How old is too old for law school?

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
User avatar
Mauve.Dino
Posts: 171
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:55 am

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby Mauve.Dino » Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:01 am

Well, I'm 34 right now, so I'd better not be too old--ha, ha.

Everyone takes a different path; I don't know why some people think there's an "age limit" on applying/graduating law school. Work experience can only help, unless "work experience" constitutes five years spent cleaning grease traps at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Even then, it shows an admirable work ethic!

Ti Malice
Posts: 1955
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:55 am

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby Ti Malice » Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:56 am

Nicolena. wrote:I've been dreading putting off applying next cycle because I feel like starting law school at 26 would leave me at a great disadvantage. However, after reading this thread, I'm starting to feel like maybe it would be a good idea. My lsat score is not where I want it to be and I recently up-rooted my life and relocated. I feel very overwhelmed and l don't think I have enough time to prep for February. Oddly enough I was supposed to take December and I felt really great about everything, but when it was rescheduled and everything I started reevaluating everything. Am I just getting cold feet?


No, putting it off is definitely the smart move if you don't have the LSAT you want. You will be at no disadvantage whatsoever starting law school at 26. Quite the contrary. Employers aren't dying to hire 24-year-old JDs who have never held an actual job in their lives. On the other hand, a sub-optimal LSAT will probably put you at a serious disadvantage for the rest of your career. Retake in June or October when your life has settled down a bit.

By the way, there will be plenty of people in your class who are older than you.

Hutz_and_Goodman
Posts: 1413
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:42 am

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:35 am

There's a thread on here called "Old School" for law students in their 30s. I'll chime in that I think being mid 30s is viewed as a plus , and I have an SA lined up and am really happy with the law school decision.

sidhesadie
Posts: 454
Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby sidhesadie » Tue Dec 17, 2013 12:35 pm

I'll just add that I think that in *some* cases, this can be a different answer for men than women. As a thirty-something woman, employers are often thinking BABIES. Do you have them? Are you ABOUT to have them? Is your clock ticking? They can't ask you, of course, but they'll do things like point out how family friendly their firm is/isn't, or talk around the subject; trying to gauge your reaction to figure out where you are on the baby/kid track. It's happened to me multiple times. I've had male employers who weren't interviewing me (people I know through networking, etc.) tell me that's pretty much their first thought when interviewing a woman in her thirties for an entry level associate position, because moms "can't handle the hours" and are always needing time for "kid stuff". They don't worry about it with men, because they "assume he's got a wife taking care of the kids." :roll:

You'd think this was 1953, not 2013, I swear.

So, if you are a woman, just bear that in mind. You're going to have to figure out how do deal with it, either by figuring out how to signal you don't have kids and aren't planning on it, or by figuring out how to signal that the kids are covered because you have a house husband or something. :lol:

Lawgirl1979
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 1:54 pm

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby Lawgirl1979 » Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:52 pm

This thread makes me feel a bit better. I always worry I will be too old and actually was thinking of giving up my dream of law school when I turned 34 this year. I'm currently trying to finish my BA in Economics with a minor in Philosophy. Personally, I have had to work my whole life and have never been afforded the chance to just go to school, so that is what has given me my late start. I started working as a receptionist in a law firm when I was 16 and have been a paralegal/assistant for the past 10+ years once I learned more. So I guess I won't need to have the "reason for career change" since I'm already in this field. I probably won't be entering law school for a few years, when I'm 37 or so, so hopefully when I'm done at 40 I will still have some good job prospects (considered I have worked boutique and biglaw in every other job capacity).

User avatar
PDaddy
Posts: 2073
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2010 4:40 am

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby PDaddy » Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:01 pm

Icculus wrote:
Rotor wrote:
roranoa wrote:If I graduate law school I would be around 33-34 yrs old.
(What kind of response would this initiate? Would people be like "Whoa! What happened?)

Most people I know (those who went straight through or had 2-3 yrs of WE) graduated LS when they were 27,8. These people would make partner at 33-34.


What kind of disadvantages would I have for being old? Other than the fact that I have to work for people younger or the same age as me?

Not a big deal at your age...if anything you'll get a WE/maturity bump that the K-JDs don't get. Get up to my age (46 when I start as a first year in BigLaw) and you have some firms who avoid you, others who have no issues. The big thing for me will be if I stay at the firm I will be 55 or so when I'm up for partner. Doubtful they'd give me equity for 7 years or so. In your case, you'd be 44 or so--and thus nearly 20 years as a partner before Soc. Sec. eligible. Big difference.


I would add you need to be prepared to explain why it took you so long to get to law school. This was basically the first question every one of my screening interviewers asked me.


The subtext of the question is "what makes you think you can become a successful attorney now?" or "why should we hire you at your age over someone much younger?". While it appears to be facially neutral, that's basically an indication of age bias...DISCRIMINATORY!

You would think that LAW FIRMS, which have lawyers who are well-versed in employment law and civil rights law, would be the last employers to engage in that behavior. Clearly they actively engage in age discrimination. It appears that some biglaw firm is going to have to be sued in order to curtail it.
Last edited by PDaddy on Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 22842
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:04 pm

The applicant has to be over 40 for an age discrimination suit.

User avatar
PDaddy
Posts: 2073
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2010 4:40 am

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby PDaddy » Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:09 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:The applicant has to be over 40 for an age discrimination suit.


Yes...THIS applicant does, but what makes you think that applicants over 40 aren't being rejected in significant numbers? That's the more relevant issue addressed in my post. Applicants over 40 are repeatedly being asked age-related questions during interviews, often as the first questions. That suggests a strong pattern of age discrimination.

Your note about the line of demarcation (40) is well-taken, but you should also realize that it is completely arbitrary and can be stricken down with one major precedent - an industry-wide practice would be ripe for that precedent. There was a time that businesses with fewer than 20 employees were completely exempt from discrimination laws, and that changed on the 1990's.
Last edited by PDaddy on Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Nomo
Posts: 700
Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 2:06 am

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby Nomo » Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:10 pm

Nicolena. wrote:I've been dreading putting off applying next cycle because I feel like starting law school at 26 would leave me at a great disadvantage. However, after reading this thread, I'm starting to feel like maybe it would be a good idea. My lsat score is not where I want it to be and I recently up-rooted my life and relocated. I feel very overwhelmed and l don't think I have enough time to prep for February. Oddly enough I was supposed to take December and I felt really great about everything, but when it was rescheduled and everything I started reevaluating everything. Am I just getting cold feet?


There are no disadvantages to starting at 26 or 27 or 28. Absolutely none.

User avatar
Lincoln
Posts: 1029
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:27 pm

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby Lincoln » Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:13 pm

I graduated at 32. Did exceptionally well at OCI, in part because of age, composure and work experience.

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 22842
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:18 pm

PDaddy wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:The applicant has to be over 40 for an age discrimination suit.


Yes...THIS applicant does, but what makes you think that applicants over 40 aren't being rejected in significant numbers? That's the more relevant issue addressed in my post. Applicants over 40 are repeatedly being asked age-related questions during interviews, often as the first questions. That suggests a strong pattern of age discrimination.

Your note about the line of demarcation (40) is well-taken, but you should also realize that it is completely arbitrary and can be stricken down with one major precedent - an industry-wide practice would be ripe for that precedent. There was a time that businesses with fewer than 20 wmployees were completely exempt from discrimination laws, and that changed on the 1990's.

Well, the age 40 requirement is statutory and presumably rooted in some kind of empirical basis for when discrimination becomes a problem. And I'm not sure what your evidence is that applicants over 40 are regularly being asked age-related questions. It's not entirely unreasonable to figure out if someone with extensive experience/authority in another field is prepared to start over and work at the bottom and take orders from people younger than they are. There's a reason why age discrimination faces less strict scrutiny than race/sex/national origin.

I'm sure some biglaw firms are engaging in age discrimination, but what can be done about that isn't really relevant to the OP's or other posters' concerns about going to law school as an older student, because they have to deal with the legal profession as it is now (or will be in 3-4 years).

reverendt
Posts: 499
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2007 10:56 am

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby reverendt » Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:26 pm

I graduated LS at 39. I don't think it hurt me, although I'm not in biglaw.

User avatar
PDaddy
Posts: 2073
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2010 4:40 am

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby PDaddy » Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:30 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
PDaddy wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:The applicant has to be over 40 for an age discrimination suit.


Yes...THIS applicant does, but what makes you think that applicants over 40 aren't being rejected in significant numbers? That's the more relevant issue addressed in my post. Applicants over 40 are repeatedly being asked age-related questions during interviews, often as the first questions. That suggests a strong pattern of age discrimination.

Your note about the line of demarcation (40) is well-taken, but you should also realize that it is completely arbitrary and can be stricken down with one major precedent - an industry-wide practice would be ripe for that precedent. There was a time that businesses with fewer than 20 wmployees were completely exempt from discrimination laws, and that changed on the 1990's.

Well, the age 40 requirement is statutory and presumably rooted in some kind of empirical basis for when discrimination becomes a problem. And I'm not sure what your evidence is that applicants over 40 are regularly being asked age-related questions. It's not entirely unreasonable to figure out if someone with extensive experience/authority in another field is prepared to start over and work at the bottom and take orders from people younger than they are. There's a reason why age discrimination faces less strict scrutiny than race/sex/national origin.

I'm sure some biglaw firms are engaging in age discrimination, but what can be done about that isn't really relevant to the OP's or other posters' concerns about going to law school as an older student, because they have to deal with the legal profession as it is now (or will be in 3-4 years).


Fair enough, but never assume that any statutory provisions/requirements are rooted in empirical evidence, because trends influence law as much as does empirical evidence - if it exists in a given situation. Trends change over time, which is why small businesses are no longer exempt from discrimination laws. Moreover, the other types of discrimination you mention can be hidden under the guise of age-related reasons for rejecting employment, denying promotions/benefits, disparate discipline, etc.. It probably isn't uncommon for people of color or women to be rejected because of both age and race or age and gender. Therefore, all types of discrimination are equally important and deserve the same attention.

My assumption that firms are probably discriminating by age comes from my understanding that a firm has less incentive to hire older workers because of perceivable difficulties in training, and tendencies to be risk-averse. Do big law firms want to offer equity to a well-performing, 55-year-old partner who will likely retire before he can earn his keep? No.

Consider also that law firms are the last firms one would expect to discriminate. That is why they probably get away with more of it, the same way so many catholic priests and teachers got away with molestation for years.

I'm not ant-Catholic and do not mean to offend any Catholics or teachers here. Just using an analogy.
Last edited by PDaddy on Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Nova
Posts: 9116
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2012 8:55 pm

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby Nova » Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:18 am

This thread makes me miss some posters from 2012 :[

wisc14
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:31 am

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby wisc14 » Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:50 am

I'll be 32 at graduation. I found that it is an asset, especially if you have solid work experience.

User avatar
PDaddy
Posts: 2073
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2010 4:40 am

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby PDaddy » Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:15 am

wisc14 wrote:I'll be 32 at graduation. I found that it is an asset, especially if you have solid work experience.


I notice that the schools really value life experience, and rightly so. If I was an adcom, I would definitely not reject someone because of age (young or old), but I would subscribe to the NU model, where there's a solid bump for work experience. It's just a way of emphasizing life experience, IMO. So maybe the ideal law candidate is between 27 and 35.

User avatar
Hipster but Athletic
Posts: 1993
Joined: Mon Sep 23, 2013 2:15 pm

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby Hipster but Athletic » Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:59 am

If you're oldish & not a dud, you should go to business school because you likely have some solid experience and you can "take it to the next level".
If you're oldish & a dud, you should go to law school because past experience doesn't really matter, and "start fresh".

Put another way, if you have no problem throwing away everything, law school makes sense. 22 year olds have nothing, and thus can throw shit away real easily. Sunk costs.

When oldish people are at the top of the law class, people think, "that's cool that that guy figured out something he's good at and didn't stay a loser his whole life."
When oldish people are at the bottom of the class, people think, "wow, that guy was a loser before law school, and now he's not gonna even be a good lawyer."


*unless patent law after Ph.D., then people just think, "that stinks that that guy spent so much time doing science and doesn't really like it"

User avatar
ExBiglawAssociate
Posts: 2090
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:06 pm

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:27 pm

sidhesadie wrote:So, if you are a woman, just bear that in mind. You're going to have to figure out how do deal with it, either by figuring out how to signal you don't have kids and aren't planning on it, or by figuring out how to signal that the kids are covered because you have a house husband or something. :lol:


I wanna be a house husband god dammit. :x

pablocela
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2015 5:19 pm

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby pablocela » Fri Mar 27, 2015 5:32 pm

reverendt wrote:I graduated LS at 39. I don't think it hurt me, although I'm not in biglaw.

This is really encouraging. I'm 33 and going back to school to get a bachelor's degree- with the goal of getting a Law degree. so I'm looking at getting a law degree in my late 30's or early 40's. May I ask what kind of law you're in?

User avatar
cigarman
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat May 22, 2010 2:43 pm

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby cigarman » Sat Mar 28, 2015 2:36 pm

I went to law school at age 45. Passed bar at age 48, got Tax LLM from GULC at 49.

There are some hard "truths"

First age is a bell curve. If you imagine age 20 at one end and age 45 on the other. The closer to the ends of the bell curve the less attractive you are to law schools and Big law. People who have some work experience then go to law school in late twenties are probably top of the desirable curve.

If you look under the research studies on the LSAC web site you will see a study about those test takers based on age. The average LSAT is 150 when your around 23. When you are 40 its more like 144. 75% of over 40 applicants aren't accepted to law school. Its because those study skills and the desire to put up with all the 1L crud goes away. Or the realities of you have kids etc, and can't live eat breath law 24/7. Same reason big law wants young and stupid. You don't have a life, they can "OWN" you and make you work 80 hours a week.

Its safe to say the older you are, the less chance you have at big law. But if that's not important... then who cares? The bigger question is dealing with the older you are on the down side of that bell curve, will you survive law school or take on debt and never pass the bar? Practice law? Get a job? Its difficult when you are so much different in age than your classmates. Especially in group projects. But 30's is fine. But go in with your expectations realistic.

User avatar
UnicornHunter
Posts: 13507
Joined: Wed May 01, 2013 9:16 pm

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby UnicornHunter » Sat Mar 28, 2015 2:38 pm

roranoa wrote:If I graduate law school I would be around 33-34 yrs old.
(What kind of response would this initiate? Would people be like "Whoa! What happened?)

Most people I know (those who went straight through or had 2-3 yrs of WE) graduated LS when they were 27,8. These people would make partner at 33-34.


What kind of disadvantages would I have for being old? Other than the fact that I have to work for people younger or the same age as me?


TO be fair, those people will never make partner and neither will you (or me).

User avatar
UnicornHunter
Posts: 13507
Joined: Wed May 01, 2013 9:16 pm

Re: How old is too old for law school?

Postby UnicornHunter » Sat Mar 28, 2015 2:40 pm

Nicolena. wrote:I've been dreading putting off applying next cycle because I feel like starting law school at 26 would leave me at a great disadvantage. However, after reading this thread, I'm starting to feel like maybe it would be a good idea. My lsat score is not where I want it to be and I recently up-rooted my life and relocated. I feel very overwhelmed and l don't think I have enough time to prep for February. Oddly enough I was supposed to take December and I felt really great about everything, but when it was rescheduled and everything I started reevaluating everything. Am I just getting cold feet?


The only time putting off law school is ever a bad decision is when you're sitting on a golden LSAT (173+) and it's 4 years old.




Return to “Ask a Law Student / Graduate”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests