« on: April 25, 2011, 01:51:22 AM »
I'm tearing myself away from writing practice exams in preparation for my contracts and torts finals, but what the hey. I need a little break. I'm a 1L at a night law school with nearly 100 other 1Ls, and there are several of us attending who are 50-52. In fact, there are even a couple of people who appear to be crowding 60. Most of the students average around 35 years old. Age does not seem to matter in the greater scheme of things. There's a certain camaraderie that compels everybody to help each other out, regardless of age. People judge you on how well you perform in class and on the exams. Be ready to share your outlines and notes with everybody, and never miss a class. Excel and others will want to get to know you and learn how you do it. Be lazy with the reading, stay home with every case of the sniffles, come unprepared to class, do poorly on the tests — you'll find yourself going it alone. Nobody in law school wants to hang with the losers, and age has nothing to do with it.
That said, I think a fabulous education at a top tier law school when you're over 50 is a waste of money — at least for many people. At this age, the only thing that matters is to get the license. It's too late in life at this point for the prestige to pay off, and the cost of an ABA school can be staggering. Just my opinion, mind you. That doesn't mean you should settle for the Fly-By-Night Law School and its McJ.D. program. Those grads don't pass the Bar in high numbers. But you might find a reputable, state-accredited school that will give you a decent chance to pass the Bar without costing the price of a second house. And you'll study the same subjects and use the same textbooks as the ABA schools use. Once you pass the Bar, at this age it isn't terribly important where you went to school. The people who would care about where you got your J.D. won't hire you anyway. They want young lawyers with bright futures ahead of them. Age discrimination may be illegal, but they're attorneys themselves. They know how to handle the law.
It is absolutely true, however, that a 50-something student is not going to be invited to the local bar with the 20-somethings for pre-class shots of tequila. But honestly, who gives a rip? I can't deny, drinking in the service and college was fun when I was in my 20s, so I don't blame them for a thing. But I have no interest in watching younger people get liquored up before or after class. Being old enough to be their father would make me feel terribly out of place anyway. If you're 52, you're going to look for people with whom you share some common interests. You'll probably gravitate toward the older students first, then you'll find people who work in fields related to yours. I know all the veterans in my class because I was a Marine, and it's a bond that transcends age. Beyond that, I've made numerous friends who are maybe 15 years younger than I am, and we're getting close simply on a fellow-classmates level. Everyone wants a support network. So as previous writers have said, your acceptance by other students will depend more upon how you conduct yourself socially and what you bring to class than how old you are. But if you're looking for a date, a photography class is a better bet.