Law School Discussion

Specific Groups => Minority and Non-Traditional Law Students => Topic started by: suziqueues on January 23, 2012, 02:14:03 PM

Title: 38 yr old mom - #14 law school - selfish/crazy?
Post by: suziqueues on January 23, 2012, 02:14:03 PM
I'm a 38 year old mom.  I have over 13 years professional experience in IT project management but it does nothing at all for me.  I am in a position now where money is no longer an obstacle yet this seems to make decisions about my future even more difficult.  I am fortunate to live close to an excellent law school and feel that my chances of getting in are very good with an great GPA and LSAT.  I have always wanted to be in law (judicial/government), and I have always been told that I should be in law.

I just want a good idea of what I'll be giving up for the next few years.  I'll have a full time (possibly live-in) nanny, but I do not want to ignore my mom responsibilities for the entire period.  Money is not a factor in any regard (cost or post-graduation).  My concerns are all surrounding what my life will be like while in law school.  I put myself through undergraduate part-time while working full-time as an IT PM working 50-60 hr/week.  I've never been one that had to study to get A's, but I know that law school is completely different.  I just don't know how different. 
Title: Re: 38 yr old mom - #14 law school - selfish/crazy?
Post by: FalconJimmy on January 24, 2012, 07:31:45 AM
It can be done.  Our backgrounds are remarkably similar.  (13 year IT career, worked full-time or more during undergrad.)

I'm in my 2nd semester of a full-time program.  I can still coach/assist my son's various teams.  I still have business interests outside of school.  I'm divorced, and my ex has a schedule that means I've got my kid more days than not.  My grades?  I thought I worked pretty hard for them, but they're pretty unremarkable.  (3.088 on about a 2.8 curve.)  I do think that the time I spend with my son is part of the reason why I'm not closer to the dean's list, but that's a tradeoff I'll take any day.  We went to Disney for Thanksgiving, for instance, instead of me using that precious time to prepare for finals, which is what I should have been doing from a Law School perspective. 

Personally, I don't think it's that hard to graduate from law school.  It's very hard to graduate from the top of your class, though.  So, it sort of depends.  If you really want to set the curve, you're going to have to put in more time and effort than I did. 

Personally, I feel like I've got 17 years with my son, then he's off to college and off to make his way in the world.  I want to make the most of every single year.  Even if I could get top 10% (which is debatable and maybe even doubtful), would I give up 3 of my remaining 7 years to do it?  Then plug away 60-70 hours a week as a new associate in a big-money job for 5 years afterwards?   

Been there.  Done that.  Made a good amount of money working in a corporate career.  Made just as much, with less effort, and a lot more enjoyment, having my own company.  I'm not eager to return to a desk for 60 hours a week.

Money isn't everything and I think there are plenty of ways to make a lot of money in the law without selling your soul and giving up your family life.  In fact, if family is a priority, the law allows you to have a career with flexible hours where you're well compensated for the hours you work.  It can be the worst thing that ever happened to your family life, or the best.  I think which one it is is entirely up to you.

I say go for it.  You seem like a smart, focused, capable person.  Maybe give it 110% for the first semester.  If you place top 10%, you can assess what to do from there.  If you are, say, in the middle of the pack, frankly, you can probably stay there with a lot less effort. 

I don't think you're selfish or crazy, but if you are, so am I.  So, maybe I can't recognize it.
Title: Re: 38 yr old mom - #14 law school - selfish/crazy?
Post by: legalpractitioner on February 06, 2012, 09:12:08 AM
Get real, it's not like you are joining a monastic order. Many students raise families and hold down jobs while in law school.  If law was that difficult, how do explain all the stupid, lazy, and incompetent lawyers out there?

If anyone questions your judgment, just tell them its not like you signed up for something really stupid lifetime spinning lessons.


I'm a 38 year old mom.  I have over 13 years professional experience in IT project management but it does nothing at all for me.  I am in a position now where money is no longer an obstacle yet this seems to make decisions about my future even more difficult.  I am fortunate to live close to an excellent law school and feel that my chances of getting in are very good with an great GPA and LSAT.  I have always wanted to be in law (judicial/government), and I have always been told that I should be in law.

I just want a good idea of what I'll be giving up for the next few years.  I'll have a full time (possibly live-in) nanny, but I do not want to ignore my mom responsibilities for the entire period.  Money is not a factor in any regard (cost or post-graduation).  My concerns are all surrounding what my life will be like while in law school.  I put myself through undergraduate part-time while working full-time as an IT PM working 50-60 hr/week.  I've never been one that had to study to get A's, but I know that law school is completely different.  I just don't know how different.
Title: Re: 38 yr old mom - #14 law school - selfish/crazy?
Post by: Morten Lund on February 17, 2012, 11:31:33 AM
I have always wanted to be in law (judicial/government), and I have always been told that I should be in law.

I just want a good idea of what I'll be giving up for the next few years. 

I agree with the previous posters as to law school itself - but I would emphasize what FJ hints at, and ask (or suggest that you ask yourself) what your plans are for AFTER law school.  Most people have no particular sense of what it means to be "in law" - usually when someone tells you that you should be "in law" it simply means that you have an argumentative streak.  And while that isn't a bad thing, it is not a particularly good predictor for whether you will find happiness in a legal career.

A law degree offers a wide variety of career options - so wide that it is impossible to plan without narrowing it down a bit.  And many of those careers require time commitments far beyond what is required in law school itself, so you should consider that as well.

You suggest "judicial/government" as your immediate target - and those are options that could involve a more humane job schedule, but still pretty open-ended.  Prosecutors and defense attorneys, for instance, both typically work quite hard, and for very limited pay.  Judges may have a better gig, but appointments are hard to come by and require experience in harder-working jobs.  Government employment is perhaps the safest, and the Federal government (at least) is hiring - but here again it is pretty broad. 

I do not mean to dissuade you, but I encourage you to think about in some detail what you plan on doing with your law degree (and ask questions here, as many others are thinking on the same thing).  If you are simply collecting degrees, then there is of course no particular concern, but if you are planning a career shift you should make sure that you are shifting to a career that will meet your needs.

Good luck.
Title: Re: 38 yr old mom - #14 law school - selfish/crazy?
Post by: sollicitus on February 17, 2012, 11:34:32 AM
I've seen ladies in their 60's enroll. Compared to them you'd still be a spring chicken young one.  ;)
Title: Re: 38 yr old mom - #14 law school - selfish/crazy?
Post by: legalpractitioner on February 17, 2012, 03:14:49 PM
Compared to real labor like landscaping or farming, legal work is a walk in the park.  All those poor suffering lawyers remind me of the pigs in Animal Farm whining for their next mocha latte. Government/Judicial work doesn't sound like hard labor to me.
Title: Re: 38 yr old mom - #14 law school - selfish/crazy?
Post by: sollicitus on February 17, 2012, 04:39:04 PM
Compared to real labor like landscaping or farming, legal work is a walk in the park.  All those poor suffering lawyers remind me of the pigs in Animal Farm whining for their next mocha latte. Government/Judicial work doesn't sound like hard labor to me.

 ??? As someone who does done both manual and non manual labor and heard the "that's easy"  argument from both sides in reflection to eachother I have to ask, have you done both?

Which govt agencies have you worked for?
Title: Re: 38 yr old mom - #14 law school - selfish/crazy?
Post by: legalpractitioner on February 17, 2012, 05:05:12 PM
Child Protective Services and it was still easier than painting 8 hours a day.
Title: Re: 38 yr old mom - #14 law school - selfish/crazy?
Post by: sollicitus on February 17, 2012, 06:22:06 PM
Child Protective Services and it was still easier than painting 8 hours a day.

I've done both and if you are doing your job right it shouldn't be. Anyone can keep doing manual labor or any other mindless task (some desk related yes) but after being both physically and mentally exhausted I would rather climb one more hill or dig one more ditch (or paint one more fence) than look up the law, brief it and have to look pretty at the same time/be polite.

CPS, I've seen them in action. I agree that most civil servants don't work as hard as they should, but that's on them for just being lazy. Uncle Sam and it's safety net jobs at their best.
Title: Re: 38 yr old mom - #14 law school - selfish/crazy?
Post by: legalpractitioner on February 18, 2012, 03:46:58 PM
That wasn't my point, whether it is government work or legal work, it is not back breaking manual labor.
Title: Re: 38 yr old mom - #14 law school - selfish/crazy?
Post by: sollicitus on February 19, 2012, 09:15:36 AM
That wasn't my point, whether it is government work or legal work, it is not back breaking manual labor.

Your "argument" is a nonstarter. "backbreaking" manual labor is easier than true legal work. To compare that to most govt work is just a joke at best, if not a complete and irrelevant inaccuracy
Title: Re: 38 yr old mom - #14 law school - selfish/crazy?
Post by: legalpractitioner on February 20, 2012, 10:32:52 AM
Animal Farm logic.
Title: Re: 38 yr old mom - #14 law school - selfish/crazy?
Post by: sollicitus on February 22, 2012, 03:23:34 PM
Animal Farm logic.

Also a nonstarter, as stated "done both".

"DarkWing Duck" logic. (or whatever, cartoons,etc) :P
Title: Re: 38 yr old mom - #14 law school - selfish/crazy?
Post by: musicalshore on April 14, 2012, 02:51:24 PM
I've come to the board with the same question, and I'm in a similar boat.

I'm 38 years old. I've a BA in Comp.Sci and I've been working as a programmer/consultant for 14 years. I'm unmarried, have not been too career oriented until now (although some of my friends might disagree). Being a consultant has given me a lot of freedom to move around and see different places.

I'm completely bored by programming as well. The thing is, I'm good at it and I get paid well. I'm also not rich. I've saved some money, but basically I've used most of my savings to buy not having to work.

About a year and a half ago, a friend set me up on a blind date with someone who turned out to be seriously mentally ill, and when I broke up with her she went to the police and told them I beat her. I was arrested and charged with felony assault. I successfully fought the case. It was a miserable situation to be in, but I came alive defending myself. I did most of the work, the lawyer just knew how to maneuver in the courts.

This got me thinking again about law school, and I did some more research. My lawyer loved his work and when I told him I was thinking about going to law school, he was very encouraging. He was the only one. I've a friend who is a lawyer for the DAs office in his city; he advised against it. He said he had two lawyers from top tier schools at his firm working for free for the past six months because they were hoping they would get hired. His advice was "don't go to law school unless you are independently wealthy." He felt overworked and underpaid.

Is it worth it? I'm a "non-traditional" student. Most things that I'm good at I've taught myself. If I'm not interested in something, I don't give it too much of my time. I do really well on standardized tests, and I think outside of the box. I'm resourceful, intuitive and very curious. I'm also very good at spotting untruths and inconsistencies in a story.

Here's more: I've deep contempt for injustice and for bullies. I've heard this is not a good personality trait for lawyers. I don't readily back down from conflict, which is another reason I want to be a lawyer. As an adult I've often felt at a great disadvantage in business situations due to unfamiliarity with the law.

Would going to law school be a bad idea at this age?
Title: Re: 38 yr old mom - #14 law school - selfish/crazy?
Post by: musicalshore on April 14, 2012, 03:05:34 PM
Quote
That wasn't my point, whether it is government work or legal work, it is not back breaking manual labor.

I agree with Apophenia. Mindless manual labor may kill you quicker, but at least you can daydream while you are doing it. Focusing requires sustained effort. Most of my friends who do manual labor do it because they don't have any ambition, not because they are unintelligent. Also, I've met a lot of people in the corporate world who are barely literate.
Title: Re: 38 yr old mom - #14 law school - selfish/crazy?
Post by: CWFirm on April 16, 2012, 12:11:29 PM
Make sure you don't sacrifice your time with your kids. This is always the one thing that people regret after looking back at a successful career. So if you do decide to take the plunge, make sure you are still prioritizing.
Title: Re: 38 yr old mom - #14 law school - selfish/crazy?
Post by: sollicitus on April 16, 2012, 05:29:58 PM
Make sure you don't sacrifice your time with your kids. This is always the one thing that people regret after looking back at a successful career. So if you do decide to take the plunge, make sure you are still prioritizing.

True, but that time gets eaten up just as fast working overtime as sitting in class.
Title: Re: 38 yr old mom - #14 law school - selfish/crazy?
Post by: nmlaw on April 18, 2012, 08:07:47 AM
I would definitely go for it, especially if you have the support of a nanny and financial security.  I'm a 33yo mom of two.  My first was a month old and just out of the NICU when I started law school, and my second was born when I was a 2L.  Of course being a parent in law school brings it's own set of challenges (to be honest, every day is a juggling act and sometimes I feel like I'm trying to be supermom by taking on way too much) but it is worth it!  I am in a part-time program and so am able to spend a lot of time with my girls but still get in enough study time.  When I graduate, they will be in school and (hopefully!) I won't feel badly about returning to work full-time.  I think I faced two hurdles: "mommy brain" and exams.  The former was simply due to having babies and being in night school (not such a good combination after all), but I've overcome that.  Exams caught me off-guard in the beginning, just because I was out of practice after working for so long before returning to school. 

I think the best decision I made was to become involved in law school activities.  As a new mom, I sought out other student parents (there are more than you think) and began organizing events for the law school community and their kids.  I have gotten to know many of the students, professors, and staff and I have found a strong, supportive network in them.  Because of this, I landed an amazing summer internship, and I suspect this may ultimately help me with a job offer when I graduate.

In sum, you have a unique set of skills as a mature student and a mom.  Use them to your advantage and you can thrive in law school and still be an awesome mom.