Looking for a career change

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rose090999

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Looking for a career change

Postby rose090999 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:28 am

ok, I know I'm probably asking for a bunch of comments dissuading me from my ambition to become a lawyer but I'll take whatever criticism/comments that are offered. I'm a 50 year old IT professional looking at possibly starting law school in the Fall on a part time/evening basis. I was just accepted into Widener Law School's TAP program and plan on attending to see if I have what it takes. If I get in through the program I plan on starting in the Fall and finishing in 4 years when I'm 54. My plan would be to continue to practice into my 60's and retirement. Money is not an issue as I have done fairly well in my career and my current job is very flexible time wise. Am I crazy?

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby QContinuum » Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:40 pm

Welcome to TLS, Rose!

First, kudos on your ambition and grit. It's no small thing to be seriously contemplating law school at 50.

rose090999 wrote:I was just accepted into Widener Law School's TAP program and plan on attending to see if I have what it takes.

Often, the hardest part of law school isn't getting in, passing the required courses, or even passing the bar exam - it's landing a job after graduation. At Widener, for instance, only 29% of its class of 2017 landed full-time, long-term legal employment out of law school. (An additional 25% landed state or local clerkships, which only last 1-2 years, pay very little, and do not meaningfully boost employability, meaning those clerks have, in all likelihood, only postponed their pain.)

Do you have a plan for getting a legal job out of Widener?

rose090999 wrote:My plan would be to continue to practice into my 60's and retirement. Money is not an issue as I have done fairly well in my career and my current job is very flexible time wise. Am I crazy?

What salary do you expect to earn as a lawyer?

If you attend Widener and pay for 4 years of tuition and living costs during law school, plus additional costs while studying for the bar exam after graduation, will you still have enough money left in your retirement account to fund your anticipated retirement lifestyle even if you are unable to secure any legal work after law school?

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby LSATWiz.com » Mon Apr 15, 2019 2:43 pm

QContinuum wrote:Welcome to TLS, Rose!

First, kudos on your ambition and grit. It's no small thing to be seriously contemplating law school at 50.

rose090999 wrote:I was just accepted into Widener Law School's TAP program and plan on attending to see if I have what it takes.

Often, the hardest part of law school isn't getting in, passing the required courses, or even passing the bar exam - it's landing a job after graduation. At Widener, for instance, only 29% of its class of 2017 landed full-time, long-term legal employment out of law school. (An additional 25% landed state or local clerkships, which only last 1-2 years, pay very little, and do not meaningfully boost employability, meaning those clerks have, in all likelihood, only postponed their pain.)

Do you have a plan for getting a legal job out of Widener?

rose090999 wrote:My plan would be to continue to practice into my 60's and retirement. Money is not an issue as I have done fairly well in my career and my current job is very flexible time wise. Am I crazy?

What salary do you expect to earn as a lawyer?

If you attend Widener and pay for 4 years of tuition and living costs during law school, plus additional costs while studying for the bar exam after graduation, will you still have enough money left in your retirement account to fund your anticipated retirement lifestyle even if you are unable to secure any legal work after law school?

I would add that you are also likely to face age discrimination. Legal employers like people they can mold and work like hell in their 20s and early 30s without concern that it would be awkward to boss them around.

This would be a concern no matter where you went to law school. Widener is an objectively terrible decision for any one, much less someone in their 50s. To make this school profitable, you'd need the same skills as someone that went to a top law school but it could take a decade to wind up where you would have been had you graduated from a good school on day one. This is to say you should not anticipate earning a six-figure income until you're 64 and that's only if you work your tail off and are fortunate. Would you be happy with this?

The reality, as QContinnum said, is that only 29% of grads land full-time legal employment, which means 71% do not. Given that your age will not work in your favor for reasons that are admittedly unfair, you are coming in more likely to be part of the 71% than a random classmate of yours.

I have worked with my fair share of middle-aged people who want to go to law school. They generally are gung-ho on applying immediately on a whim because they feel like it's something they just have to do and have to do right now. The older you are life, the more major life decisions have to be properly planned out and I'd venture to say attending Wiedner is never properly planned out. I don't want to drop the phrase mid-life crisis, but at least a mid-life crisis generally comes with an objectively nice car and aesthetically pleasing partner. The Wiedner form of this crisis comes with hardwork with little reward other than a framed piece of paper that carries little value.

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby rose090999 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 2:50 pm

As far as future employment I would probably take whatever I could get and I have no salary expectations. I know that it's probably not every law school graduates dream but a position as a Public Defender would suit me fine. This would be a career change that I would continue all the way until retirement (or death :)) Law school has been a dream of mine for almost 30 years but I wasn't in a financial or professional position to pursue it until now. A little late to the game but I think It's taken me 30 years to gain the experience and maturity to succeed at something like this. I'll most likely pay off all of the debt with part of my 401K when it comes due. Might ding me a little but I would hope to make up the difference with a decent job offer. I'm at a point in my life where I have very little debt and a very good salary, so why not pursue my dream? Like they say, "you can't take it with you".......

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby albanach » Mon Apr 15, 2019 3:34 pm

rose090999 wrote:As far as future employment I would probably take whatever I could get and I have no salary expectations. I know that it's probably not every law school graduates dream but a position as a Public Defender would suit me fine. This would be a career change that I would continue all the way until retirement (or death :)) Law school has been a dream of mine for almost 30 years but I wasn't in a financial or professional position to pursue it until now. A little late to the game but I think It's taken me 30 years to gain the experience and maturity to succeed at something like this. I'll most likely pay off all of the debt with part of my 401K when it comes due. Might ding me a little but I would hope to make up the difference with a decent job offer. I'm at a point in my life where I have very little debt and a very good salary, so why not pursue my dream? Like they say, "you can't take it with you".......


So, to be clear, you'd still be financially comfortable in your retirement if you make circa $50k between now and stopping working (including the cost of paying for school)?

Are you geographically mobile? Or do you need to attend school locally?

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby QContinuum » Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:06 pm

rose090999 wrote:I would probably take whatever I could get and I have no salary expectations. ... I'll most likely pay off all of the debt with part of my 401K when it comes due. Might ding me a little but I would hope to make up the difference with a decent job offer.

The bolded portions of your post are inconsistent with each other.

As noted above, Widener's job prospects are so bad that it's not objectively reasonable to attend unless 1) you are perfectly OK (both mentally and financially) with never securing full-time, long-term legal work after graduation, or 2) you have, in advance, a 100% firm job offer for a specific legal position from a specific employer.

rose090999 wrote:I'm at a point in my life where I have very little debt and a very good salary, so why not pursue my dream? Like they say, "you can't take it with you".......

Yeah, but you gotta make sure you have enough to keep yourself afloat during retirement while you're still alive! (Also, obviously, your current salary will vanish should you decide to quit to pursue a legal career.)

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby rose090999 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:23 pm

I would need to stay local and pursue this part time as well. I've currently applied to Temple, Widener, and Seton Hall all of which have part time programs that I could attend and still work. I just got the offer to attend Wideners TAP program last week and waiting on the other 2 schools. My main drive into doing this is that I'm starting to get burnt out in my current career and is in no way, shape or form a "mid life" crisis. Right now I count the days until I can collect my pension and 401K. That is not the way I have been my entire career. I need a new challenge.

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby LSATWiz.com » Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:17 pm

rose090999 wrote:I would need to stay local and pursue this part time as well. I've currently applied to Temple, Widener, and Seton Hall all of which have part time programs that I could attend and still work. I just got the offer to attend Wideners TAP program last week and waiting on the other 2 schools. My main drive into doing this is that I'm starting to get burnt out in my current career and is in no way, shape or form a "mid life" crisis. Right now I count the days until I can collect my pension and 401K. That is not the way I have been my entire career. I need a new challenge.

There are many that don't cost $200,000 for sub-50% odds at $50,000. Why not write a novel?

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby cavalier1138 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:13 pm

rose090999 wrote:I need a new challenge.


Right. And everyone is urging you to make that challenge the daily struggle to solve your clients' legal problems in practice, rather than the struggle to find gainful employment after graduating from a dumpster fire like Widener.

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby rose090999 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:39 pm

I would actually like to hear from graduates or students of these "lower tiered" schools and hear about their experiences. Like I stated before "gainful employment" for me could possibly be working as a public defender...or would that type of employment be a challenge to find?

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby QContinuum » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:28 pm

rose090999 wrote:Like I stated before "gainful employment" for me could possibly be working as a public defender...or would that type of employment be a challenge to find?

I mean no disrespect, Rose, but it doesn't seem like you've been reading our posts carefully. As I previously wrote in this thread:
QContinuum wrote:At Widener ... only 29% of its class of 2017 landed full-time, long-term legal employment out of law school. (An additional 25% landed state or local clerkships, which only last 1-2 years, pay very little, and do not meaningfully boost employability, meaning those clerks have, in all likelihood, only postponed their pain.)

And as LSATWiz.com further emphasized:
LSATWiz.com wrote:The reality, as QContinnum said, is that only 29% of grads land full-time legal employment, which means 71% do not. Given that your age will not work in your favor for reasons that are admittedly unfair, you are coming in more likely to be part of the 71% than a random classmate of yours.

When we talk about legal employment, we aren't just talking about "BigLaw" or specific kinds of jobs. We're talking about working as a lawyer. Yes, that includes public defender jobs. It includes municipal jobs. It includes jobs in state government. It includes jobs working for a two-attorney personal injury shop.

Make no mistake, we're not saying you need to attend a "T13" or "T20" law school. If your goal is to work as a public defender, it would be perfectly reasonable to attend a top 50 or even (depending on the law school) a top 100 law school if you can attend at a reasonable cost. Attending a tier 4 law school like Widener is not an objectively reasonable proposition for you.

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby nixy » Tue Apr 16, 2019 7:02 am

Yeah, getting a PD job out of Temple and probably Seton Hall would be doable, and those would be much better options than Widener.

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby Kiwilaw » Tue Apr 16, 2019 7:40 am

rose090999 wrote:I would actually like to hear from graduates or students of these "lower tiered" schools and hear about their experiences. Like I stated before "gainful employment" for me could possibly be working as a public defender...or would that type of employment be a challenge to find?


Rose,
Sorry to say I'm not a graduate. However, I'd suggest looking up the schools' ABA reports to get a better look at employment outcomes. Actually, I've just done so for you.

Widener: https://delawarelaw.widener.edu/current ... 2017-2018/
Temple: https://www.law.temple.edu/site/wp-cont ... t-2017.pdf
Seton Hall: https://law.shu.edu/admissions/upload/a ... duates.pdf

As you can see, Temple and Seton place far better than Widener. Widener's employment numbers are especially concerning considering that their graduating class is smaller than their entering class by a fair bit, meaning many aren't graduating at all.

Age discrimination may also play a role as others have pointed out, but it looks like you have a pretty strong chance of finding employment as a lawyer from Temple and Seton Hall - especially if you can graduate with good grades. Also keep in mind that employment numbers can plummet in the event of a recession, so a legal job can never be 100% guaranteed.

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:47 am

rose090999 wrote:Like I stated before "gainful employment" for me could possibly be working as a public defender...or would that type of employment be a challenge to find?


I agree with others that a school like Temple would usually get you good access to a PD office, but your posts seem to indicate that you think PD work isn't competitive or is an option of last resort for students who can't get jobs elsewhere.

I'm actually skeptical that you would be a strong contender for most PD offices, because they usually look for people who have shown a real passion for criminal defense or related work. You can do some of that during law school, but trying to explain how your decades of IT experience shows your thirst for justice is going to be a stretch. This isn't to say that it would be impossible, but again, you seem to be treating PD work as a maybe-this-could-be-fun option, which won't get you in the door at most offices.

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby rose090999 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:58 am

I mean no disrespect to the practice of being a PD, on the contrary, I think it is a very noble profession. It seems like there is more disrespect thrown around on this message board toward lower tiered law schools. I appreciate the constructive feedback as far as the prospective job percentages. That is definitely something to think about. I've always felt like one of the most important skills to learn is networking. Networking can open up a lot of doors that would otherwise be shut even with an outstanding academic background. Like I stated previously, unlike most students just starting law school, the cost of law school for me would not be a huge financial impact. I've probably spent as much on vacation and toys in the last 10 years. What I'm looking for is a new challenge and something that will excite me. Other than the poor job prospects right out of school, what else about Widener would dissuade me from attending? Poor teaching? Am I not going to learn anything? Will they make fun of my age? Is the food bad in the cafeteria? What makes it such a POS school other than it doesn't fall in the top tiers of US News&WR?

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby Wubbles » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:54 am

rose090999 wrote: I've always felt like one of the most important skills to learn is networking. Networking can open up a lot of doors that would otherwise be shut even with an outstanding academic background.


99.99% of getting a legal job starts with where you went to school and what grades you get. Networking will not overcome this except at the minutest margins.

Other than the poor job prospects right out of school, what else about Widener would dissuade me from attending? Poor teaching? Am I not going to learn anything? Will they make fun of my age? Is the food bad in the cafeteria? What makes it such a POS school other than it doesn't fall in the top tiers of US News&WR?

The employment outcomes should dissuade you.

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby Johnnybgoode92 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:27 am

OP, TLS can be harsh. Some are snarky but most posters mean well even if some aren't on the ground informed about non-T14s. Some people go to the school your considering and do alright. Some don't. You need to listen to other posters arguments and play devils advocate. I'm not saying don't go (I go to a school I won't name but one that gets mocked a lott here), but until you make a strong counter argument you haven't really justified going.

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:36 am

rose090999 wrote:Other than the poor job prospects right out of school, what else about Widener would dissuade me from attending? Poor teaching? Am I not going to learn anything? Will they make fun of my age? Is the food bad in the cafeteria?


None of that other stuff is relevant. Almost every law school has a good faculty (there are so few positions that it's pretty much a given). You're going to learn the same things in 1L everywhere, and outside of some weirder electives, you'll have access to the same classes. You'll likely be the oldest student in your class anywhere.

Law school isn't education for education's sake. It's professional school. The only reason to go to law school is to become a lawyer. So if a law school doesn't give you even a reasonable shot at being a practicing lawyer after graduation, it's a bad school.

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby LSATWiz.com » Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:17 pm

rose090999 wrote:I mean no disrespect to the practice of being a PD, on the contrary, I think it is a very noble profession. It seems like there is more disrespect thrown around on this message board toward lower tiered law schools. I appreciate the constructive feedback as far as the prospective job percentages. That is definitely something to think about. I've always felt like one of the most important skills to learn is networking. Networking can open up a lot of doors that would otherwise be shut even with an outstanding academic background. Like I stated previously, unlike most students just starting law school, the cost of law school for me would not be a huge financial impact. I've probably spent as much on vacation and toys in the last 10 years. What I'm looking for is a new challenge and something that will excite me. Other than the poor job prospects right out of school, what else about Widener would dissuade me from attending? Poor teaching? Am I not going to learn anything? Will they make fun of my age? Is the food bad in the cafeteria? What makes it such a POS school other than it doesn't fall in the top tiers of US News&WR?

It's not that there is anything wrong with a PD. It's that it is highly, highly unlikely you will get a job as a PD. The 29% employment figure includes those who start their own practice (mostly with 0 clients) immediately upon bar passage and those who get jobs working for a solo attorney. It's that this is a 5-10% outcome. It's the best case scenario.

Your question is there anything about Wiedner other than having a bad first job indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of the legal profession. It shows you think, "Okay. My first job will be bad but then I'll get a good second job". The problem is that's not how it works. Your first job predicts your second. Many of that 71 % of students will never get a job practicing law at any point in their lifetimes. Keep in mind this decision is more likely than not to preclude you from ever being able to retire, and is more likely than not to reduce your life expectancy and be one of the worst decisions of your life. It will follow you in 30-years, and the sudden need to go right now does suggest you are having a sort of midlife crisis.

This isn't to say every older law student is having a midlife crisis, but there is a type who (1) has to start immediately, (2) cannot rationally analyze data and statistically evidence despite previously being able to do so their entire life and (3) believes this is their mission that more often than not is suffering from a midlife crisis. The problem is that after the crisis goes away, the debt and resume stain that is Wiedner will not. This is no offense, but this degree will not only make it unlikely you ever get a job practicing law but also make it much more difficult to secure the kinds of jobs you have now.

I'm sure everyone here wishes you well, but we'd be irresponsible human beings to stand idly by while you take a course of action that will more likely than not ruin your life.

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby LSATWiz.com » Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:24 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
rose090999 wrote:Other than the poor job prospects right out of school, what else about Widener would dissuade me from attending? Poor teaching? Am I not going to learn anything? Will they make fun of my age? Is the food bad in the cafeteria?


None of that other stuff is relevant. Almost every law school has a good faculty (there are so few positions that it's pretty much a given). You're going to learn the same things in 1L everywhere, and outside of some weirder electives, you'll have access to the same classes. You'll likely be the oldest student in your class anywhere.

Law school isn't education for education's sake. It's professional school. The only reason to go to law school is to become a lawyer. So if a law school doesn't give you even a reasonable shot at being a practicing lawyer after graduation, it's a bad school.

I'd say a bar failure rate of nearly 50% suggests something is lacking. Another thing to consider is that OP may not pass the bar for several years after they pass law school. I've met people who failed it 8-9 times from these types of schools. There's no guarantee OP will be in a position to even have a 5-10% chance at their desired outcome.

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby ghostoftraynor » Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:35 pm

Agree with the advice here, but want to add one point--the TAP program isn't even admission to Widener. People have to pay to take classes over summer, that they don't get credit for. Something like 10% of the program scores high enough to get admitted to Widener in the Fall.

Definitely do not pay Widener money for classes that you won't get credit for, with a small chance of ultimately enrolling there.

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:45 pm

ghostoftraynor wrote:Agree with the advice here, but want to add one point--the TAP program isn't even admission to Widener. People have to pay to take classes over summer, that they don't get credit for. Something like 10% of the program scores high enough to get admitted to Widener in the Fall.

Definitely do not pay Widener money for classes that you won't get credit for, with a small chance of ultimately enrolling there.


Wow. That's Cooley-level behavior.

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby Johnnybgoode92 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:50 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
ghostoftraynor wrote:Agree with the advice here, but want to add one point--the TAP program isn't even admission to Widener. People have to pay to take classes over summer, that they don't get credit for. Something like 10% of the program scores high enough to get admitted to Widener in the Fall.

Definitely do not pay Widener money for classes that you won't get credit for, with a small chance of ultimately enrolling there.


Wow. That's Cooley-level behavior.


Please stop. I didn't bring up the school.

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:04 pm

Johnnybgoode92 wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
ghostoftraynor wrote:Agree with the advice here, but want to add one point--the TAP program isn't even admission to Widener. People have to pay to take classes over summer, that they don't get credit for. Something like 10% of the program scores high enough to get admitted to Widener in the Fall.

Definitely do not pay Widener money for classes that you won't get credit for, with a small chance of ultimately enrolling there.


Wow. That's Cooley-level behavior.


Please stop. I didn't bring up the school.


You didn't have to, champ. I was just registering astonishment at Widener's exploitative behavior, and Cooley (a national embarrassment) is another school I can imagine sinking that low. If it helps, I think Southwestern or TJ would probably do something similar. Cooley isn't the only predatory scam out there.

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Re: Looking for a career change

Postby LSATWiz.com » Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:05 pm

ghostoftraynor wrote:Agree with the advice here, but want to add one point--the TAP program isn't even admission to Widener. People have to pay to take classes over summer, that they don't get credit for. Something like 10% of the program scores high enough to get admitted to Widener in the Fall.

Definitely do not pay Widener money for classes that you won't get credit for, with a small chance of ultimately enrolling there.

I don't want to sound elitist, but they do this to preserve LSAT medians and because they can lose accreditation if they accept too many sub-150 LSAT scores. Being their median is a 148, OP likely applied with an LSAT of about 145 or lower.

The idea of someone in their 50's suddenly matriculating into law school with a <145 is mindblowing. The odds of bar passage for sub-150 LSAT scorers is generally lower than 50%, and OP is justifying the decision by saying they are okay being a PD, which glosses over the fact (1) it will be hard to pass the bar without dramatically improving academically before entering law school, and (2) the odds they will place high enough in the class to get that kind of job are very low. Not to be overdramatic, but unless they really hate themselves, this is a terrible idea.



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