The first year of law school is tough.
So is playing Division I basketball.
Doing both at the same time is crazy, right? Not so, say a trio of first-year law students who are balancing Constitutional Law and Torts with shooting drills and away games.
They aren’t the first to attempt the double. Braedon Anderson, now in his third year at Seton Hall University School of Law, played on the basketball team there in 2015 in his first year. But it’s unusual to have more than one such law student-athlete in any given year. We put the full-court press on these ballers to find out why they want to be lawyers, what their classmates think of their basketball double lives, and how they manage to fit it all in. Read on for their stories.
Law School: University of Missouri School of Law
Position: Point Guard
Favorite Law Class: Contracts, Criminal Law
Favorite Law Class: Torts
Favorite Law Class: Legal Research and Writing
What reaction did you get from classmates when they first heard you are also playing basketball?
Aldridge: More than anything, their response has been totally supportive. Almost my entire section came to one of my first games and showed up with signs that said, “No. 5 is 1L of a Player,” and “No. 5 is Laying Down the Law.” I think initially they were shocked, then secondly they said, “OK, how are we going to get this girl to handle both and do it well?” They’ve been awesome.
Rowley: Some people think it’s really cool. Some people probably think I’m a little crazy. I might be a little crazy. One thing I love about William & Mary is the collaborative environment. You hear so many horror stories about how law school is so competitive and nobody wants to help each other out. I missed some class for basketball, and it can be difficult to deal with missing that much instruction time. But I have great friends who help me out when needed and are willing to share notes or review material with me and help keep me on track.
Hempy: I think some people didn’t really know it was allowed or possible. One of the best parts of the year for me has been getting to know the people in my classes. I’ve had buddies come down to the games and cheer us on. Overall, people have been supportive and encouraging.
Why did you decide to go to law school?
Aldridge: I’m quite an indecisive person and change my mind about every other day as to what I want to do in the future. I felt like a law degree would be versatile and can take you in a lot of different directions. I thought it was broad enough for my indecisiveness.
Rowley: As I was looking at my graduate school options, I knew I wanted to stay at William & Mary. I love the team and I love the school. My freshman and sophomore year of undergrad, my sister was a law student here. I got to see her go through it and see the quality of the friends she made. It gave me a little insight into her studies. And I got to see her job coming out of it—she’s doing very well. [Rowley’s sister is an associate at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson.]
Hempy: Pepperdine allows undergraduates to get a certificate in conflict management through the Strauss Institute for Dispute Resolution, which is part of the law school. You take classes in negotiation, mediation, and some elective classes. That is really where my interest in law school came from. I took four classes at the law school as an undergrad. I really enjoyed that program.
NCAA rules limit collegiate players to four seasons spread over five years. How are you eligible to play as a law student?
Aldridge: I played my freshman and sophomore years at the University of Kansas. I came in with several college credits from high school. After my sophomore year at Kansas, I decided to transfer. The NCAA makes you sit out for an entire year when you transfer from Division I to Division I, so I took a redshirt year so I would have two more years of eligibility. I completed my undergraduate degree in political science after my third year of college. I’ll go to law school and play for two years at the same time, then I’ll finish up my 3L year not playing.
Rowley: I got a pretty bad injury my freshman year so I took a redshirt year. Then I graduated in three years between having some AP credits and taking summer classes. I’m planning to play again next year.
Hempy: I’m a walk-on at Pepperdine. I transferred to Pepperdine as a sophomore from a school where I wasn’t playing basketball. I tried out for the team as a sophomore and I didn’t make it that year. I did some other things, like study abroad. Then last year, when I was a senior, I decided to give it one more shot. I tried out again and I made the team. I played last year and I’m playing this year. But because of the clock that started in my freshman year, it will be my last year of eligibility.
What has been the toughest part of juggling law school and basketball?
Aldridge: The most difficult is probably after a huge game or a really tough practice, being able to physically, mentally and emotionally be able to cancel out what just happened on the floor and refocus into a different discipline—to be able to study the law with as much focus as it demands. Usually after a tough game or a tough practice, you want to go home and sleep. But now you have three to four hours of reading on the back end.
Rowley: It’s definitely a challenge of time management. I love both things I do. I love playing basketball. I say the same thing about the reading. I enjoy the material. I don’t know if I could do it if I didn’t enjoy it. Besides that, I just squeeze out a lot of time. If I have 12 minutes on a bus from the hotel in Baltimore to the practice gym, then that’s 12 minutes where I can read. If I have nine minutes between a film session and a lifting session, that’s nine minutes where I can open a case, or just write facts down.
Hempy: I think the hardest part for me is switching back and forth, sometimes multiple times a day. If we’re lifting weights, then I have a class. Or practice, and a class, then film. Going back and forth at times can be tough. Sometimes in the first half-hour of practice, it takes me a little while to forget about contracts or property, or whatever else I was doing before that, and really lock in on basketball.
What strategies have you come up with to fit everything in?
Aldridge: I wake up early. I go to bed late. More than anything, it’s taking advantage of a 15-minute window here, a 20-minute window there. It’s trying to never waste a second, because you can’t waste a second when you are trying to work two full-time jobs, basically.
Rowley: One of the best things I’ve done is maintain sleep as a priority. I try and get eight hours of sleep every night. I do almost no caffeine. I go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. I try to treat it like a job. I try to get to the aw school about 8 a.m. every day whether class starts then or not. Then I normally leave for practice from about 1 to about 5 or so. Then I go back to the law school and wrap up. I leave everything at the law school. I try not to bring any work home.
Hempy: One thing I do on Sunday night is sit down and write out everything that’s going on during the week. I did that as an undergrad as well. But now what I try to do is map in my reading, or even just times to relax or spend time with people and re-energize. Having a more deliberate schedule has been helpful.
What do you want to do after graduation?
Aldridge: As of right now, I’m leaning toward getting into athletic administration and being an athletic director at some point. If being an athletic director isn’t my end all, then I could definitely see myself getting involved in a conference like the SEC, Pac 12 or Big 12, and working in their administration or in their compliance offices.
Rowley: I don’t have a clear idea yet. One semester down, maybe I can start whittling things down. But quite frankly, a lot of things still excite me. I’m open to finding relevant internship experience, and maybe getting into private practice and getting a feel for some areas a little better.
Hempy: I’m still trying to figure that out. We have a program at Pepperdine for 1Ls called professional formation. It’s to help you think though what you potentially want to do. They bring in different speakers. One speaker who came was a public defender. Hearing his story and what he does on a day-to-day basis was something I’m interested in.
There is a pretty big college basketball tournament in March. Might we see you there?
Aldridge: I would say so. We’re ranked 11th in the country right now. We’ve had a good season so far. Hopefully, we can keep it rolling. Our goal would be to host a NCAA tournament game. That way we’d be playing at home.
Rowley: We’ve been knocking on the door for a couple of years now, but we haven’t quite been able to get there. We’re one of a handful of teams that have never made the tournament. Hopefully, this is the year. We’re tied for first in the conference right now. We started 5-0. I would love to miss more classes in March.
Hempy: To be honest, it has been a rough season for us so far. We’re a younger team. We’ve had some injuries. Record-wise, it has been a bit of a tough go. We had a great win last night against our rivals Loyola Marymount. As far as the tournament goes, we’re not in a position where we’ll get an at-large bid. We’re going to keep trying to get better these last few weeks of the season. We’ll do our best and see what happens.