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trustno1

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law school for late bloomers
« on: May 29, 2008, 09:04:41 PM »
ok, i'm 36, still have no frakkin' clue what I want to do with my life and law school seems like my way out of a monotonous and unsatisfying work life. is there anyone else here who is slightly older than the average law school student, let's say over 30, who has some insightful advice they want to offer?

- were the lsat's difficult for you?

- how do you juggle work with school? especially if you have a family.

- are your job prospects everything you've hoped for?

- are you satisfied with your choice to attend law school?

- was it hard securing financial aid?

jacy85

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Re: law school for late bloomers
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2008, 09:34:56 PM »
Law school should not be a way out just because your current career is boring.  Practicing law itself is BORING.  It's not glamorous for the most part.  Instead, I think the attorneys who really get are satisfied with their jobs are those who either pursue a CAUSE they are interested in or are simply interested and passionate about the law and how it develops.

Many attorneys have neither, and there are those that just plod along (and probably would describe their job as you described yours), or those who actively hate it.

I would figure out what exactly you find attractive about the law, why it would be a good fit for you before upending your life.

But this is something I think everyone should do before law school.  I've seen more than a few people at my school successfully juggle family (SOs, spouses, children).  If your family stands behind your choice, you can do very well.  Good luck!

trustno1

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Re: law school for late bloomers
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2008, 10:41:34 PM »
Law school should not be a way out just because your current career is boring.  Practicing law itself is BORING.  It's not glamorous for the most part.  Instead, I think the attorneys who really get are satisfied with their jobs are those who either pursue a CAUSE they are interested in or are simply interested and passionate about the law and how it develops.

Many attorneys have neither, and there are those that just plod along (and probably would describe their job as you described yours), or those who actively hate it.

I agree. perhaps I should've worded that differently. practicing law appeals to me because I like the idea of helping others, or making a difference in someone's life. but, people do change. I've talked to people that were passionate about law when they first became lawyers but just like any other job it slowly started to wear them down. I guess it's all a state of mind.

Papa Bear

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Re: law school for late bloomers
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2008, 01:43:38 AM »
ok, i'm 36, still have no frakkin' clue what I want to do with my life and law school seems like my way out of a monotonous and unsatisfying work life. is there anyone else here who is slightly older than the average law school student, let's say over 30, who has some insightful advice they want to offer?

- were the lsat's difficult for you?

- how do you juggle work with school? especially if you have a family.

- are your job prospects everything you've hoped for?

- are you satisfied with your choice to attend law school?

- was it hard securing financial aid?

I'm over 30 with a family.

The LSAT is difficult for pretty much everybody, but I don't think they were more difficult for me than for a younger person. I suppose there's no way to tell, really.

I'm a full time student, so I don't juggle work with school, at least not yet, so I can't help you there. I know a couple people who did during their first year, one of whom has a family, and I'm not sure how they did it. Juggling school with family hasn't been particularly tough for me. Before school I worked and was involved in all sorts of things, so law school just replaced all of that and I still have about the same amount of time left for family.

My job prospects are unknown right now - check back in 4-6 months. I scored a summer job as a research assistant for the summer between my 1L & 2L years, and I know a lot of other folks who landed summer jobs too. The summer jobs here are not limited to the top quarter or even half of the class. Those who worked hard at it found jobs. HUGE DISCLAIMER: I do not know this to be the norm. Job prospects are certain to vary based on location and school.

I am satisfied. Deeply satisfied. I am grateful I have the opportunity and means to do this. I've made a lot of dumb choices in my life and this is not one of them.

I was worried about financial aid too, since I had a decent-paying job and some assets. It turned out to not be a problem at all. I don't know if that's the general rule but I haven't heard of other people having problems either. Things might vary from school to school, and if you're planning on part time then that may change things too. You'll probably have to talk to the financial aid people of whichever law school you get into.

As for sage advice, I probably don't have any. If you know some attorneys, I suggest talking to them about what they do and why/if they enjoy it. Also, if you're sure you're going to go, understand that probably none of your work experience will help you. Before law school I knew exactly what I was doing, and it was unsettling to make the transition to knowing almost nothing and sometimes even being...um...wrong. Sometimes. I started to suspect that all the other students were brighter than me, and a few of them probably agreed. It was a little uncomfortable at first. I got over it though, and I think I've settled into things nicely.

After all that rambling, I guess my sage advice is this: go in with a plan, know that it will probably not work out quite that way but that's okay, and do your best to clear your mind of any corporate hubris (thinking or acting like you know when you really don't) so you can effectively study and learn from class faster than I did.
"Facts have a well-known liberal bias."

EdinTally

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Re: law school for late bloomers
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2008, 01:58:48 AM »
ok, i'm 36, still have no frakkin' clue what I want to do with my life and law school seems like my way out of a monotonous and unsatisfying work life. is there anyone else here who is slightly older than the average law school student, let's say over 30, who has some insightful advice they want to offer?

- were the lsat's difficult for you?

- how do you juggle work with school? especially if you have a family.

- are your job prospects everything you've hoped for?

- are you satisfied with your choice to attend law school?

- was it hard securing financial aid?
I'll be 41 (fall 09) when I start law school.  I've heard tales of people much older though.

- I do find the LSAT difficult, but my scores are getting a bit better.

- I really have a strong desire to do criminal defense work, so I'm hoping there will be a job out there somewhere.

- Absolutely satisfied so far.  Even at my ripe "old age", I get a giddy feeling deep in my gut whenever I daydream about going to school that first day.  :D 

- I hope aid isn't an issue.  It hasn't been so far.

Good luck to ya.

Refused Party Program

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Re: law school for late bloomers
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2008, 09:07:10 AM »
I think the LSAT wouldn't have been any harder earlier in life. I think where you might run into some trouble is preparing for it. A full time student without work or family commitments might have more free time to prepare. I found time, so this wasn't an issue for me.

Getting financial aid wasn't an issue for me, however, I didn't need more than the regular subsidized Stafford Loan. It will impact "free money" but it won't impact loans. It ought to not impact merit money, which is most of the free money anyway. I think my expected contribution last year was over $50K and I still got the loan I needed.

I will be honest, there were times this past year where I really thought I had made a bad choice. Especially around Feb or Mar, where first year was really starting to get to me. Things turned around once we started Mock Trial and Moot Court competitions, mainly because I felt like I had "found my place" in the legal landscape. Right now, I'm actually very excited about my future career, so I would say it wasn't a bad decision.

Being older, just be prepared for your fellow classmates to have a different attitude than you simply as a result of being younger. There most likely will be some students in your age group. However, the majority will be 25 and under. This was a little bit more of a problem for me than I thought it was going to be. I've made my friends here, and I'm just fine. It will just be shocking to you how "high school" law school can be.

Law school involves spending a lot of money and putting yourself through an emotional ordeal. Really make sure it is what you want to do.

uh huh.

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Re: law school for late bloomers
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2008, 04:07:00 PM »

- were the lsat's difficult for you?

- how do you juggle work with school? especially if you have a family.

- are your job prospects everything you've hoped for?

- are you satisfied with your choice to attend law school?

- was it hard securing financial aid?

I am 35 and just graduated, and am currently preparing for two bar exams. I am married with no children, but do own a house, and co-own a business, with my husband.

Let me preface my answers first by giving you some background on my 8-year experience with law school (yes, you read that correctly). I completed a year of law school in 1999-2000 (I was 26). I ranked highly in my class that year. I dropped out, though, in part due to some family issues. But truth be told, had I REALLY been committed to my decision to go to law school, I would have stayed and made it work. But instead, I was in law school for the wrong reasons - I thought some of the skills from my old career would transfer nicely into law (which was true), but I really just wanted to escape from my old career, and law school seemed like a smart thing to do. But by the time the end of that first year came around, I was so tired from school, from dealing with my family, and from being BROKE (I was on my own then, and had to finance everything by myself), that I just couldn't face another two years. In 2004, I decided to take another look at what really happened with my law school experience, and I did a significant amount of research, speaking with attorneys I knew, shadowing them whenever it was possible, talking to judges and attorneys that I didn't know, ones who were happy, those who were not . . .  let's just say, I spent a good four months just talking to attorneys, trying to decide if this was a good fit. I decided to take the plunge again - and I had to start all over again.

I tell you this because ALL law students, not just non-traditional students, must have a very deep resolve to GET THROUGH LAW SCHOOL. There will be times where you will be tempted to walk away; sometimes things get really hard and you'll be tired; you won't have time to do anything but law school-related things or those family obligations/chores that you HAVE to do. And don't let anyone fool you - the second year is JUST as hard as the first (for different reasons though), so it's not like it's only one year of difficulty. You must really, really, really, love what you are doing, or at least love where you're going to end up at the end of three years.

Now, on to your specific questions:
LSATS - they weren't hard for me either time . . . I like tests, so it was kind of fun for me. In fact, I got the identical score both times I took it.

The Juggle - I did not work for an employer during my first two years, so that was a help, and as I said before, we have no kids. My husband has been amazingly supportive, and my biggest cheerleader all the way; if he had been demanding of me in any way, I would not have been as successful as I have been. In terms of juggling the business, I do much better in life when I have a lot of things on my plate, so it forced me to really manage my time - it all got done.

Job Prospects - I was fortunate to land an amazing summer associate position with my dream-firm last year, and I ended up working for that firm all through my 3rd year of school. It was the single most rewarding experience of my life, professional or otherwise. I cannot wait to get back there in September, and apparently, the love is mutual (the partners I work for have been e-mailing me asking me to come back early if possible!) I love my job, I love my work, and it is so far beyond what I had determined would be satisfactory for me prior to law school, that I feel truly blessed.

Satisfaction - see Job Prospects above. I could not be more satisfied - my life and career is better than I had ever hoped it could be. This work brings out all of my best qualities, and uses all of my best talents.

Financial Aid - I did not have any issue with financial aid, in part because I had a very generous scholarship. I only needed Stafford loans to get through school.

Final thoughts -
1) DO YOU WANT TO BE A LAWYER? You really cannot move forward until you make a reasonably-informed decision about this question. RESEARCH IS KEY. Talk to as many lawyers as you can - ask them what they do all day, ask them if they are happy, find out what their backstory is (were they right out of school? is this their second career? would they do it again), ask them if they think there are certain skill sets that you could transfer from your old career, explore whether there are areas of the law that peak your interest. If possible, spend a day or two shadowing an attorney (I spent a week shadowing a family law attorney friend of mine - I am not going into family law, but it was the single most helpful thing that I did when I was deciding.) READ READ READ about law - can you stomach reading cases and law for three years?

2) As you do research on whether or not this is for you, you need to do a cost-benefit analysis. You literally have to crunch the numbers to see if going to law school 1) is even feasible given your current income, family situation, and law school costs (including whether or not it might be easier to go to school full time and shave off a year of schooling), and 2) will be profitable and make your life better once you graduate. I had determined that with my scholarship, I would be able to take a $50,000 salary if necessary, and still come out on top PLUS be entirely happy in my work, so that made it worthwhile for me. Had I been forced to pay full tuition, I'm not sure if I would be here posting this today.

I hope this helped. Good luck.

vercingetorix

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Re: law school for late bloomers
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2008, 05:47:10 PM »
the lsat blows for everyone.  aesthetically it is an awful exam.  you will never talk about it once you get into law school. do your best but don't waste another breath on it once you've taken it. 

i was out of school for 12 years (i was a military aviator).  school is awesome.  law school is not hard.  oh it takes time, but conceptually it is not difficult.  most people who complain about how much law school sucks have never worked (besides the obligatory one or two year b.s. job to pad the resume) or they are in law school to postpone reality.  learning is a blast. a lot of the buzz about how difficult law school is comes down to hype.  treat it like a 9 to 5 job, be disciplined and you'll do great things.

you will be floored by how immature many of your peers are.  it's not a slam, it's just the way we all were at 23 or 24.  this will make developing friendships more difficult.  although i have many acquaintances, most of my friends are fellow non-trads.

i was interested in being a prosecutor when i started.  this summer i have a job with DOJ working in criminal appeals.  if i like it, it's probably what i will aim for upon graduation.  in the long term i am interested in politics/speechwriting/lobbying.  there is so much you can do with a law degree besides big box firm b.s.  most of your peers will worry themselves miserable about earning the privilege to slave away at a massive firm for 80 hours a week so a partner can decided between tan and cream leather in his new 7 series.  your perspective and your contacts will make you realize that this probably isn't the path to wealth and success.

i think this is a great degree to get your foot into the door in a lot of places that might not consider you otherwise.  oh and you learn a lot of practical stuff along the way.  if you see it as a means to an end i think it's a real winner.

good luck




imagurl

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Re: law school for late bloomers
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2008, 07:46:08 PM »
I just wanted to thank uh.huh and vercingetorix for their posts.  You guys offered a fresh perspective, and it is great to hear from some people who are not very recent college grads.  Very much appreciated!

PSUDSL08

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Re: law school for late bloomers
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2008, 11:38:57 PM »
Law school should not be a way out just because your current career is boring.  Practicing law itself is BORING.  It's not glamorous for the most part.  Instead, I think the attorneys who really get are satisfied with their jobs are those who either pursue a CAUSE they are interested in or are simply interested and passionate about the law and how it develops.

Many attorneys have neither, and there are those that just plod along (and probably would describe their job as you described yours), or those who actively hate it.

I agree. perhaps I should've worded that differently. practicing law appeals to me because I like the idea of helping others, or making a difference in someone's life. but, people do change. I've talked to people that were passionate about law when they first became lawyers but just like any other job it slowly started to wear them down. I guess it's all a state of mind.

I'm only 26, but I have to agree with Jacy here. Assuming that you have one or more children and need to take out a good chunk of financial aid to cover your expenses, I think this is a huge financial risk more than anything. If you really want to make a difference in someone's life, you could find one of several alternatives careers or possibly pursue a different graduate degree (grad school of public service, social work, etc) towards that end that is less strenuous and expensive (provided you work throughout school) than law school. It's never too late to pursue a career you truly want...but the older students I studied with had specific legal careers in mind: 33 year old chem PHD looking to do patent work, 31 year old looking to take over father's practice, 28 year old with state govt experience looking to become a lobbyist. Without a specific legal career in mind, you might very well be $50K or more in debt only to realize that practicing law, even as a prosecutor/PD/public interest lawyer isn't what you really want.

From an academic standpoint, the older students generally had better grades than those fresh out of college. They generally studied harder and were more focused considering they didn't treat school as merely an extension of undergrad. Also agree with the poster who said law school is a lot like high school. You'll have to deal with a good chunk of younger, arrogant primadonnas...but ultimately you won't be there to make friends but to obtain a professional degree and the career options that come with it.

Ultimately, it couldn't hurt to take the LSAT and see what type of options it will give you. You might very well earn a full or partial scholarship to a school in your area. I'd just be cautious about committing yourself to $500+ per month loan payments at age 39 on a general theory that a career as a lawyer will be more satisfying. Wish you the best of luck in your decision