I have worked as a nonprofit grantwriter for several years, and prior to that I was in education - both school and community. I received my undergraduate degree in Community Health Ed from a large, midwestern state school and relocated to Florida permanently after completing an internship here.
Inspired by personal interests as well as my professional experience in a domestic abuse shelter and counseling facility, my aspiration is to complete legal studies and practice family law.
I am aware that my age (30) will be dissimilar to that of most of my classmates, which bothers me but not terribly so. Certainly not enough to discourage me from attending. Primarily, my consideration of this issue simply makes me wish I would have reached this point in my life/career five years ago, but hindsight is 20/20.
I am also aware of the amount of debt I will incur, particularly since my intention is to leave the workforce to attend school fulltime. Fortunately, I am single, have no children, and rent rather than own my home; thus I am positioned a bit differently than many "nontraditional" students. Further facilitating this transition is the fact that my jobs in education and the nonprofit sector have never afforded me a very comfortable lifestyle (part of the reason I've decided to further my education and make a career change). It's easier to accept being a broke student for a few years, when you've been a broke professional.
My concerns are primarily over the odds of my acceptance at a decent school, my best course of action for the next year and a half, and how able I will likely be to repay student debt and make a decent living if I choose to practice family law in Florida or Georgia.
As far as acceptance goes, like many others, I was a bit "lost" my first two years of undergrad and my GPA reflected it. I left my university for a year, attended community college and worked, then gained readmission and declared my major and minor. My final 60 hours reflected an improvement and I earned several departmental awards and held leadership positions, but I still graduated with a 2.91 cumulative GPA. I plan to take the LSAT in June, and plan to prepare well for it. My concern is that even I am able to secure a high LSAT score, is my GPA simply too low for any first or second tier school to consider?
My course of action: I have applied to several marriage and family therapy graduate programs for Fall, 2010 admission. My intention with this was two-fold - first, I thought that successful, high-scoring graduate coursework might aid my chances for gaining admission to a better law school. I am reading conflicting opinions on whether or not graduate performance is even considered, though.....
Second, in my current position, I have come to the conclusion that family/domestic law attorneys would benefit from having a foundation, or at least some coursework in MFT. Since I began seriously considering law school too late to adequately prepare for the February LSAT (eliminating the possibility of 2010 admission), I decided that beginning classes towards a master's in MFT while awaiting law school admission could prove beneficial. I have not yet decided whether I will complete the master's if I gain acceptance to law school, but I have come across a few dual-degree programs that would make that option slightly more feasible/attractive as far as time and money are concerned.
And, finally, family law: From my research, I have discovered a few common themes. First, if I attend law school in Florida or Georgia, which I'd like to do, it is highly unlikely that I will be able to secure a job anywhere outside of these two states. Second, most medium and large law firms don't house family law divisions, meaning that I'd be restricted to private practice or joining a small firm. Meaning potentially limited opportunities and lower salaries.
Any advice/guidance/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.....