Should I go to law school at age 40?

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Should I go to law school at age 40?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:56 pm

Hello, fellow TLS members:

As my subject header indicates, I am looking for some advice/feedback. I am 40 (yes, yikes right?) year old female. I graduated from top 15 liberal art college with overall GPA of 3.73 with numerous departmental recognitions and awards. I have been working in institutional equity sales job for the past 16 years and have just been laid off. Banking was great when I was young. I was making big money at an early age, I got to travel, wine and dine etc. being in sales was fun for awhile but I am now trying to switch careers.

I always wanted to go to law school (when I was young) but just got lost in time with the whole banking thing. My career was going too well in my 20s, so much so that the oppotunity cost from lost income would have been too great had I quit to go back to school. My 30s, I just thought it was “too late”. Now that I have entered the doom age, I really feel like it’s either now or never.

Having said that, I am very realistic and I realize My ROI would be considerably lower than most of you folks here. Even if I go to t14, I may not get a job at all. I actually really enjoy studying for LSAT and I believe I would enjoy law to a certain degree (probably more so than most lawyers). My goal would be to land a job in in real estate transactions or banking regulatory/compliance areas.

What do you think? I don’t want to waste the rest of my life doing something insignificant. But at the same time, I don’t want to lose 3-4 years of my life and end up not accomplishing what I set out to do because of my age. With equity sales background, most people just “disappear”. And that is what I do not want.

Any advice is much appreciated!
Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

jd20132013

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Re: Should I go to law school at age 40?

Postby jd20132013 » Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:15 am

Only if you can go for free

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4LTsPointingNorth

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Re: Should I go to law school at age 40?

Postby 4LTsPointingNorth » Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:35 am

The potential ROI of law school at this stage in your career/life is significantly lower than that of someone approaching a legal career in their mid 20s. For similar reasons, the lifetime expected value of a legal education is also commensurately lower.

So for it to be worth it, you would need to reduce the amount of investment required (meaning money, since the time-aspect is not negotiable), and you would need to do some honest introspective forward thinking to determine whether you would be happy accepting marching orders from some 20-something year old at work once you finally started actual employment in this new career path. You would be forced to endure this despite the fact that you very legitimately may be better informed and qualified in some aspects at this young supervisor's job than they are.

If all this is more attractive to you than any alternatives you can imagine, then you should feel comfortable proceeding. At the end of the day, it really is a personal decision, and you know yourself and your wants best.

L_William_W

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Re: Should I go to law school at age 40?

Postby L_William_W » Tue Feb 27, 2018 1:02 am

I know someone who entered law school at the age of 55 and passed the NY bar on her first attempt. She was like my second mom until we had a falling out.

At my alma mater CUNY, many of the students are over 40. CUNY has a night program which allows students to work during the day and then go to school at night.

Age can work to your advantage since you have more life experience. This will be attractive to potential employers. If you have the grades and the desire then by all means go.

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Re: Should I go to law school at age 40?

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Tue Feb 27, 2018 8:53 am

I think it’s worth it if you can go for free (which is what I did in my early 30s). It’s not a good investment if you have $150-200k in debt and only about 20 years of practice. My experience has been that I enjoy practicing law and I’m very happy I switched careers.

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Re: Should I go to law school at age 40?

Postby nybar2017 » Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:42 am

What is your realistic income now? How many hours do you need to work to obtain that income? The high paying biglaw jobs on average will require you work to 60-80 hours a week. Lower paying jobs may require you to work the same amount of hours for much less pay. The majority of those hours will be spent alone behind your computer. For some context, there was an Above the Law article out a couple weeks ago which said that only around 20% of lawyers thought law school was worth the investment. Your previous job, with its travel and dining out sounded glamorous. My experience is law is seldom so, unless you count eating Seamless asap so you can get back to billing.

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deadpanic

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Re: Should I go to law school at age 40?

Postby deadpanic » Tue Feb 27, 2018 2:49 pm

nybar2017 wrote:Your previous job, with its travel and dining out sounded glamorous. My experience is law is seldom so, unless you count eating Seamless asap so you can get back to billing.


Yeah, while this is a personal question, I think this is a good point. It is really hard to explain to a lay person what practicing law is like, but generally speaking, it is long hours, stress, and the work is not all that rewarding as it may seem. A lot of people *think* they will enjoy practicing, but have no idea what they are in for. If you could potentially become a paralegal at a law firm and see what it's like before investing that may be a good idea.

My opinion, for what little its worth, is absolutely not at 40. Law is too stressful (especially as compared to your former job) for a weak ROI at this point.

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totesTheGoat

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Re: Should I go to law school at age 40?

Postby totesTheGoat » Tue Feb 27, 2018 3:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Banking was great when I was young. I was making big money at an early age, I got to travel, wine and dine etc. being in sales was fun for awhile but I am now trying to switch careers.


You may find that breaking into the new career is a lot like breaking into the old career. Lots of long days, lots of ordering dinner into the office, lots of swanky office parties. If you're thinking about doing biglaw, you're probably going to recognize the vibe from your banking days (I don't know much about banking besides what I hear, so take this with a grain of salt). Some company may take a swing at taking you in-house right out of law school because of your experience, but I wouldn't count on that if I were you. Those opportunities are rare and require a significant amount of luck. I'd plan for at least 3 years of practice in a law firm before thinking about in-house.

Nothing wrong with going to law school at 40. I went to night school with a few people who were around that age. They all dropped out, but that was more of a job/family responsibilities thing than anything else. If you're otherwise unencumbered, that shouldn't be an issue. I wouldn't pay much to go to law school if I were you. You're probably looking at a substantial pay cut when you get into law.

I actually really enjoy studying for LSAT and I believe I would enjoy law to a certain degree (probably more so than most lawyers).


The LSAT has nothing to do with practicing law or even law school. Don't take anything (good or bad) from your enjoyment of the LSAT. It's a hurdle to getting into law school, nothing more. Just like the bar exam is a hurdle to practicing law, nothing more. Law school is 99% reading court cases and 1% regurgitating those cases on paper with some analysis. Law practice isn't so easy to sum up.

If you have some lawyer friends, call them up and have lunch with them. Ask them about what they do, how and how long they "paid their dues" to get where they are, and what they think about your plan. I bet you'll have a much better picture of whether you'd enjoy law or not based on those conversations.

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Re: Should I go to law school at age 40?

Postby RedGiant » Wed Feb 28, 2018 4:43 am

I have so much to say on this and wish you could PM (argh new interface!)

I went to law school at 34, graduated at 37, and at 39 am a 2nd year biglaw associate. I started my career on Wall Street too. I just went through a lateral process from a satellite office of a firm that was not doing well to a HQ in the same city. It took me a few months to lateral. Several well-regarded (recommended by friends, from good firms) headhunters told me that my age IS an issue in lateralling. Much like an investment bank won't hire a 40 year old analyst (not equity coverage--just analyst!) or associate, biglaw firms would really much rather have a young whippersnapper with potential than someone who has a proven track record. They want someone who is young, hungry and willing to work all hours.

If your goal is not biglaw, this will not matter. But if your goal is not biglaw, do not go to law school with some romantic notion of saving the world. My classmates who are ADAs and public defenders work very hard and literally scrimp for every penny. Starting ADA salary in NYC and the Bronx is in the 60s right now--not at all what you've made in any recent lifetime.

Also, as someone who went to a HYPS school, who worked at bulge-brackets and top law firms as a paralegal prior to law school, I can tell you categorically that while that did not hurt me, it did not help me. I was judged in law school and for OCI (for biglaw) only on my first year grades. Kids from my class that went to very-lowly-ranked undergrads got jobs over me if they had better 1L grades. It's only about 1L grades for OCI, not your pedigree. I have tons of friends who are partners and they could not "save" me from my B-plussy first year performance (which went up dramatically in other years).

Law school is not fun. I've been to b-school at Tuck. That was fun. Law school is a grind. It's intense, you can work really hard and still not get an A. Effort is not correlated with reward, necessarily. It is a contest to see who can study the most/longest/most intensely and regurgitate correctly. It's nice to control your own time after having worked a 9-5 job, and it's adorable when your CDO tells you how to act professional when you've been a working professional for years. You have to do team projects in law school to "learn how to work in teams" which is a bit precious when you've been in the real world and everything is team-based. You have to smile through all these indignities.

I could see that certain shops would love your background--hedge funds for compliance, maybe structuring on an equity or hybrid desk. The issue is that most of the time, those jobs come _after_ you've done a year or two in biglaw, but getting into biglaw will be very difficult at your age. No firm will ever outright say they discriminate based on age (they're too smart) but they do! They will! Even if your college classmates got jobs at top NYC firms, you may not, due to your age.

Go to law school if you want. But know the door to biglaw may not be open. If you're OK with that, and you want to work really hard and become completely radioactive on the dating front, be my guest. Godspeed. Trying to tell it like it is, not to discourage you, but so you can make an informed choice.

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totesTheGoat

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Re: Should I go to law school at age 40?

Postby totesTheGoat » Wed Feb 28, 2018 10:45 am

RedGiant wrote: It's nice to control your own time after having worked a 9-5 job, and it's adorable when your CDO tells you how to act professional when you've been a working professional for years. You have to do team projects in law school to "learn how to work in teams" which is a bit precious when you've been in the real world and everything is team-based. You have to smile through all these indignities.


:lol: :lol: :lol:

I'm laughing because it's soooo true!

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Re: Should I go to law school at age 40?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:56 am

I was around your age when I started law school, got below-median grades during 1L at a T30, and landed biglaw during OCI primarily due to my life/work experience. *Some* employers will view your age as an asset rather than a drawback.

animalpeople

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Re: Should I go to law school at age 40?

Postby animalpeople » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:10 am

I would go if you can go for free and it makes sense for you financially. When I decided I wanted to go to law school at 25, I was a single mother with an unfinished undergrad degree who worked as a computer analyst for a local government. I was making 60k a year (in NYC) and knew if I landed a big law job I would be able to increase my earnings and accomplish a lifelong dream. Thankfully, I had a lot of family support. So, I completed my undergrad degree at night while I continued to work. I finished college, attended law school for free, received an offer from a v100 firm and will be graduating from law school this spring at 32 going on 33. I also just finished taking the NY bar yesterday as a pro bono scholar so I am really excited about that! But I digress ...

Could I have made a great living just staying in my field and completing my undergraduate degree? Yes. Being a software developer pays well but that wasn't my dream. I am a big advocate of following your dreams even if you wouldn't end up with as big of a pile of money in the end as long as you don't go into massive debt trying to accomplish those dreams. I am happier than I have been in a very long time and my family has benefited from this.

Whatever you decide, I wish you the best!

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Re: Should I go to law school at age 40?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:34 pm

You can do part-time...Sometimes I regretted that I did not think about that option before I applied for law schools.

taxman128

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Re: Should I go to law school at age 40?

Postby taxman128 » Fri Mar 02, 2018 3:02 pm

Should I go to law school at age 40?

No.

Better to play equity market. Less risk.

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Re: Should I go to law school at age 40?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:33 pm

I was 40 when I started and it has worked out fine. Unlike you, though, I faced a somewhat desperate income scenario and thus did not absorb much risk in terms of opportunity cost.



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