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Jake Gilboy ‘20

photo of JakeWhen Widener University Commonwealth Law School moved online in March as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Jake Gilboy may have been one of the few students embracing the change for the final weeks of his law school career.

“I was teaching my own high school social studies classes online, coordinating virtual classes for our three school-age children, caring for our newborn son when my wife worked via tele-health as a nurse practitioner, and hopping on Zoom for my law school classes at night” he said. “I would have liked more time in my day during those weeks, but at least I didn’t have to make the round-trip drive from Scranton to Harrisburg three nights a week.”

Gilboy graduated Widener Law Commonwealth in May after completing the extended division program and completed the virtual bar exam on October 5 – 7. He continues to teach and head the social studies department at the Abington Heights School District in Clarks Summit and hopes to transition to a litigation legal practice in the near future.

Gilboy decided on law school after a longtime fascination with the profession and observing friends and family members working in the legal community.

“I toyed with other advanced degrees, ones I could obtain closer to home, but I kept coming back to the law,” he said, adding that his primary motivation was to make more of a difference in his community by serving people who need legal assistance.

He said his wife Natalie went back to school first, getting her nurse practitioner’s degree after working as a labor and delivery nurse. He took the Law School Admissions Test the spring Natalie completed her degree at the University of Scranton.

“She totally understands what it takes to go back to school while you’re working and have a family,” Gilboy said. “Her support has been unwavering.”

Gilboy’s schedule over the past four years was grueling. He left Abington Heights High School every day at 3:30 pm. Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays he headed to Harrisburg, arriving at Widener Law Commonwealth for classes at 5:30, and leaving campus to get home at midnight. On Wednesdays, he would head to the library at nearby University of Scranton to prepare for class the next day. He worked and studied when he could between family obligations on the weekend to prepare for his Monday and Tuesday classes.

“I estimate that I spent more than 1,400 hours in the car and drove more than 85,000 miles over the four years I commuted back and forth to Harrisburg,” he said. “I became highly efficient at time management.”

Gilboy said that he was surprised by the challenges of law school at first.

“As a professional, I’d been a department head at the high school, worked closely with administration, written curriculum, and achieved professional accolades,” he said. “But the depth and volume of study, along with the competitive nature in law school, was not something I was fully prepared for.”

He added that establishing strong study habits and skills, connecting with mentors, and creating a network of colleagues at the law school all contributed to his ultimate success.

This interview was conducted in Fall 2020.


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