a soon-to-be two-year-old.

“When you have a full-time job, you do your work at your job and come home and you’re done with work for the most part,” she explained. “You don’t go to law school to do work. You go to law school to get more work.”

Still, Lindsey says Nelson makes her excel in law school.

“He’s made me a better student, because I’m not living and breathing the stress of law school,” she said. “He’s a great break, and he also gives me perspective. I come home and realize there are way more important things than how I did on a test. I mean, there’s another human depending on me for survival.”

However, Lindsey says that having a “mom-first” mentality in law school can be very difficult for some to understand. She gives the example of going to Career Services at Hastings and asking for help with finding a flexible, part time job for after she graduated.

“They just could not comprehend that idea!” she said. “I wish there was a society of women who want to be moms first and then dabble in the law.”

“Dabbling in the law” is exactly what Lindsey hopes to do someday. Meanwhile, however, she’ll be focusing her efforts on graduating this spring and taking the bar in July. Then, she’s expecting to welcome her second child shortly thereafter. She plans to focus on being a mom for a while, but keep an eye out for opportunities that would let her work flexibly in law.

“I would love to use my law degree – that’s why I got it!” she said. “Being a mom is my first priority, but if I felt like there was a perfect opportunity, I’d jump on it.”

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’!”

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.

If you go to DU Law, chances are you’ve come across second-year student Kristin Arthur. She is a current Staff Editor of the Denver Law Review and will rise to the Managing Editor position next year; she was an AAP (Academic Achievement Program) leader this year for a first year course in civil procedure last semester; she is a board member of the National Women’s Law Student Organization and a DU representative to the Colorado Women’s Bar Association; and she is also a research assistant for a DU professor. During her first year in law school, she participated in DU’s annual trial competition, the Advocate’s Cup, and earned her Certificate in Basic Legal Research. As if all of that weren’t enough to keep her busy, Kristin has also interned for three different judges, including a stint interning for Justice Brian D. Boatright at the Colorado Supreme Court.

Kristin graduated from high school in Colorado, but went to New York University for college, where she received her degree in Theater Directing in 2006. After graduation, she took a job with a major tech company to pay her bills, and ended up staying with the company for nearly 10 years. She transferred back to Colorado within the company because of family health issues, and while she still enjoyed working for the company, her opportunities for growth were much more limited in Colorado. After several months of not feeling challenged in her job and wanting a more academic experience, she decided to take the February LSAT just to “see how it goes.” Six months later, she started law classes at DU.

Kristin says she feels that her experience in the “real world” has helped her immensely in law school.

“Being an adult in law school – understanding what it takes to work a full-time, ‘big girl’ job is incredibly helpful,” she said, citing her ability to work in a group and be accountable as outcomes of that understanding. “Actually, when I started law school, I treated it like a full-time job and I would stay at school from 8am to 6pm every day.”

Kristin also points to her job experience in describing what she calls the “soft skills” she believes people need to succeed in the legal community.

“When you handle clients, you have to help them not only file suit, but also address the underlying emotion of their situation,” she said. “Having the ability to talk to people, and understand what people want – not just logistically, but emotionally as well – is so important.”

Although both of Kristin’s parents were lawyers (“I guess that makes me genetically well-suited for this,” she laughed), Kristin largely credits her work experience for her success in law school.

“There’s a level of humility you gain by being in the real world that allows you to take away some of the arrogance of the ‘I know everything’ mindset that you accumulate by the time you graduate college,” she explained. “Coming into law school, you have to assume you don’t know everything, and I think it’s easier for older people to do that.”

As might be expected from her plethora of extracurriculars, Kristin has big plans for after she graduates law school. She is currently applying for a clerkship with the Colorado Supreme Court, and hopes to clerk with the Tenth Circuit as well. Then she hopes to return to Davis Graham & Stubbs, the firm where she will intern this summer, before eventually becoming an appellate judge.

Meanwhile, Kristin is focused on enjoying and excelling in what’s left of law school.

“I really like law school; it’s such a unique educational experience. I just find everything interesting,” she said. “I just try to abide by my own standards, and not get distracted by other people’s. It turns out my standards tend to be pretty high.”

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.

Lesley Gray always wanted to be a lawyer. But when it was time for college, her dad urged her to attend Florida Institute of Technology because he worked there and she could attend with her tuition waived. Florida Institute of Technology does not train lawyers; it trains engineers. So, in 1979, Lesley earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, which she followed with a Masters degree in Computer Science in 1988. She then proceeded to do the sensible thing and work in flight simulation engineering for 34 years.

Along the way, she met her now-husband, an electrical engineer, and they had a daughter, who is currently finishing her Ph.D. in molecular biology and biochemistry, and a son, who recently graduated from Westpoint Academy and is now stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma as a Field Artillery Second Lieutenant. Lesley was the model of an active parent and involved volunteer: she has been a Boy Scout leader since 2004, she helped lead band boosters while her kids were in high school, she was president of the Parent Teacher Association for three years, and she was president of the Westpoint Parent’s Club of Colorado during 2014 and 2015.

Now that she has an empty nest and has earned her retirement, you’d think Lesley would want to take some well-deserved time off.

What is she doing instead? Going to law school.

“I love law school, but I came to law school to have fun,” she laughed. “I have no problem with the Socratic method. [Professors] can’t intimidate me, because I’m not afraid of looking stupid.”

Lesley does admit that the law school culture took some getting used to, especially when she experienced firsthand some of the undermining that students can engage in to attempt to boost their grades. She referenced the challenging job market as fostering the extremely competitive law school environment.

“In engineering, you have several job offers when you graduate, which creates a collaborative environment,” she said as a comparison. “Luckily, I don’t have to get a job. I’ll just be happy to graduate.”

In keeping with her history of involvement, Lesley isn’t just going to law school; she’s taking law school by storm. She has been a student attorney (and tech support…and t-shirt designer) on three trips with DU’s Tribal Wills Program, which is a program that brings estate planning to low-income tribal communities; she is a staff editor with DU Law’s Transportation Law Journal; and currently, she is a part of the Veteran’s Advocacy Project, a program that pairs DU law students with veterans to help with legal issues related to housing, health care, and income. Lesley enjoys the Veteran’s clinic so much that she plans to continue to work with the clinic one day per week after she graduates and passes the bar exam.

“I’ve been a volunteer my whole life,” she said. “As long as my brain holds up, I want to give back to my community. I went to law school to help people, even if that means I just make a difference for one person.”