Should You Room with Another Law Student?

Aug 30, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Above the Law recently shared a typical “awful roommate” tale. What made this one different than the rest? When it came to eating the other’s food, blaring loud music while doing high-impact aerobics in the living room, and leaving sweaty workout wear strewn about the apartment, the author was not the victim, but the perpetrator.

And while the article was intended as a reflection on living with addiction in and after law school, it also sounds a very loud alarm bell for law students contemplating the ages old question: to roommate or not to roommate? Here’s a closer look at some pros and cons of the law school roommate quandary.

 

The Pros of Rooming with Other Law Students

Most law schools offer a variety of on and off campus housing options, as well as formal and informal roommate matching programs. Taking advantage of the opportunity to live with another law student can have several benefits, including the following:

1. It will help you keep living costs low.

This is perhaps the most obvious reason to get a roommate. Law school is expensive. Living with other people is one of the easiest ways to cut down on costs. Just be sure to carefully vet roommate candidates, including reference checks. Even if someone seems like the perfect fit, you never know what skeletons may be lurking in the closet.

2.You’ll have more options.

Unless you’re independently wealthy, you’ll probably be living on a strict budget while in law school. If you’re trying to keep housing costs low by living on your own -- particularly if proximity to campus is a priority for you -- your options may be slim. Conversely, willingness to share housing with others can open up new and better possibilities across everything from location to parking.

3. Your roommates will understand your workload.

Can anyone really understand the law school experience if they haven’t lived through it themselves? Opting to live with another roommate means you’ll automatically have something in common. From sharing the same schedule and assignments to having a built-in study buddy, developing camaraderie with your fellow law student roommate can help you be more happy and successful while in law school. Not to mention that plenty of law school roommates have turned into lifelong friends.

 

The Pros of Rooming Alone

While there’s no denying that living with another law student has its upsides, there are also benefits to living on your own, including the following:

1. It will give you a break from law school.

Law school is intense and all-encompassing. While some students appreciate having a friend with whom to commiserate after a long day on campus, others simply need a break. Living with another law student can make you feel like your life is all law school all the time. Whether you’re craving quiet time or simply looking for conversation about anything but law studies, avoiding a law student roommate can help you take a breather.

2. You’ll avoid potentially awkward (and downright bad) situations.

Not all roommate arrangements go as far south as the one detailed by Above the Law. That said, just Google “bad roommates” to turn up pages and pages of search results packed with people sharing their worst roommate woes.

And while having a horror story for a roommate is bad enough, the situations can quickly go from bad to worse when your roommate is also your classmate. (You may have heard the less-than-charming idiom, “Don’t *** where you eat.”  While this may more commonly apply to personal and professional relationships, the concept applies to the law school roommate conundrum.)

Even in best case roommate relationships, compromise -- across everything from shopping and cleaning to bathroom scheduling and houseguests -- goes with the roommate territory. If you’d rather avoid engaging in these kinds of negotiations, living alone is a simple solution. (Then again, you can also think of it as practice for when you’re a practicing lawyer.)

3. You’ll have more “me” time.

If you’re an extrovert, the idea of living with other people -- particularly those with whom you already know you have much in common -- may sound like tons of fun. For introverts, however, sharing a living space with others -- particularly those with whom you’re already spending the bulk of your time -- may be the definition of awful. If your alone time is precious to you, passing on living with another law student may be the best way to go.

One last thing to keep in mind? Living arrangements are inherently personal and anything but one-size-fits-all. By spending a few minutes looking inward, you can find the best housing situation for your own unique wants and needs.

 

 

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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