Sunday, December 24, 2006

He did it!

After nine bad nights in a row, my 5 month-old finally slept through the night again. He fell asleep at 10:30 and didn't wake up until 7am. Maybe it was his Christmas present to us. Of course in a couple days he and I are going to fly across the country to visit relatives, so everything will probably get screwed up again, but for now I am feeling pretty well rested.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Evaluating Loan Repayment Assistance Programs

Since I am interested in working in public interest law, one of my criteria for choosing among schools will be their loan repayment assistance programs (LRAP). Loan Repayment Assistance Programs, as their name implies, help you pay off the loans you incur while in law school. With a good LRAP your loans may be entirely paid off without you having to pay a single cent. However, not all LRAPs are created equal. Here are some of the factors that you need to look at in LRAPs:

Amount of Benefit: Most schools I have looked at will give you up to the amount of your loan payments on a 10-year repayment plan, so it is typically to your benefit to put your loan a 10-year repayment schedule to get the maximum benefit. However, some schools have a cap on the amount of benefit you can receive, so be sure to check before you make any changes.

Length of Benefit: How long after you graduate you can receive the benefit, and/or for how many years you can receive the benefit. Ten is the most I have seen, since most programs assume a ten-year repayment schedule. Some programs allow you to take a deferment or leave of absence without affecting your eligibility.

Eligible Employment: Typically, to be eligible for a LRAP you must be working in a law-related job in public service. However, definitions of public service vary, so make sure you know what kinds of jobs qualify, and, when you are looking for a job, you may want to double-check with your school to make sure they will accept a job you are considering before you accept the offer. Clerking typically does not count as eligible employment, but most programs will cover you for a one-year clerkship as long as you go into an eligible job right after.

Income: Most LRAPs have a base income, under which you receive the full benefit, and an income cap, above which you will not receive any benefit. Some schools adjust the base and cap based on the actual salaries of their graduates in each graduating class, while others have a single income cap that applies to all graduates. In some cases the income base can be unrealistically low (like $25,000), limiting the usefulness of the benefit. Significant assets may also limit your benefit or disqualify you from receiving any benefit.

Loan Forgiveness: Typically the money you receive from a LRAP is in the form of a loan which can be forgiven if you continue to work in public service. You may need to work as long as five or seven years in public service before your loans will be forgiven, so, if you work in public service and receive loan repayment assistance for three years and then take a job outside of public service, you may need to repay the money you received.

In addition to school LRAPs, some states also offer LRAPs. For more information on LRAPs see the ABA LRAP page.

Friday, December 22, 2006

More on my sleep obsession

I used to have a baby who slept through the night (and by "slept through the night" I mean 8-10 hours in a row without waking up). I don't know what happened to him. Looking back over my log book I see that he actually was never sleeping through the night every night for more than a few nights in a row. He still did have bad nights sprinkled in with the good, but this last week has been all bad. In the week starting the eighth he slept 8+ hours in four out of seven nights, but in this last week he hasn't done it once.

On the night of the 15th he went to sleep at 10:30 pm, woke up at 4 and didn't go back to sleep until 5:30, then slept until 8. The next night he went to sleep at 10pm woke up at midnight, didn't go back to sleep until 1:45 and slept until 8:45. The night of the 17th he went to bed just before 9pm, woke up briefly at 9:30, then slept until 5:15, and then back to sleep from 6 until 9:15. The night of the 18th he fell asleep at 9pm, woke up briefly at 9:30, again briefly at 12:30 and then for good at 5:30. I could go on, but this is probably not interesting to anyone but me. As I've mentioned before, I am obsessed with sleep.

I was thinking of creating a visual representation of my son's sleep by creating an image where each pixel represented five or fifteen minutes -- thinking of a square image as a grid with time across the top and days down the side -- and then coloring the pixel black if we was sleeping during that time and leaving it white if he was awake. I wonder what that would look like.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

No such things as a free ride?

Frugal Law Student has a post that relates to the question I asked in my first post: is it better to go to a lower ranked school with a large scholarship or a higher ranked school without a scholarship? I knew that if I went to a lower ranked school that I would need a higher GPA to have good job prospects, but FLS points out that many of the lower ranked schools have a mean first year curve, and that if the scholarship is dependant on maintaining a certain GPA you may lose it after the first year, leaving you with poor job prospects and large debt. This just strengthens my initial inclination to go to a higher-ranked school even if I do have to pay most of the tuition myself (of course I am still hoping for a scholarship at my number one or two school!).

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Admitted Students Website

I now have access to the admitted student's website at the one school to which I have been admitted so far. I can sign up for the Admitted Student Reception; I can apply for Financial Aid (not yet); I can look at some of the paperwork I will need to submit if I decide to attend (immunization records, official transcript, health insurance); I can read the FAQ. But, the best part is they have a summer reading list! It is intended for my enjoyment, not mandatory, and it is long (almost 70 books), and I don't even think that I will be going to this school, but I still want to read as many of the books on it as I can (how much I will be able to read while taking care of a baby with a very irregular sleeping schedule is an open question -- however, the baby has actually been taking the occasional two-hour nap lately, making reading more of a possibility). I am excited to actually be doing something related to law school -- it is starting to feel a little bit real that I will actually be going to law school next year. I already ordered a dozen of them from Of course, if I get accepted to my number one or two school and they have a reading list too, then that will take priority. As it gets closer to school starting I will probably do some more serious reading to prepare for school. I know a lot of people say not to try to prepare for law school, but I remember things better if I have been exposed to them before. So, if I read a book on Contracts this summer, when I take the class it will stick better. Anyway, I may post book reviews as I read -- more for my own benefit than anything else, since having to write about the book will help me remember it better.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Only Constant is Change

It is natural for humans to look for patterns, but I should know better by now. My four-month-old's sleeping habits do not fit a neat pattern. Still, when he does something two nights in a row I assume he will continue to do it. So, if he goes to bed at nine two nights in a row I am frustrated when I can't get him to bed at nine on the third night. Or, if he is up until two in the morning two nights in a row, on the third day I start to wonder whether I am really cut out to be a parent.

So, what I said a couple weeks ago about my son rolling over and going to sleep ceased to be true almost immediately after I typed it. He doesn't do that much anymore. What is working sometimes lately is sshh-ing him to sleep. We will put him in his crib and when he starts to fuss we make rhythmic shhh-ing noises. This will sometimes calm him down and he will fall asleep. I prefer a long "shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh", then a pause for breath and repeat. Hubby does a "shh, shh, shh" followed by pause and repeat. I don't know if our son has a preference. Anyway, this is nice because it saves our arms wearing out from holding him. Of course, I have to keep in mind that it may not work tomorrow.

Monday, December 11, 2006


My last application is done. I finally finished the essays that I should have had done a long time ago and sent in my last application. Hubby was a big part of my getting them done finally. He helped me brainstorm ideas, gave me many baby-free hours in which to write, and proofread. The next step in this whole process will be financial aid applications, but those can't be done until January at the earliest.So, now I can focus on the holidays... Christmas shopping is already done (without stepping foot in a mall), but christmas cards need to be addressed and presents need to be wrapped -- activities I much prefer over writing personal essays. I can also get back to updating this blog with a little more regularity. Yay!