Law School Discussion

30 year old prospective applicant looking for advice.....

30 year old prospective applicant looking for advice.....
« on: February 23, 2010, 10:21:46 AM »
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.....     

Re: 30 year old prospective applicant looking for advice.....
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2010, 06:43:54 AM »
I am 30 and going to law school in the fall. Always dreamed of it, and now the opportunity came around, I am determined to follow it.

They will not care about MFT, unless you get Bs and Cs in it it, in which case it will be a huge minus.

Try to study the crap out of LSAT and do really well - many schools are LSAT whores and will admit you just because of LSAT.

Since you are not getting at biglaw - apply to a bunch of law schools and go to the one that would give you full ride (tuition plus living stipend). E.g. University of Tulsa may give you aid like this. Many T3 and T4 schools will do that for an LSAT >165.  But please dont plan to do well - you cant plan that *&^%, just bust your ass studying for it, while not overstadying, like me...

I say go for it.


Re: 30 year old prospective applicant looking for advice.....
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2010, 03:54:45 PM »
30 isn't non traditional.  Many schools have 27 as their average age.  Nationally it is around 26. 


Re: 30 year old prospective applicant looking for advice.....
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2010, 07:09:32 PM »
I don't think that the graduate degree will make much difference as far as improving your chances. I think that your ticket into a good Law School is the LSAT.

My undergrad GPA is lower that yours, much lower :( My LSAT was 170 and so far I've been accepted into T1, T2, T3 and T4 schools, several with a full ride (Including a T1), but I still haven't decided on a school.

I felt just like you do because of my low GPA, but it is definitely doable.

I recommend that you spread your applications.

Re: 30 year old prospective applicant looking for advice.....
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2010, 08:53:29 AM »
I'm 34 and anticipating on attending law school this fall! It's never too late! Good luck!

Re: 30 year old prospective applicant looking for advice.....
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2010, 01:54:45 PM »
I don't know anything about family law or practice, but there are quite a lot of late 20's/early 30's students at HLS (also plenty straight out of college).  Age composition can vary a lot from one school to another - UVA seems pretty tight (just from admit weekend observation), GULC and HLS have a wider spread. As far as I'm aware your age won't make any difference re acceptance one way or the other.  Concentrate on nailing the lsat for now, then worry about where you might end up.  I doubt that there's a lot of money to be made doing family law unless you work for the rich and famous so keeping debt levels low is probably wise.

In general graduate work or other programs won't help with admissions or be very relevant to most of what you'll study in law school. 

Re: 30 year old prospective applicant looking for advice.....
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2010, 09:03:15 PM »
I am an over 40 1L... And I am not the oldest. Our average age is around 30. AVERAGE~ We have young-uns' who are 22 and act 35... we have a couple of 35 year olds who act like they are 12... We even have a 60+ law student!

On more education...  Our 1L class has fewer than 10 with a Masters degree. In fact, my MEd meant so little, they did not care to receive the transcript. Often your school will offer a dual degree and your Masters work will count toward your J.D. degree... so I wish I had waited in many ways.

Invest in the best LSAT prep you can get and go for high scores and scholarships. That little extra you spend on a prep course will make a lot of difference. With the economy doing poorly, school has become a place for many to hide while figuring out what to do for a living! You are going to be in debt when you graduate. But, hopefully, if this is something you want... REALLY want, so the investment will be well worth it because you will be doing something you enjoy.

Good luck... and above all- DON'T LET AGE BE A FACTOR!!!