Law School Discussion

Non-Traditional Student Question

Non-Traditional Student Question
« on: February 15, 2008, 07:44:34 AM »
I hope this is the right forum for my question. Forgive me if it is not.

I am wondering if anyone has any advice/experience for someone in my situation. I am currently evaluating some career options. Right now, I work as a full time law enforcement officer.

When I first started a career in law enforcement, I thought it would be a lifelong career path. 5 Years on the job, that's changed. The longer that I do this, the more I wonder if I could do something more in another facet of the Justice System.

I plan on taking the LSAT in June, so to a large degree my result on the test will dictate my options. I am finishing up my under graduate degree in Criminal Justice and currently have a decent, Though not spectacular, GPA (3.85).

The most difficult hurdle that I have to over come is my family situation. How does one support a Wife and two young kids while going through law school? Is this even doable?

My wife has no college education, so any job that she could potentially get while I attend school would be very low paying. I thought that trying the part-time/evening program route may be an option, but I read that the work load makes this extraordinarily difficult.

I have been told (perhaps falsely) that it is possible for a Law Student to obtain paid summer work. However, I don't have any clue as to if this would be sufficient to support the family while attending.

Others have told me that you can borrow your way through school in a situation like mine, but I don't find that to be an attractive option.

Has anyone been in a similar situation, and does anyone have advice?

Thanks in advance.


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Re: Non-Traditional Student Question
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2008, 08:09:49 AM »
Much more knowledgeable people than I will chime in but, for the moment, this is what I understand:

1. working full-time while attending law school part-time is challenging but not overly so. lots of people do it and they are mostly nontraditional students -- older, married, mid-career.

2. paid summer employment is possible for all three years. the 'higher ranked' the school that you attend, the more likely that you will have an opportunity for summer employment at a law firm that pays "market rate", i.e. $3000/week or so.

3. a 3.85 GPA with a healthy LSAT (say 168 and up) will likely land you a full scholarship at a reputable law school. borrowing living expenses under those circumstances may not seem quite so daunting.


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Re: Non-Traditional Student Question
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2008, 08:13:21 AM »
Former law enforcement officer here.  I'll try to give as much insight as I can based on what I've learned throughout this process.

  • With a solid LSAT score, your GPA gives you a pretty good shot at scholarship money from a lot of schools.  A 165 or better I'd suspect should give you great financial consideration from a lot of T2 schools, probably some T1 schools.
  • Part-time is an attractive option for non-traditional applicants with families, as it allows you to work at least part-time to support your family.  The drawback is that it will take you longer to finish school unless you take summer courses.
  • You can go the loan route to supplement your wife's income,  but it's definitely a fallback option due to the debt you'll incur

I'm not married yet, nor do I have kids, but I think with some good planning (both for the LSAT and financially), this is definitely doable.  Hopefully, others will chime in with more insight.  Good luck.


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Re: Non-Traditional Student Question
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2008, 09:55:02 AM »
If you are considering public service (prosecutor or PD), there are some lovely repayment options that really make it possible. Contact the financial aid offices of the schools you are looking at for tons of info.

Good luck!

Re: Non-Traditional Student Question
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2008, 10:39:12 AM »
Thanks for the Responses so far.

Is summer employment only an option if you attend an upper tier law school? What if one attends a tier 3/4 school in order to take advantage of being close to family, who would in turn help take care of the kids. (This was one option that I looked at.)

Does the loss of potential summer work outweigh the gains that one would have by having free childcare available?


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Re: Non-Traditional Student Question
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2008, 11:51:13 AM »
I'm 39, single mom (ages 10 & 17) and hoping to attend W & M or URichmond in the fall.  There are lots of options for folks like us.  Here's what I'm doing:

1) Refinaincing my house to an interest only (for 10 yrs) mortgage with about 55k cash out.  My payment will remain about the same, but I can tap equity to invest in my future.  That 55k gives me about 15 months living expenses.

2) Planning on going into public service law b/c of a new federal law that helps with loan repayment.  Check out this site for more info:  Unfortunately, it is only good for federal loans and federal loans can only cover the official COA (Cost of Attendance) certified by the school, which is ridiculously low.

3) Hoping to work at a firm for both 1L summer and 2L summer, but I'm very realistic that it might not happen for 1L summer -- it is a longshot.  Those spots tend to go to students at T1 schools.  Being connected to some firms helps (and I am, so my fingers are crossed that my network and being at W & M will help).   Depending on where you work for these summers, you can make about 30k.

4)Planning on having a lot of private student loan debt.  It's just a fact of life.

Your GPA is good and if you do well on the LSAT (use Powerscore; avoid Kaplan & Princeton Review!).  Read posts here.  Read "How to Get Into The Top Law Schools" and go to the best school you can get into.

Good luck!