STUDENTS: “There’s no perfect time”- 3L Amy McDonald, mother of two, thrives with supportive law school community

With a degree in journalism and the beginnings of a career as a political reporter, Amy McDonald found herself more and more intrigued with the topics she covered.

“I love writing and I loved being in the thick of things that were going on in the city and the whole state,” she said. “But I felt like I wanted to be on the other side of things, making things happen instead of just observing them.”

McDonald had the idea of law school in the back of her head, but one major life moment spurred her to actually apply to the S.J. Quinney College of Law: the birth of her daughter, Hazel, in 2016.

“When you’re having kids and trying to pursue a career, there’s never a perfect time for anything,” she said. “So you just have to do it when you feel the motivation and inspiration to do it. My daughter motivates me, and that’s what brought me to law school.”

Entering law school with a toddler is no easy feat, and neither is giving birth at the beginning of 3L year (McDonald’s son, Peter, was born in the fall of 2019). But it was certainly made easier with the help of supportive faculty members, encouraging classmates, and accommodating facilities.

McDonald never felt passed by for opportunities due to her pregnancy and young family. In fact, her motivation and top grades made her a prime candidate for law review article editor, a summer position at the Salt Lake City Attorney’s Office, an internship at a downtown law firm, and several other scholarly and career-building activities.

“Professor Francis asked me to be her research fellow, even knowing I was pregnant and would be out of commission for a period of time,” McDonald said. “She has been my champion. And the same thing with Professor Richards. I really wanted to be a writing TA, but I wasn’t sure if I’d have the time or energy. He said, ‘Don’t even worry about it. You’ll definitely be able to do it.’ my professors have been incredibly helpful and supportive.”

McDonald’s fellow classmates, many of whom also have young families, also find ways to show support. From collecting baby gifts before Peter’s birth to sending class notes so she wouldn’t fall behind while she recovered, the students at the S.J. Quinney College of Law are eager to cheer each other on in all stages of life.

Even the law school environment itself is welcoming to young families, with lactation rooms available on every floor and a study room with an attached playroom specifically for parents with young children.

“I feel like everyone at the law school is really forward-thinking,” she said. “They’re not just trying to accommodate students now, they are trying to shape the legal field for the future to make this the norm.”

McDonald has been offered a position at Kirton McConkie, a law firm based in downtown Salt Lake City, where she’ll work after graduation. She hopes to eventually work in public policy and enact change on issues that are important to her, like affordable housing and healthcare.