Part time JD - help me with answers, please.

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mks00007
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Part time JD - help me with answers, please.

Postby mks00007 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:05 pm

Stats: LSAT 162 & on re-take 166. UG GPA: 3.91. Grad GPA: 3.6 (though I know this doesn't matter). Age: 39. Employed in DE - need to stay employed to support family. I'm thinking of Temple and Widener (really, these are the only two close enough to me that offer a part time program).
Background: I've been captivated by the legal field for the last few years only and after a lot of thought, I have finally found enough motivation to pursue a J.D. (I'm especially attracted to the all-round exposure that a legal education provides) - want to make a career out of law. My current expertise (~14 years) is in Finance & IT - current job pays pretty decently, so am not in the fray just for money - though, of course, after slogging for 4 years, I'd hope to make at least better than current pay :D . Looking to specialize in Corporate Law / International Law which could (??) leverage my experience.
Questions:
1) Am I crazy at this age and this stage of my career/life to jump into this (my wife has been supportive - though, of course, I don't know if she'd continue to be supportive, given that she would have to take care of our naughty 3-year old all by herself (if I decided to go to school) :D ?
2) I know Widener is in the 4th tier and Temple in the 3rd. What kind of impact would 'lower' tier schools have on future employment prospects? I know this is a very general question with multiple scenarios - like the "fork in the road" logic, but any inputs will be greatly appreciated.
3) Any ideas on schol amounts in these two schools? To you fresh undergrads out there - I'm not trying to steal your money here, but due to extraneous reasons, I'm probably as bankrupt as most of you are, despite earning decently.
4) I am thinking of waiting 2-3 more years and I think my net cash flow will become positive by then (expenses would've been largely paid down) and then applying to a higher tiered school and go full time. What do you think of that idea given that I'm 39 now. Is it really worthwhile graduating at 45 from a school in the top 25-30?

Any inputs/suggestions are appreciated in advance.

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johnnyutah
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Re: Part time JD - help me with answers, please.

Postby johnnyutah » Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:11 pm

Your situation is kind of interesting. I do think that, under most circumstances, it absolutely makes sense to switch careers at age 40 in order to do something you love. Here, though, it might be a little different because you want to do corporate/international work. This kind of work is almost exclusively done through big firms, who may be reluctant to hire you because of how long it takes young associates to progress to partner.

Regardless, you will have a hard time getting a job in these areas of law from the schools you got in to. If you're sure this is the practice area you want, forget about Widener entirely. Temple would give you some opportunities, but only if you do very well there.

My advice would be to (1) consider what other kinds of legal practice you might enjoy doing, and (2) retake the LSAT before making any decisions.

mks00007
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Re: Part time JD - help me with answers, please.

Postby mks00007 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:23 pm

Thanks for your prompt reply - sobering but insightful.
1) The reason I chose Corporate/International Law is because these areas are what got me interested in the field initially. After exploring further, I began to be attracted because of the ‘wholesome’ education that the study of law provides – long story short, a lot of areas do interest me now but I’m not certain at this stage if they interest me enough to make a career out of them.

2) Did you mean retake LSAT again? I used to be in the 165-167 range pretty consistently in the practice tests. That’s why I was surprised with a 162 and I re-took it immediately and landed 166. So, I’m not sure my LSAT is going to improve significantly by retaking it.

mks00007
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Re: Part time JD - help me with answers, please.

Postby mks00007 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:26 pm

Two other questions - in what specializations do you think age wouldn't play a major role? Is Widener a good choice for any specialization?

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johnnyutah
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Re: Part time JD - help me with answers, please.

Postby johnnyutah » Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:35 pm

mks00007 wrote:Two other questions - in what specializations do you think age wouldn't play a major role? Is Widener a good choice for any specialization?

Yeah, I meant retake the LSAT. If you're hell-bent on doing international law, you really need to get a 168 or higher and to get into a t-14 to have a good chance.

It's not so much that your age will play a role in any specialization per se - it's that your age may make it difficult to get hired by the big, prestigious, high-paying firms that dominate the specialties you mentioned. I can't imagine that small or medium sized employers, who do things like trial work, tort litigation, wills & estate planning, or public benefits (social security, medicare) stuff would have any kind of problem with your age. Also, I suspect that your age could be an advantage for prosecution and criminal defense.

There is no specialty that Widener will give you an edge for. That being said, there are specialties - like the ones listed above - where Widener will not disadvantage you to nearly the extent that it would for international or corporate work.

I think you're really smart to research and think about these issues ahead of time, and it seems like you'd make a terrific associate at a law firm between your background and the levelheadedness that you're displaying. Anyway, that's my advice. Hopefully someone else on the forum will weigh in soon and tell me if I'm way off base on anything.

mks00007
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Re: Part time JD - help me with answers, please.

Postby mks00007 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:50 pm

Again, thanks a lot for your prompt replies. Sorry to be peppering you with questions, but here’s one more – Why do you think my age would be an advantage if I choose to practice crim law? I’ll definitely explore the areas you’ve mentioned more and think about re-taking LSAT (disadvantage going full time- as I said earlier, I will have to wait a couple of years more to be ready for that). Finally, thanks for the compliments – hope you can convince one of those big firms that I’d make a terrific first year associate when I do graduate, of course. :D

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johnnyutah
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Re: Part time JD - help me with answers, please.

Postby johnnyutah » Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:56 pm

mks00007 wrote:Again, thanks a lot for your prompt replies. Sorry to be peppering you with questions, but here’s one more – Why do you think my age would be an advantage if I choose to practice crim law? I’ll definitely explore the areas you’ve mentioned more and think about re-taking LSAT (disadvantage going full time- as I said earlier, I will have to wait a couple of years more to be ready for that). Finally, thanks for the compliments – hope you can convince one of those big firms that I’d make a terrific first year associate when I do graduate, of course. :D

Crim law is totally doable at your age. In fact, I know a guy (my ex girlfriend's father) who graduated law school at age 48, and then got a job in the public defender's office.

The usual career track for people who do criminal law is to work as either a prosecutor or defense attorney for a few years, and then use your experience and connections to either start your own solo practice or else join an established defense firm. From what I've heard for practitioners (keep in mind, I'm only a 3L myself), it takes about two to five years to put yourself in a position to transition effectively into private practice. So, assuming you went to law school next year, you could be managing your own practice at 45. I don't think that's bad at all.

mks00007
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Re: Part time JD - help me with answers, please.

Postby mks00007 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 5:06 pm

You've been a tremendous help. Thank you.

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casper13
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Re: Part time JD - help me with answers, please.

Postby casper13 » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:14 am

Oh goodness here we go with the TLS t-14 or bust attitude. If you are interested in law and want to attend a regional school for family then do it. Most people here are without family so they dont get it when that comes into account. I was somewhat solo in my life until about 6 months ago so now having a family is gonna make my school plans change a little, so I feel ya on the not wanting to go full time.

With your GPA and LSAT for Temple you are way above both 75% so they may throw some cash at you, mind that they only gave one part timer a full tution scholarship last year according to their ABA school data from LSAC. But if you are working then worse case scenario is you take out some loans for tution only. Widener is a little bit of a different story as even though you are way above their 75% also they dont throw much cash so it may not be as good an idea to go there. Not sure your actual geographic location but I assume it is philly or close to due to school choices. Would it be to far to go to rutgers, I know they place somewhat well in Philly and they also have a part time program. Good luck.

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nealric
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Re: Part time JD - help me with answers, please.

Postby nealric » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:17 am

Oh goodness here we go with the TLS t-14 or bust attitude. If you are interested in law and want to attend a regional school for family then do it.


T14 or bust isn't always the right advice, but it is if the poster is set on international corporate work.

OP, I think the biggest issue is that you are going to have to be prepared to take a salary cut to get established in the legal field. Outside of large law firms, most entry-level legal jobs aren't going to pay all that well.

mks00007
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Re: Part time JD - help me with answers, please.

Postby mks00007 » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:00 pm

Thanks for some pretty honest answers here folks. My location is in the Wilmington, DE area – a couple of miles from Widener Law campus and 30-40 mts from Temple – guess that explains my looking at these 2 schools. Rutgers is a good suggestion – will certainly look at that.

My interest in a legal education was originally kindled by exposure to corp/intl business. I have 4 years of international work experience, plus my work in the business side has shown me that company lawyers and the business are almost always at logger heads as each side doesn’t fully understand the other’s perspective and each side obviously has a diametrically opposite agenda. This, coupled with the fact that my industry has been at the receiving end of multiple legislations over the last few years, are what got me interested in this field in the beginning. When I explored further, I began to like what I saw and slowly interest in a formal education blossomed. Ok – I think I’m getting way off track here. The bottomline is, I’m certainly willing to consider other areas of law (IT law – any ideas anyone?) and was mentioning corp/international only because I thought I’d be able to build on what I already know to some extent, though solely from a business perspective. And, to another point, yes I absolutely need some scholarship money (am in the red now, can’t afford to sink in large sums at this point in life) and may be that’s the reason I discounted Rutgers in the first place, coz I remember reading / hearing somewhere that Rutgers doesn’t offer money to part-timers (does anyone know for sure?).
On another note, is there anyone who knows what it takes to become an inhouse attorney? Would business knowledge coupled with a J.D. help? All my social/professional circle is confined to f/s – don’t know any lawyers personally, hence all these possibly basic questions. I have been reading this forum for a year or more and have found it extremely enlightening – hence I am turning to you guys with questions.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Part time JD - help me with answers, please.

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:10 pm

If you are under financial pressure & have a young dependent family, is law school a wise move at this time or just an escape offering hope for the future ?

r6_philly
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Re: Part time JD - help me with answers, please.

Postby r6_philly » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:44 pm

I am 5 years younger and also have a family, so our situation is similar. I am only going to law school because I think I can upgrade my income potential by a lot. I am ambitious, if I wasn't I probably wouldn't take this plunge. I considered doing part-time at Temple since I am live in the Philly area, but ultimately getting a part-time degree from Temple/Rutgers is probably going to make my financial goals that much harder to achieve.

That said, I don't really know what your goals are. I don't know how much you make now, what advancement potential do you have both inhouse or latterally. You have to see if this move is giog to provide you with a better 10-15 year earning potential than if you stay. If you are making $150k now, then it would make a hell lot less sense than if you are making $40k, right?

I don't consider the financial burden to be that great for 3-4 years of school, personally. My wife is a stay at home home/student, I don't expect her to work expect for maybe internships/workstudy for experience. I will be taking out massive loans and working part-time, but I feel that the potential is great enough to justify the debt. But obviously it is very hard to give you advice not knowing the #s on your balancesheet.

I have classmates and friends who graduated from Temple Law recently (full-time though). They are doing well, but not wealthy. I don't know about your expectations, but be careful doing your calculations.

mks00007
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Re: Part time JD - help me with answers, please.

Postby mks00007 » Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:10 pm

r6-philly - Yeah, our backgrounds do look similar. Where do you plan to go to law school (if you don't mind me asking)? Did you say you plan going full-time and working part-time? As I already said, I'm venturing into this field primarily due to interest, but, interest alone does not pay the bills and help prepare for retirement. So, I'm tempering my expectations down and trying to align my interests with reality. Eventual goals are to be in a field of law where I could use my business knowledge to some degree (if I am day dreaming here, someone please wake me up - but I do believe that there must be at least a few folks out there who did a mid career switch to law and were able to leverage their past life in a law career), and to still make decent dough. That's why I was asking if anyone knew what it takes to start as an in-house attorney (in our current organizational structure, fresh attorneys start 1 rung above my current one - in salary terms, that could be 10K-50K (the wide range is due to banding) and getting to the rung above could well take 3-7 years for me now (can only guess in today's stagnated environment). I could certainly ask around in my company, but word spreads fast and I don't want to (so to speak) spill the beans to my current department too soon, lest my management gets wrong ideas.

I am right there around the median of the range you mention and my industry is no longer a growth story - well, it never has been since the mid 90s. In the longer term - 10/15 years - one area in the industry which I think would grow for sure is the legal field (my $0.02 after being in the industry for long).

r6_philly
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Re: Part time JD - help me with answers, please.

Postby r6_philly » Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:50 pm

I am in at Berkeley and Penn, so most likely these are my primary choices. I will spend the next few month figuring out which one I want to go to for the next 3 years. I am positive this is the right choice. I think if I lived in DC maybe I will give GULC part-time a look but going to the best school that fits my needs is going to do more for me down the line than saving money now. It is obviously a very hard decision - a harder one for you than for me, so do some more research and make sure you take the least amount of risk as possible. Without knowing the specifics, I am not sure if a PT program is going to do for you what you want done. I am one to believe if you want to achieve something, you can do it if you keep trying, but you are also at the point you don't want to waste 4 years of effort and ultimate that place you in no better position than you are now. If you are interested in more of my opinions, feel free to PM me more details and I'd be happy to talk to you and give you my opinions. I am not sure what industry you are in, but it sounds like you are on the same path that I stumbled onto. My decision is probably more perculiar because my industry is on a growth spur, I just think that I can profit a lot more by incorporating law.

I think you should target some specific positions that you would like to have if you follow through, and check out/research their bios and see if the law school choices you have in mind are likely to get you where they are.

I think if you have a decent chance of getting in Penn ED. So if you want to consider full-time, you have a shot at upgrading your potentials. Penn would probably get you want you want since you are local, so I wouldn't necessarily settle for the PT programs.




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