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‚ÄčLeaves of Absence

‚Äč

Requesting a Leave of Absence

A leave of absence from Law School is rare and can result in significant negative consequences, but occasionally circumstances arise making the choice a sensible path. If you are considering the possibility of a leave, you should contact the Office of Student Life.

As you consider the possibility of a leave, be aware that the Law School's academic regulations require completion of degree requirements within five years from the date of first enrollment. In other words, you are limited in the number of semesters you can be absent and still maintain the ability to re-enroll.

In preparation for discussion, this guide (1) outlines a few general considerations designed to help you approach this decision, (2) describes the process for requesting a leave of absence, and (3) outlines the process for applying to return from a leave.


I. Considerations Impacting Your Decision to Request a Leave


The advisability of taking a leave will depend in part on whether your reason for considering a leave is volitional or wholly out of your control, and whether the reason is urgent and acute, or chronic and noncritical.

       A. Common Reasons for Considering a Leave, and Possible Alternatives

    1. Serious health challenges. A leave of absence is most appropriate when an unanticipated medical condition makes it very difficult or impossible for you to regularly attend class or complete required work throughout the term. In the case of a less serious challenge, a reduced load of ten credits (still full-time) may make more sense. And some health issues can be timed to fall when the impact will be less; the Office of Student Life can help you think through the best time for non-urgent surgery, for example.

    2. Caring for a family member. Similar to an unanticipated medical condition, caring for a family member can make it difficult to satisfy the demands of law school and a leave or reduced schedule may be appropriate. In some cases, it may be advisable to visit at another law school for a term, rather than to withdraw entirely.

    3. Ambivalence about law school or being a lawyer. If you are second-guessing your decision to attend law school, a first step is a conversation with the Office of Student Life, or other trusted faculty or administrative advisor at the Law School. It may also make sense to talk with a mental health professional. The reasons underlying your ambivalence must be weighed against the length of time you've been experiencing doubts, the amount of time left before you can obtain your JD, and the degree to which your doubts are affecting your ability to succeed in school. Your plans for the period of your leave are also key. It may be that a simple refocusing of your academic and professional goals with the help of a counselor would make it possible for you to stay enrolled and thrive.

    4. Other opportunities. Sometimes, a student will encounter a unique personal or professional opportunity that cannot be pursued while enrolled in law school classes. It is worth considering whether the opportunity could be pursued during the summer, or perhaps following graduation from law school. It is also important to think about whether the opportunity might jeopardize future legal employment possibilities. An opportunity that furthers your legal professional interests should be treated differently than one that arguably reflects ambivalence about law school, a topic discussed above.

      B. Consequences of a Leave

Any leave, regardless of how appropriate or necessary, is likely to accrue some negative consequences, particularly as it relates to your prospects of post-graduate employment. The post-graduate job search tends to follow rigid timelines, and taking off even just one semester can create significant additional challenges to an employment candidacy. The ability to mitigate these consequences is often greater where a leave is wholly out of your control, or where the reason is urgent and acute. Conversely, the consequences are likely more pronounced if there are multiple leaves of absence or if the absences are more volitional in nature.


II. Process for Requesting a Leave of Absence

  1.  Meet with the Office of Student Life. 
    1. To schedule an appointment, please contact Trudy Feldkamp in 316 HH or at (734) 764-0516 or tfeldkam@umich.edu.
    2. You may be advised  to meet with other administrators, in particular those in the Financial Aid Office and in the Office of Career Planning, regarding your plans.

  2. If you decide to proceed with taking a leave, send an e-mail message from your umich.edu account to both lawrecords@umich.edu and lawstudentlife@umich.edu, providing the following information:
    1. A statement that you are taking a leave of absence;
    2. The term that the leave of absence is to become effective; and
    3. The term that you anticipate returning from the leave of absence.
       


III. Process for Applying to Return from a Leave of Absence

  1. Schedule an appointment to speak with the Office of Student Life to discuss the possibility of returning to the Law School. 
  2. Schedule an appointment to speak with Dean Kaul in the Office of Career Planning, to discuss the impact of your leave and your return on your career prospects.  
  3. If you decide to proceed to return from your leave and have been approved by the Office of Student Life, send an email message to both lawrecords@umich.edu and lawstudentlife@umich.edu stating that you intend to return from the leave of absence and specifying the term in which you intend to return. To return for the upcoming fall term, you must send this email message by no later than July 1. To return for the upcoming winter term, you must send this email message by no later than November 1.
  4. If you receive financial aid (whether Law School grants or federal loans), you should also communicate with the Financial Aid Office (lawfinaid@umich.edu) in order to ensure that your aid is processed for the term you intend to return, and to resolve any other outstanding issues.