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Author Topic: Military Retirement to Law School Transition  (Read 3885 times)

wjo9522

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Military Retirement to Law School Transition
« on: September 19, 2010, 03:33:10 PM »
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am working on a short term plan which is based on my retirement from the Marine Corps in late 2015.  I'll have 22 years of service at that point and look forward to drawing a small pension from Uncle Sam.  I'll be 40 years old in December 2015, but I think that is a great time to begin a new career in law.  Thanks to the dialogue of all of those nontraditional students who have gone before me, I have no fear in taking on this challenge. 

Just a couple questions:

1.  Since I have a few years to go before I become a 1L, what kinds of publications or courses should I be focused on now?  My undergrad was Criminology and Criminal Justice,  but I can see myself continuing to serve in public interest or environmental law. 

2.  Can someone recommend a Masters program or course of study that would give me a good foundation for law school? 

3.  If I retire in December and the 1L program does not begin until August, what are some options to gain legal experience in the "off time"? 

4.  I qualify for the Illinois Veteran's Grant for 120 SH of free tuition in any Illinois State funded university.  Add in the monthly GI Bill Benefit and I should be looking at leaving Law School with zero school debt.  (Dave Ramsey would love that.)  Currently looking at SIUC, U of I, then NIU.  I don't care about tiers and rankings at this point, just looking for the best quality of life for my family and the most indepth clinical experience.  Any ideas from the group on personal experiences at each university?   

5.  How is the job outlook for a 44 year old law grad with military service?  I'm not looking for special entitlements, but GPA and class standing aside, does that service count for anything?

Okay, so I have asked more than a few questions and I will appreciate any response provided.  Thank you for your time and assistance.

Regards,

William
William J. Orr
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US Marine Corps-Active
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marcus-aurelius

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Re: Military Retirement to Law School Transition
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2010, 04:40:18 PM »
I can only speak to number 3.  If you want to gain some law experience, call your local public defender/prosecutor's office.  They are always looking for help for citizens of the county.

Tanrael

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Re: Military Retirement to Law School Transition
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2010, 03:38:02 PM »
I am looking to do pretty much the same thing, although I am Air Force and haven't finished my undergrad yet.  Switched from Physics to Criminal Justice due to ops tempo making it impossible to attend class.  Sadly I am not smart enough for hard science online.  :-p

Anyways.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am working on a short term plan which is based on my retirement from the Marine Corps in late 2015.  I'll have 22 years of service at that point and look forward to drawing a small pension from Uncle Sam.  I'll be 40 years old in December 2015, but I think that is a great time to begin a new career in law.  Thanks to the dialogue of all of those nontraditional students who have gone before me, I have no fear in taking on this challenge. 

Just a couple questions:

1.  Since I have a few years to go before I become a 1L, what kinds of publications or courses should I be focused on now?  My undergrad was Criminology and Criminal Justice,  but I can see myself continuing to serve in public interest or environmental law.



I have read that spending some time on economics and basic legal terms isn't a bad way to go.

Quote
2.  Can someone recommend a Masters program or course of study that would give me a good foundation for law school? 

No idea.

Quote
3.  If I retire in December and the 1L program does not begin until August, what are some options to gain legal experience in the "off time"? 

I am definitely curious about why you want to retire in December.  In the Air Force if I retire in Decemeber, I would have to start terminal and outprocessing as much as 8 months prior to that.  Short of an active duty service commitment, wouldn't it be better to start the process in January?  By then if you applied early, you should have the information on what school you are actually going to attend.

I am counting on having the military move my family and I to wherever I end up going to school and I am going to try to time it so that I have a full paycheck for as long as possible.  There is very little chance of finding work for 6 to 8 months with benefits that comes close to a military paycheck.

Quote
4.  I qualify for the Illinois Veteran's Grant for 120 SH of free tuition in any Illinois State funded university.  Add in the monthly GI Bill Benefit and I should be looking at leaving Law School with zero school debt.  (Dave Ramsey would love that.)  Currently looking at SIUC, U of I, then NIU.  I don't care about tiers and rankings at this point, just looking for the best quality of life for my family and the most indepth clinical experience.  Any ideas from the group on personal experiences at each university?   

Do you still have you GI Bill benefits.  With the yellow ribbon program it might be worth looking at schools outside of Illinois.  Some of them end up being a full ride.  I am hopeful that those programs plus retirement will be enough to get me through law school with little or no debt and none of the scholarship worries that a lot of other students face.

Quote
5.  How is the job outlook for a 44 year old law grad with military service?  I'm not looking for special entitlements, but GPA and class standing aside, does that service count for anything?

If you find out anything on this front let me know!

Quote
Okay, so I have asked more than a few questions and I will appreciate any response provided.  Thank you for your time and assistance.

Regards,

William

wjo9522

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Re: Military Retirement to Law School Transition
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2010, 10:59:19 PM »
I am looking to do pretty much the same thing, although I am Air Force and haven't finished my undergrad yet.  Switched from Physics to Criminal Justice due to ops tempo making it impossible to attend class.  Sadly I am not smart enough for hard science online.  :-p

Anyways.


I understand the OPTEMPO and that will probably be my reason for retiring as soon as I am eligible.  3 x Iraq and 2 x Afghanistan with a family and four young children at home is getting to be a little difficult to justify.  I took a Warrant Officer appointment and a subsequent commission which allowed me to finish undergrad, but I owe time on the back end of that deal.  It was worth it to me, since I had been trying to do a class here and a class there since 1996.   


I am definitely curious about why you want to retire in December.  In the Air Force if I retire in Decemeber, I would have to start terminal and outprocessing as much as 8 months prior to that.  Short of an active duty service commitment, wouldn't it be better to start the process in January?  By then if you applied early, you should have the information on what school you are actually going to attend.

I am counting on having the military move my family and I to wherever I end up going to school and I am going to try to time it so that I have a full paycheck for as long as possible.  There is very little chance of finding work for 6 to 8 months with benefits that comes close to a military paycheck.


You make a very good point here.  My only issue will be what deployments I'll be looking at around that time.  If I am looking at another 1 yr stint in AFG, I'm punching out as soon as I can.  Otherwise, I would consider the same plan.  Thanks for the advice.


Do you still have you GI Bill benefits.  With the yellow ribbon program it might be worth looking at schools outside of Illinois.  Some of them end up being a full ride.  I am hopeful that those programs plus retirement will be enough to get me through law school with little or no debt and none of the scholarship worries that a lot of other students face.


I plan to supplement my retirement and IVG with the full time GI Bill rate.  Under the Montgomery (Not Post 9-11) plan, I'll get the full rate plus the buy-up.  I hadn't really considered schools outside Illinois, primarily based upon the IVG.  I'll have to look into the yellow ribbon program, but I'd have to see if converting my remaining benefit (22 Months) to Post 9-11 will be beneficial.
William J. Orr
Chief Warrant Officer
US Marine Corps-Active
1993-2015
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Tanrael

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Re: Military Retirement to Law School Transition
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2010, 08:29:32 AM »
I feel ya on the deployments.  I am doing a 1 year remote right now to have enough stability at home to finish out to 20.  I am still probably going to spend 12 to 18 months out of the next 4 years deployed.  Going to be hell getting my degree done and maintaining my GPA.

louiebstef

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Re: Military Retirement to Law School Transition
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2010, 01:12:32 AM »
Wjo,

We're TWINS. LOL!

I'm a retired navy CWO4.  I retired back in 2006 with 22 years.  After spending a few years in upper middle management in the corporate jungle, i realized that I should just go on and pursue my long-held dream of practicing the law.

I earned my first degree back in the early 90s, and it was built on a foundation of really CRAPPY grades I got long before I joined the military.
Realizing that booosting my GPA would be a good thing, I went back to school to earn a BAS in Paralegal Studies at an ABA accredited program.  it has been a great entree to the law and has taught legal topics from a practical perspective.

I am currently working as an intern on a state regulatory/rules making project.  I will graduate, take the LSAT and apply for LS next year.

The deal for ALL of us non-trad folks (i.e. over age 40) is to keep debt to an absolute minimum.  You have the best deal in Illinois that I've ever heard of.  Go for it!

Here in Florida, I actually have all my undergrad and one year of LS covered by VA, ch. 33.  Hopefully, I can post good enough numbers to get some $$.  I am currently carrying a 3.95 and my timed LSATs are varying between 166 and 171.  I am crossing my fingers.

Okay.  I was an RP, attended ITS, was assigned to 1st MARDIV back in the 80's, etc etc.  Made CPO and got my warrant in '94.

SEMPER FI!

Louie
"Why be a lawyer? I'm already an ass.  Might as well go professional!"

wjo9522

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Re: Military Retirement to Law School Transition
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2010, 09:07:56 AM »
Louie,

Thanks for the vote of confidence.  I started this career as a M1A1 Tank Crewman, did a stint as an Embassy Guard, and now I am a CBRN Defense Officer...gas, gas, gas!  Anyway, I am glad to see people with similar experiences to mine are pursing the same goals.  Your example only motivates me to push harder in this endeavor.  I think it would be very easy to talk yourself out of going through the pain of pursuing a J.D. after reading some of the posts on "LSD." 

I may follow your lead and look to the ABA for accredited Legal Studies program; distance ed.  Thanks for the insightful post.

Semper Fidelis,

Will
William J. Orr
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US Marine Corps-Active
1993-2015
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louiebstef

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Re: Military Retirement to Law School Transition
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2010, 09:22:42 AM »
Will,

Good to hear that Devil Dog motivation.  Don't listen to the naysayers here.  We are used to working our collective asses off for barely adequate pay. 
Stress? Pressure?  Lack of Security?  WAH!  Try having someone throw a few ROUNDS your way, right?

Every indicator I have gotten from my local attorneys is that if we non-trad military folks aim for a niche job, ignoring the stereotypical "BigLaw-Gimme Gimme" mentality (that many folks here have, sadly), we stand a very good chance of being competitive in the market.

Honestly, I have a paid internship now that is more like a clerkship.  It could very well develop into a job, post-JD.  Opportunities are everywhere, you just have to WORK for it.

A word of advice.  Like law school, the ABA will not accredit a totally online paralegal program.  Message me privately with your area and I'll see if I can find something for you. 

Semper Fi,

Louie
"Why be a lawyer? I'm already an ass.  Might as well go professional!"

Tanrael

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Re: Military Retirement to Law School Transition
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2010, 09:26:34 AM »
Will,

Good to hear that Devil Dog motivation.  Don't listen to the naysayers here.  We are used to working our collective asses off for barely adequate pay. 
Stress? Pressure?  Lack of Security?  WAH!  Try having someone throw a few ROUNDS your way, right?

Every indicator I have gotten from my local attorneys is that if we non-trad military folks aim for a niche job, ignoring the stereotypical "BigLaw-Gimme Gimme" mentality (that many folks here have, sadly), we stand a very good chance of being competitive in the market.

Honestly, I have a paid internship now that is more like a clerkship.  It could very well develop into a job, post-JD.  Opportunities are everywhere, you just have to WORK for it.

A word of advice.  Like law school, the ABA will not accredit a totally online paralegal program.  Message me privately with your area and I'll see if I can find something for you. 

Semper Fi,

Louie


I am with ya on the lower pay.  Honestly a job making 70 or 80k with no law school debt would be just fine.  Some of the places I am looking at working are about that range for what I am looking at doing to.  Good luck ya'll.

Thane Messinger

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Re: Military Retirement to Law School Transition
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2010, 02:39:46 AM »
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am working on a short term plan which is based on my retirement from the Marine Corps in late 2015.  I'll have 22 years of service at that point and look forward to drawing a small pension from Uncle Sam.  I'll be 40 years old in December 2015, but I think that is a great time to begin a new career in law.  Thanks to the dialogue of all of those nontraditional students who have gone before me, I have no fear in taking on this challenge. 

 * * *


For your service, sir, I would be happy to send you a copy of a certain book that might be helpful.  Send me your address via private message and I'll send a personal copy.

Fair points about jobs (answer: for the right employer, government or private, military service is a strong plus), and an excellent point about debt.  Education benefits are an essential part of the picture, and a huge advantage.

Thane.

PS:  This offer is fair for any other service members making the transition.