Law School Discussion

Specific Groups => Minority and Non-Traditional Law Students => Topic started by: Avenue on August 02, 2010, 01:09:05 PM

Title: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: Avenue on August 02, 2010, 01:09:05 PM
ok about me, im 37, single, former wall streeter who quit the biz a little over 3 years ago. mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer shortly after i left work, so ive spent the last 3 years going to chemo and doctor appointments. in that time we all know what happened to the jobs on wall street (though i hear theyre starting to come back). anyway, my mom passed away 3 weeks ago  :'(  and now im at a crossroads...go back to finance or head off to law school?
i have no doubt about getting into law school, i finished undergrad in 3 years with a 3.97gpa in my major, and i worked for one of the best wall street firms out there. nor do i worry about the debt, heck ive had zero income for the last 3 years...somebody out there is bound to give me a scholarship   :P
now get this, i dont find law particularly attractive, i dont care for shows like LA Law, and have no desire to work at a big firm (trust me, we hired a few people from cravath swaine & moore and sullivan & cromwell, and they told me all the horror stories about working at places like that), but i just want a stable career (which means, NOT wall street), where i can set my own hours (ie; private practice...after 10 years of 12+ hour days, i now value quality of life more than obscene amounts of money, and if i am gonna work 12 hour days, its gonna be for myself, and not da' man!  :) ), and make a decent living.
so am i nuts to think of law? yeah i know, im grieving right now and under a lot of stress, so i'll continue to decide what to do...just want to hear peoples thoughts. and oh yeah, after 3+ years away from wall street, getting a job will not be easy. oh dear  ???

thanks very much

PS; my moms doctors had told me to seriously think of med school cause they think id make a great doctor...but even i know that at my age thats completely out of the question. wish i had thought of that 10 years ago !!!!! hahaha
Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: Hamilton on August 03, 2010, 06:54:25 AM
I am sorry for your loss.

I went to LS at about 37 while enjoying a succesfull career.  I mainly finished law school b/c it helped with my current career, I was getting a great scholarship, and I wanted to finish what I started - not out of some passion for law.  Intellectually it was an interesting experience, but the prospect of actually practicing as an attorney became very unappealing to me given my current professional situation.  Given the option, I would not do it over again.  When we were in our mid-20s and burning to get ahead in the world we actually enjoyed putting in prutal hours on thankless work so we could climb the ladder.  When I graduated law school in my early 40s I though 'I have already paid my dues once, no way am I going to go back to the bottom, put in 70+ hours a week on low-tier tasks, and do it eagerly with a smile on my face while competing with people half my age whom I have little in common with.'  In LS at 37 you are something of an outsider - think what it will be like at a firm reporting to partners 10 years younger than you.

If you worked at a top Wall Street firm, my guess is that you do not do things [email protected]$$ed.  LS is a big time commitment and a lot of hard work if you want to be in the top % of your class.  If you want to do it for intellectual stimulation - go for it.  But why pursue something that does not light a fire in your belly?  Do some research, there are a ton or articles and web sites regarding the over-supply of lawyers, unemployment in the field, and increasing trend in the number of JDs.  Why become a part of this mess?

Instead of law, why not think about a career that truly intests you and actually benefits society?  Build upon what you already have and get back in the game.  Getting back into Wall Street after 3 years off will be a lot easier than getting into law by way of law school started at 37.   
Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: Avenue on August 03, 2010, 01:11:04 PM
thanks guy, i appreciate your thoughtful replies.
gonna take a month long vaca in europe soon so i'll think long and hard about whats next.

many thanks!!!
Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: Hamilton on August 04, 2010, 06:54:07 AM
Good luck.  Life is too short to be doing something you do not truly love.

thanks guy, i appreciate your thoughtful replies.
gonna take a month long vaca in europe soon so i'll think long and hard about whats next.

many thanks!!!
Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: hereIgoagain on August 18, 2010, 10:58:03 PM
Sorry for your loss.

I started law school in my 30's after a successful career in the business world. It was always my dream to go to law school.
You have to be very passionate about this field to really justify adjusting living like a student again, studying late night when everyone is out having a good time, being talked down to by a professor and having your normal life halted while everyone else your age is moving forward. For me it was worth it because it was my dream and I have loved every minute of it.

Best of luck to you and follow your heart.

Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: tryinLawSchool on September 13, 2010, 11:05:18 AM
ok about me, im 37, single, former wall streeter who quit the biz a little over 3 years ago. mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer shortly after i left work, so ive spent the last 3 years going to chemo and doctor appointments. in that time we all know what happened to the jobs on wall street (though i hear theyre starting to come back). anyway, my mom passed away 3 weeks ago  :'(  and now im at a crossroads...go back to finance or head off to law school?
i have no doubt about getting into law school, i finished undergrad in 3 years with a 3.97gpa in my major, and i worked for one of the best wall street firms out there. nor do i worry about the debt, heck ive had zero income for the last 3 years...somebody out there is bound to give me a scholarship   :P
now get this, i dont find law particularly attractive, i dont care for shows like LA Law, and have no desire to work at a big firm (trust me, we hired a few people from cravath swaine & moore and sullivan & cromwell, and they told me all the horror stories about working at places like that), but i just want a stable career (which means, NOT wall street), where i can set my own hours (ie; private practice...after 10 years of 12+ hour days, i now value quality of life more than obscene amounts of money, and if i am gonna work 12 hour days, its gonna be for myself, and not da' man!  :) ), and make a decent living.
so am i nuts to think of law? yeah i know, im grieving right now and under a lot of stress, so i'll continue to decide what to do...just want to hear peoples thoughts. and oh yeah, after 3+ years away from wall street, getting a job will not be easy. oh dear  ???

thanks very much

PS; my moms doctors had told me to seriously think of med school cause they think id make a great doctor...but even i know that at my age thats completely out of the question. wish i had thought of that 10 years ago !!!!! hahaha

I'll be just turning 36 when I graduate with my Bach, and 39 when I graduate from Law school. So I say go for it! If it is what you want, especially after you have been through, go for it!!!
Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: MeganEW on September 13, 2010, 12:38:29 PM
I'm sorry for your loss.  :(

I'm not sure law is going to get you where you want to be, though, from a quality of life perspective.  I'm a mere applicant as well, but I worked in support staff roles at an investment bank and a BigLaw firm.  Associates in BigLaw work hours similar to analysts for similar pay (though higher salary / lower bonus), only they have professional degrees.  BigLaw partners are typically the highest paid attorneys, and they often make less than directors at investment banks.
I know you're not interested in BigLaw.  I'm also the daughter of an attorney.  Highly respected by his peers, my father's salary topped out at $90k as Chief Deputy Prosecutor and $115k as a judge.  That's after 20+ years of practicing, though in a LCOL area.  His highest salary, though, is likely lower than you made your first year on Wall St.  He definitely was home more than the young associates in BigLaw, but he still regularly worked 10+ hour days (not to mention the work he'd do at home).
I imagine the salary for small law is somewhere in between my dad's and BigLaw.  Hopefully some attorneys in smaller firms can pop in with ballpark figures in terms of hours and pay.

Ultimately, I don't really see law as a high quality of life type of career.  I'm pursuing it because I'm a total law dork and want to make it official, but if I was smart, I'd stay in my current field.  I'm at a Fortune 500 retailer.  The pay is good, there's room for growth, and it is truly a 40 hr/week job, even at the director level.  With your experience, this would be a logical step for you.

Good luck! :)
Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: megee333 on September 24, 2010, 08:02:38 AM
Hi,

I just turned 40 last week and after 10+ years in IT anything will be better!

What I feel about law is that it interests me quite strongly, maybe no burning passion but then what job really does that?

I`m doing the PT 4 year route starting Fall 2011, so a long road but a career that I`ll do for another 30 years ..

Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: MEMEMEME on September 24, 2010, 08:32:06 AM
I am 25 and my mother died in July of cancer and I am prepping for the LSAT through the grieving process, etc. HOWEVER, I have always wanted to go to law school and I think at the very very least you should wait until you clear your head more before you decide if you want to take out tens of thousands or more in debt at 37. Plus, if you don't find it very interesting, think about it...you either have to live solely on student loans OR work and go to school and your life will be HECTIC even with a part-time program. And if you're studying something that you don't like a lot and are busy as hell, your life will feel like hell for a few years, in my opinion. It doesn't sound like it's a good match for you. Money is nice, but I intend on doing a four year program and am dreading being at youngest 40 before it's all gone unless I make it big somehow and can just dish out the loan repayment. You're 37 and you don't even like law. PLUS, law isn't like it used to be. Sure, it pays a decent salary but expect that you could make in the 50's or 60's for a long time, possibly forever. It's much more likely these days to stay at that salary than ever make 100K plus..AND Don't assume you will get a scholarship because you don't have any resources and had a 3.97 GPA. What if you bombed the LSAT? No money. You might get in, but NO MONEY. And, remember how broke all of the "traditional" students are nowadays? Well, that's my two cents and sorry for your loss, I know how it feels. I loved my mother very much too. The only reason I am gambling with law school (which is a huge gamble) is because I already have worked in law as a paralegal and know what it is and have desired to be a lawyer since age 10. I don't know what you like, but if you want a solid career with possible scholarships, etc. you should become an accountant or study computers. Healthcare and engineering are also in need but I don't know how much you want to start over with your education or what skill sets you have or if you were a broker/financial advisor or investor. If you were a financial advisor, perhaps you should consider being a compliance person for brokerage firms and subsequently an expert on securities law suits. No law school debt or time burden required.
Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: louiebstef on September 24, 2010, 07:11:44 PM
I am 25 and my mother died in July of cancer and I am prepping for the LSAT through the grieving process, etc. HOWEVER, I have always wanted to go to law school and I think at the very very least you should wait until you clear your head more before you decide if you want to take out tens of thousands or more in debt at 37. Plus, if you don't find it very interesting, think about it...you either have to live solely on student loans OR work and go to school and your life will be HECTIC even with a part-time program. And if you're studying something that you don't like a lot and are busy as hell, your life will feel like hell for a few years, in my opinion. It doesn't sound like it's a good match for you. Money is nice, but I intend on doing a four year program and am dreading being at youngest 40 before it's all gone unless I make it big somehow and can just dish out the loan repayment. You're 37 and you don't even like law. PLUS, law isn't like it used to be. Sure, it pays a decent salary but expect that you could make in the 50's or 60's for a long time, possibly forever. It's much more likely these days to stay at that salary than ever make 100K plus..AND Don't assume you will get a scholarship because you don't have any resources and had a 3.97 GPA. What if you bombed the LSAT? No money. You might get in, but NO MONEY. And, remember how broke all of the "traditional" students are nowadays? Well, that's my two cents and sorry for your loss, I know how it feels. I loved my mother very much too. The only reason I am gambling with law school (which is a huge gamble) is because I already have worked in law as a paralegal and know what it is and have desired to be a lawyer since age 10. I don't know what you like, but if you want a solid career with possible scholarships, etc. you should become an accountant or study computers. Healthcare and engineering are also in need but I don't know how much you want to start over with your education or what skill sets you have or if you were a broker/financial advisor or investor. If you were a financial advisor, perhaps you should consider being a compliance person for brokerage firms and subsequently an expert on securities law suits. No law school debt or time burden required.

MEGEE333,

Re-read the post above.  I totally agree with MEMEME.  I am a (newly minted) paralegal headed to LS because it is what I have always wanted to do.  In fact, I was already making in the 60's as a middle manager and am quite aware that will be close to what I'll probably make as an attorney.  The point, you don't care as much if you LOVE what you do.

Without that passion, PLEASE listen to MEMEME and wait and think before wasting time, effort and money on something that is not your passion.  Please take my advice.  I am a retired naval officer, 46 years old.  I wouldn't steer you wrong and none of us are patronizing you.  Best wishes in whatever endeavor you choose.
Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: Hamilton on September 24, 2010, 08:46:51 PM
Think hard about doing this, research the job prospects, and look at your financial situation.  I had similar thoughts, went to LS at 38, finished near top of class, passed bar, and did not go into practice.  Difficult for non-trads to break into the field if not willing to take a big step back in salary.  Plus, at 45 are you really going to be prepared to start at the bottom (IF you can even find a job) and compete with people half your age working 70 to 80 hours a week?  I would hate to see someone throw away $100K+ to enrich a law school, sink themselves financially, and be unable to land a job.

Hi,

I just turned 40 last week and after 10+ years in IT anything will be better!

What I feel about law is that it interests me quite strongly, maybe no burning passion but then what job really does that?

I`m doing the PT 4 year route starting Fall 2011, so a long road but a career that I`ll do for another 30 years ..
Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: megee333 on September 25, 2010, 08:57:13 AM
Thanks for the advice and I do herald it BUT not everyone has a passion for their work, that`s a fact, hell I worked in IT for years and I hated it but the money was good.
We are all different and I feel empowered by the fact that I like law and not that I have a passion for it (yet); I like the tempered feeling versus the manic love/hate.

That said, I start a job on Monday as a legal assistant ($10ph!), so that should definitely shed some light for me.
Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: louiebstef on September 25, 2010, 07:11:42 PM
Good.  The legal assistant position will give you better insight.  Hopefully you're working for a small firm and not necessarily doing transactional stuff.
Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: MeganEW on September 26, 2010, 06:02:47 AM
Good.  The legal assistant position will give you better insight.  Hopefully you're working for a small firm and not necessarily doing transactional stuff.
? Why's that?
Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: louiebstef on September 26, 2010, 06:49:58 AM
Megan,

Anything too specialized as a legal assistant wouldn't necessarily give him a broad view of the legal field.  I was thinking of sitting in the basement of a dirt law firm doing title searches, for example.

A smaller firm (but not a boutique firm) may give him a wider range of tasks and areas to observe.  If he were to do general scheduling, file management, preparing motions, etc., the view would be broad.  In other words, absent him having an interest in a specific field, like patent, bankruptcy, etc, broader is better.

The tedium is there no matter WHERE you go in the field.  He'll be exposed to that anyway.

Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: MeganEW on September 26, 2010, 07:59:26 AM
Megan,

Anything too specialized as a legal assistant wouldn't necessarily give him a broad view of the legal field.  I was thinking of sitting in the basement of a dirt law firm doing title searches, for example.

A smaller firm (but not a boutique firm) may give him a wider range of tasks and areas to observe.  If he were to do general scheduling, file management, preparing motions, etc., the view would be broad.  In other words, absent him having an interest in a specific field, like patent, bankruptcy, etc, broader is better.

The tedium is there no matter WHERE you go in the field.  He'll be exposed to that anyway.
Ah, I see what you're saying. :)  The bulk of my experience has been at a big firm supporting the corporate transactional practice, so I was curious why that might be inadequate.

I agree a broad exposure is ideal, but I'm not sure the size of the firm really matters so much as the structure.  My first role at the big firm exposed me to tax, restructuring and IP litigation in addition to transactional law, while I imagine many small firms are highly specialized and thereby offer a very limited scope.

Regardless, congrats on the job, megee333 (though I bet that's quite a paycut for you! ;)); I hope it helps you determine which direction you'd like to go.
Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: P.H.M. on March 19, 2011, 02:26:44 PM
I went to law school in the mid west in 2007  (from NYC) to my first choice, a Top 100 school. I was unprepared for the academic program involved and began experiencing severe anxiety towards the end of my first semester due to the pressure of family obligations 2000 miles away and returning to school at a fairly advanced age (39). I was given the bad advice by a teaching assistant to proceed with my finals because "no one gets below a 'C' with the curve;" my grades were: B, D-, and an F. I took a medical leave of absence to have the symptoms of anxiety and depression I was experiencing evaluated and treated by university medical professionals. I returned the following Fall semester to repeat the classes, and found myself unable to balance work, and school, and still a little bit rattled by having receiving the poorest grades of my lifetime in my first semester. With the loneliness I was feeling, symptoms of depression, and concern about not being able to work as a part-time student in the prime earning years of my life, I withdrew from school. Two months later, I immediately regretted the decision, and was re-admitted for the third time to retake the first semester already $30,000.00 in debt. My third semester was somewhat of a success however I made two critical mistakes: I did NOT take practice exams in preparation for two finals, and handed a paper that represented 60% of my grade late by twelve hours; I ended up with a B-, C, and C this time around. The anxiety of being on academic probation and having little margin for error eventually resulted in more severe health problems for myself, an inability to concentrate, pressure from my family and friends, a decreased and weakened confidence in myself, and I eventually withdrew from law school altogether, $79,000.00 in debt. I will always regret having quit, even with the mounting debt, and not securing the J.D., and not having found a way to enhance my mental fortitude, find the right help and resources and the right mindset and support system to get the job done. I am now faced with trying to explain to my family and friends what went wrong, address psychological issues I never experienced before attending law school, and returning to a career I have been absent from for three years without being able to explain why I went to law school and did not work for three years and do not have a law degree to show for it. If I had to do it all over again, I would have went to a Tier Three school and a little more relaxed environment for someone my age - the first year is the toughest and if I was successful I could transfer; otherwise I could remain in the Third Tier School and earn one of the most coveted of graduate degrees: a J.D. Think carefully about yourself, especially if you have been out of school for sometime, about what you are capable of, and what this degree might mean to you. I now dread turning 55 without a professional degree, and not a minute goes by that I do not wish I knew in 2007 what I know now; as of today, the law school experience, while providing some of the fondest memories of my life, has in many ways ruined my life. A law school curriculum, particularly for non-conventional students, should be designed to give such students every possible chance for success (e.g., three exams per class in the first semester, not one final and an automatic dismissal for students with a G.P.A. of 2.20 or less).
Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: legalized on March 24, 2011, 05:08:41 AM
I went to law school in the mid west in 2007  (from NYC) to my first choice, a Top 100 school. I was unprepared for the academic program involved and began experiencing severe anxiety towards the end of my first semester due to the pressure of family obligations 2000 miles away and returning to school at a fairly advanced age (39). I was given the bad advice by a teaching assistant to proceed with my finals because "no one gets below a 'C' with the curve;" my grades were: B, D-, and an F. I took a medical leave of absence to have the symptoms of anxiety and depression I was experiencing evaluated and treated by university medical professionals. I returned the following Fall semester to repeat the classes, and found myself unable to balance work, and school, and still a little bit rattled by having receiving the poorest grades of my lifetime in my first semester. With the loneliness I was feeling, symptoms of depression, and concern about not being able to work as a part-time student in the prime earning years of my life, I withdrew from school. Two months later, I immediately regretted the decision, and was re-admitted for the third time to retake the first semester already $30,000.00 in debt. My third semester was somewhat of a success however I made two critical mistakes: I did NOT take practice exams in preparation for two finals, and handed a paper that represented 60% of my grade late by twelve hours; I ended up with a B-, C, and C this time around. The anxiety of being on academic probation and having little margin for error eventually resulted in more severe health problems for myself, an inability to concentrate, pressure from my family and friends, a decreased and weakened confidence in myself, and I eventually withdrew from law school altogether, $79,000.00 in debt. I will always regret having quit, even with the mounting debt, and not securing the J.D., and not having found a way to enhance my mental fortitude, find the right help and resources and the right mindset and support system to get the job done. I am now faced with trying to explain to my family and friends what went wrong, address psychological issues I never experienced before attending law school, and returning to a career I have been absent from for three years without being able to explain why I went to law school and did not work for three years and do not have a law degree to show for it. If I had to do it all over again, I would have went to a Tier Three school and a little more relaxed environment for someone my age - the first year is the toughest and if I was successful I could transfer; otherwise I could remain in the Third Tier School and earn one of the most coveted of graduate degrees: a J.D. Think carefully about yourself, especially if you have been out of school for sometime, about what you are capable of, and what this degree might mean to you. I now dread turning 55 without a professional degree, and not a minute goes by that I do not wish I knew in 2007 what I know now; as of today, the law school experience, while providing some of the fondest memories of my life, has in many ways ruined my life. A law school curriculum, particularly for non-conventional students, should be designed to give such students every possible chance for success (e.g., three exams per class in the first semester, not one final and an automatic dismissal for students with a G.P.A. of 2.20 or less).

wow...this post is SCARY.

And makes the case for (if possible to do and still pass your classes) hanging on to a continuous work history in case things don't work out...of course there's always temp agencies to get your foot back in the door after a long absence!
Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: megee333 on May 07, 2011, 01:42:30 PM
hi, I just wanted to add a later thought to this discussion.

I have now been reading a lot about law and law school and guess what? I love it!

I am now massively excited and keen to start in the Fall. Law, for me, is a fascinating topic, most particularly compared to IT. It is real-life situations about real cases (and hypo's), which, to me, is like being in the multitude of law shows currently on TV and I am not being flippant or media-excited.

For me, law is so interesting because it addresses plenty of issues I, as a older person (40), have personally experienced and battled with my whole life, e.g. property law - rental/purchase contracts; why did OJ get off?; why are some things admissable or not?; why can companies do such and such? why? why?

as they say - education is wasted on the young.
Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: john4040 on May 09, 2011, 06:37:51 AM
It is real-life situations about real cases (and hypo's), which, to me, is like being in the multitude of law shows currently on TV and I am not being flippant or media-excited.

Lol... what?   ???
Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: disabilitylaw on May 12, 2011, 08:18:32 PM
Did you say you're not interested in law?
Then why the heck are you even thinking about law school?
As for the debt, it's HUGE.

Unless you're flat-out rich and bored and want to go to law school for the hell of it, you're better off not going.
Title: Re: 37 and thinking about law school....
Post by: oceanblue on June 12, 2011, 05:06:05 PM
I was a Finance major in college, worked in accounting a long time.  I got sick and haven't worked regularly in eight years.  I could care less about ever working with numbers again.  I have always been interested in helping people, especially those who got something they didn't deserve.  There are so many people that need help.  The field of eldercare is constantly growing it doesn't constantly have to be about big business.  I am still searching like you, I am 34.  I don't know if I can do it, but I'm gonna try.