Thinking about Law School at 41

(Please Ask Questions and Answer Questions)
09042014
Posts: 18282
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:47 pm

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby 09042014 » Fri Dec 23, 2011 4:20 am

Find a way to really help the poor. They don't need lawyers.

auntjulia
Posts: 46
Joined: Fri Dec 10, 2010 2:31 am

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby auntjulia » Fri Dec 23, 2011 5:01 am

Other posters, am I missing something?

He has a 3.78, he's a military veteran with an impressive record and a URM? Op, what kind of URM?

With these three qualifications I imagine you're a lock for Georgetown part-time if you get an LSAT score of 167 or higher, and you could probably get in with something much lower if you're African American or Hispanic. Look in the LSAT prep section of this site and start prepping hard. I think you should set your sights higher than George Mason.

As for whether or not this is a good idea, if I were you I wouldn't spend four years doing law school part time if you weren't going to make law your full-time job afterwords, unless you're EXTREMELY bored. Unless you have a lot of free time to do this pro-bono stuff I just don't see why you think it would be worth your time to get the degree.

Also, other posters, why wouldn't his 4.0 from his B.S. in IT count towards his LSAC GPA? It's just another transcript from an undergrad institution that he attended, right?

03121202698008
Posts: 3002
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:07 am

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby 03121202698008 » Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:20 am

memo2partner wrote:You have to get into a top 14-that needs to be your goal. With law, it matters big time what school you go to (employers will take somebody at median at Georgetown over somebody top 10% at Mason). With your military background, are you eligible to do JAG? If you want to do public interest, JAG will definitely be a good experience (and you could transition into DOJ from JAG). If you want biglaw, time to lock yourself in your bedroom and start studying hardcore for the LSAT (you really need to be at a t-14 to have any realistic shot, especially in DC--Mason and UDC don't cut it).


He's too old to be commissioned. At least not without a waiver which they don't give to entry-level JAGs. You have to be able to reach 20 years of service by age 55. HIs 6 counts towards that but by the time h graduated he couldn't get in another 14.

Nor does he have enough years left in his career to do 4-6 years in JAG, then US Atty. At OP's age, he needs to be considering retirement. He has essentially a full-ride with CoL thanks to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. So, he needs to consider his current savings and what he'd need to make post law school to be able to retire. If he'll have enough to retire...being a PI lawyer could be a decent semi-retirement job.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:08 pm

LSDAS only counts grades earned for one's first bachelors degree.

albanach
Posts: 1011
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 10:05 pm

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby albanach » Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:45 pm

As a non-trad though a little younger than the OP, I have a few thoughts.

Firstly, OPs age pretty much demands full time school. The Careers counselors I've spoken to me have already cautioned me about hiring issues, I don't imagine they'll improve by being even older.

Even if OP can get full funding and avoid any loans, he's still looking at losing $300,000-$450,000 in lost earnings. It doesn't sound like OP's seeking out a BigLaw position, so then you have the problem of decent paying PI jobs having salaries in the $50-60k range. I think the OP really needs to investigate if there's a position he really wants that would pay a salary he'd be happy with before making this leap.

If he's simply keen to avoid another undergraduate degree from a diploma mill, there's always the option of an MBA. With OP's experience, that might open up a broader range of post graduation opportunities than a JD. MBAs are also more amenable to part-time study and there are respected MBA's from good schools that can be done online.

uh1999
Posts: 39
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:20 am

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby uh1999 » Fri Dec 23, 2011 6:32 pm

blowhard wrote:
memo2partner wrote:You have to get into a top 14-that needs to be your goal. With law, it matters big time what school you go to (employers will take somebody at median at Georgetown over somebody top 10% at Mason). With your military background, are you eligible to do JAG? If you want to do public interest, JAG will definitely be a good experience (and you could transition into DOJ from JAG). If you want biglaw, time to lock yourself in your bedroom and start studying hardcore for the LSAT (you really need to be at a t-14 to have any realistic shot, especially in DC--Mason and UDC don't cut it).


He's too old to be commissioned. At least not without a waiver which they don't give to entry-level JAGs. You have to be able to reach 20 years of service by age 55. HIs 6 counts towards that but by the time h graduated he couldn't get in another 14.

Nor does he have enough years left in his career to do 4-6 years in JAG, then US Atty. At OP's age, he needs to be considering retirement. He has essentially a full-ride with CoL thanks to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. So, he needs to consider his current savings and what he'd need to make post law school to be able to retire. If he'll have enough to retire...being a PI lawyer could be a decent semi-retirement job.


Right. LOL. I would miss the cut by four years, actually. The Army was/is hard up for officers and upped the cut off age to 42.

With respect to retirement, right again. I am thinking about something I can do into my golden years. IT is a young man's game given that one must keep abreast of rapidly changing technology. Yeah, the U.S. Code changes, but not at the rate of IT.

I thought PI (assuming personal injury) is viewed with contempt by lawyers and others.

uh1999
Posts: 39
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:20 am

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby uh1999 » Fri Dec 23, 2011 6:37 pm

auntjulia wrote:Other posters, am I missing something?

He has a 3.78, he's a military veteran with an impressive record and a URM? Op, what kind of URM?

With these three qualifications I imagine you're a lock for Georgetown part-time if you get an LSAT score of 167 or higher, and you could probably get in with something much lower if you're African American or Hispanic. Look in the LSAT prep section of this site and start prepping hard. I think you should set your sights higher than George Mason.

As for whether or not this is a good idea, if I were you I wouldn't spend four years doing law school part time if you weren't going to make law your full-time job afterwords, unless you're EXTREMELY bored. Unless you have a lot of free time to do this pro-bono stuff I just don't see why you think it would be worth your time to get the degree.

Also, other posters, why wouldn't his 4.0 from his B.S. in IT count towards his LSAC GPA? It's just another transcript from an undergrad institution that he attended, right?


URM: 11:59 PM.

I hate the idea of not being measured by the same metric as everyone else. But, again, that's the world we live in.

I never considered G'Town, because I don't like the idea of being out of my league. The law school is brimming with uber-talented students.

In my opinion, a law degree is a great degree to acquire. The rigorous mental challenge makes this pursuit appealing.

User avatar
Grizz
Posts: 10583
Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:31 pm

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby Grizz » Fri Dec 23, 2011 6:39 pm

uh1999 wrote:The rigorous mental challenge makes this pursuit appealing.

lol law school isn't a rigorous mental challenge, it's a miserable slog

uh1999
Posts: 39
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:20 am

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby uh1999 » Fri Dec 23, 2011 6:40 pm

albanach wrote:As a non-trad though a little younger than the OP, I have a few thoughts.

Firstly, OPs age pretty much demands full time school. The Careers counselors I've spoken to me have already cautioned me about hiring issues, I don't imagine they'll improve by being even older.

Even if OP can get full funding and avoid any loans, he's still looking at losing $300,000-$450,000 in lost earnings. It doesn't sound like OP's seeking out a BigLaw position, so then you have the problem of decent paying PI jobs having salaries in the $50-60k range. I think the OP really needs to investigate if there's a position he really wants that would pay a salary he'd be happy with before making this leap.

If he's simply keen to avoid another undergraduate degree from a diploma mill, there's always the option of an MBA. With OP's experience, that might open up a broader range of post graduation opportunities than a JD. MBAs are also more amenable to part-time study and there are respected MBA's from good schools that can be done online.


Right, I am not seeking out BigLaw. That window of my life has passed.

An MBA wouldn't help me in my field.

uh1999
Posts: 39
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:20 am

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby uh1999 » Fri Dec 23, 2011 6:41 pm

Grizz wrote:
uh1999 wrote:The rigorous mental challenge makes this pursuit appealing.

lol law school isn't a rigorous mental challenge, it's a miserable slog


LOL... how many hours a day do you "slog" outside of class?

User avatar
Grizz
Posts: 10583
Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:31 pm

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby Grizz » Fri Dec 23, 2011 7:05 pm

uh1999 wrote:
Grizz wrote:
uh1999 wrote:The rigorous mental challenge makes this pursuit appealing.

lol law school isn't a rigorous mental challenge, it's a miserable slog


LOL... how many hours a day do you "slog" outside of class?

It's not just the time demands (long hours), but also that law school doesn't teach you how to practice law. So you work really hard learning fairly inapplicable bullshit. Still sounds like a rigorous mental challenge?

albanach
Posts: 1011
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 10:05 pm

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby albanach » Fri Dec 23, 2011 7:11 pm

uh1999 wrote:Right, I am not seeking out BigLaw. That window of my life has passed.

An MBA wouldn't help me in my field.


I'm unsure how a law degree would help you in your field either? I was under the impression you'd like to do something new. You sound like you'd be well qualified for a managerial role with your background and experience.

A law degree doesn't do much by itself. If you're thinking of something other than biglaw, I think it would be worthwhile to decide what that something is before going to school. Most the somethings that I can think of would come with a substantial pay cut.

uh1999
Posts: 39
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:20 am

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby uh1999 » Fri Dec 23, 2011 7:27 pm

Grizz wrote:
uh1999 wrote:
Grizz wrote:
uh1999 wrote:The rigorous mental challenge makes this pursuit appealing.

lol law school isn't a rigorous mental challenge, it's a miserable slog


LOL... how many hours a day do you "slog" outside of class?

It's not just the time demands (long hours), but also that law school doesn't teach you how to practice law. So you work really hard learning fairly inapplicable bullshit. Still sounds like a rigorous mental challenge?


Sounds like a well orchestrated game.

uh1999
Posts: 39
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:20 am

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby uh1999 » Fri Dec 23, 2011 7:31 pm

albanach wrote:
uh1999 wrote:Right, I am not seeking out BigLaw. That window of my life has passed.

An MBA wouldn't help me in my field.


I'm unsure how a law degree would help you in your field either? I was under the impression you'd like to do something new. You sound like you'd be well qualified for a managerial role with your background and experience.

A law degree doesn't do much by itself. If you're thinking of something other than biglaw, I think it would be worthwhile to decide what that something is before going to school. Most the somethings that I can think of would come with a substantial pay cut.


A law degree wouldn't help me in my field. It would help me change fields once I have lowered my mortgage to a level that would allow me to take a pay cut.

At my company, most of the managers do not have MBA's. Hell, some don't even have an AA. Managers are chosen based on longevity (Peter principle) and who they know. That's why an MBA wouldn't help me. That's the nature of defense contractor work.

ArmyVet07
Posts: 76
Joined: Tue May 19, 2009 6:11 am

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby ArmyVet07 » Fri Dec 23, 2011 8:04 pm

uh1999 wrote:
blowhard wrote:
memo2partner wrote:You have to get into a top 14-that needs to be your goal. With law, it matters big time what school you go to (employers will take somebody at median at Georgetown over somebody top 10% at Mason). With your military background, are you eligible to do JAG? If you want to do public interest, JAG will definitely be a good experience (and you could transition into DOJ from JAG). If you want biglaw, time to lock yourself in your bedroom and start studying hardcore for the LSAT (you really need to be at a t-14 to have any realistic shot, especially in DC--Mason and UDC don't cut it).


He's too old to be commissioned. At least not without a waiver which they don't give to entry-level JAGs. You have to be able to reach 20 years of service by age 55. HIs 6 counts towards that but by the time h graduated he couldn't get in another 14.

Nor does he have enough years left in his career to do 4-6 years in JAG, then US Atty. At OP's age, he needs to be considering retirement. He has essentially a full-ride with CoL thanks to the Post 9/11 GI Bill. So, he needs to consider his current savings and what he'd need to make post law school to be able to retire. If he'll have enough to retire...being a PI lawyer could be a decent semi-retirement job.


Right. LOL. I would miss the cut by four years, actually. The Army was/is hard up for officers and upped the cut off age to 42.

With respect to retirement, right again. I am thinking about something I can do into my golden years. IT is a young man's game given that one must keep abreast of rapidly changing technology. Yeah, the U.S. Code changes, but not at the rate of IT.

I thought PI (assuming personal injury) is viewed with contempt by lawyers and others.


I believe PI generally means Public Interest which (I hope) is not viewed with contempt.

On the subject of age discrimination, I have always been deeply troubled by the fact that any employer (and especially the government) would refuse to consider applicants above a certain age. The argument that they need to retire by 55 strikes me as arbitrary. I always assumed the younguns were just afraid of the competition.

acrossthelake
Posts: 4431
Joined: Sat May 16, 2009 5:27 pm

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby acrossthelake » Fri Dec 23, 2011 8:20 pm

ArmyVet07 wrote:
I believe PI generally means Public Interest which (I hope) is not viewed with contempt.

.


PI can refer to both Public Interest or Personal Injury. You usually use the presence/absence of contempt to tell which the person means. :wink:


I think the OP has a good shot at Georgetown part-time if he gets a good enough LSAT score. Whether there'd be anything for him to do afterward part-time I have no idea.

albanach
Posts: 1011
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 10:05 pm

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby albanach » Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:50 pm

uh1999 wrote:
albanach wrote:
uh1999 wrote:Right, I am not seeking out BigLaw. That window of my life has passed.

An MBA wouldn't help me in my field.


I'm unsure how a law degree would help you in your field either? I was under the impression you'd like to do something new. You sound like you'd be well qualified for a managerial role with your background and experience.

A law degree doesn't do much by itself. If you're thinking of something other than biglaw, I think it would be worthwhile to decide what that something is before going to school. Most the somethings that I can think of would come with a substantial pay cut.


A law degree wouldn't help me in my field. It would help me change fields once I have lowered my mortgage to a level that would allow me to take a pay cut.

At my company, most of the managers do not have MBA's. Hell, some don't even have an AA. Managers are chosen based on longevity (Peter principle) and who they know. That's why an MBA wouldn't help me. That's the nature of defense contractor work.


Yes, I understand that but thought you were looking for a change. If so, I'm suggesting you explore all the avenues available to you, including law. What I was getting at is that a degree like an MBA (from a good business school) can help you travel down a great many, whereas a JD will only assist you in a few. If you want a law degree, at least have a vague idea about what you'll be able to do with it at the far end. And be realistic - it's incredibly hard to work on your own immediately upon graduation. As has been said many things, law school doesn't teach you to be a lawyer it teaches you, allegedly, to think like one. The learning how to be a lawyer comes after graduation.

What I'm saying is, if you want to go to law school, and I have no doubt that you could get into some great schools with your stats and do well in school, you also want to have an outline of a plan for what you'll do afterwards.

User avatar
Rotor
Posts: 917
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2008 11:06 pm

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby Rotor » Sat Dec 24, 2011 5:13 am

OP: I'm a navy vet who started law school at 43. As others have noted, your age is going to put some constraints on your long term career options, but less so in the short term. During 2L interviews, I did have some firms who asked questions that obliquely referenced my age but they were largely with firms I wouldn't have fit well with anyway. As it ended up, I feel my experience was a bigger asset than my age was a detriment as I performed better than I would have expected based on my 1L grades. Don't let that concern you.

What concerns me with your original post is the suggestion that you could work law on the side. It's a huge commitment for a "part time career." You don't necessarily need to know what practice area you want at this point, but you do need to have a more specific goal than what I saw here. (for example when you say you could take a pay cut after paying down your mortgage, will that be with current job earnings? Law job earnings? If the latter, you will need a well paying full time gig.). Also, lawyer salaries tend to be bimodal--pretty much either 160k at current biglaw market or in the 35-45 k range so you wouldn't just be taking a haircut from your current salary. (I am on my phone and can't search well and would be indebted to whomever can post a link to the thread with the bimodal salary graph/discussion)

Post 9/11 GI Bill pays full tuition at a public school. Private school is capped at 17.5k/year. Either way you'll also qualify for a housing allowance at the E5 married rate regardless of yor final rank, a book stipend and other odds and ends.

Best of luck sorting out what you really want-- but it CAN be done as a later-in-life law school student.

uh1999
Posts: 39
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:20 am

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby uh1999 » Sat Dec 24, 2011 7:42 am

.
Last edited by uh1999 on Tue Dec 27, 2011 7:40 am, edited 2 times in total.

uh1999
Posts: 39
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:20 am

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby uh1999 » Sat Dec 24, 2011 7:46 am

acrossthelake wrote:
ArmyVet07 wrote:
I believe PI generally means Public Interest which (I hope) is not viewed with contempt.

.


PI can refer to both Public Interest or Personal Injury. You usually use the presence/absence of contempt to tell which the person means. :wink:


I think the OP has a good shot at Georgetown part-time if he gets a good enough LSAT score. Whether there'd be anything for him to do afterward part-time I have no idea.


Thanks. :)

uh1999
Posts: 39
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:20 am

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby uh1999 » Sat Dec 24, 2011 7:56 am

Rotor wrote:OP: I'm a navy vet who started law school at 43. As others have noted, your age is going to put some constraints on your long term career options, but less so in the short term. During 2L interviews, I did have some firms who asked questions that obliquely referenced my age but they were largely with firms I wouldn't have fit well with anyway. As it ended up, I feel my experience was a bigger asset than my age was a detriment as I performed better than I would have expected based on my 1L grades. Don't let that concern you.

What concerns me with your original post is the suggestion that you could work law on the side. It's a huge commitment for a "part time career." You don't necessarily need to know what practice area you want at this point, but you do need to have a more specific goal than what I saw here. (for example when you say you could take a pay cut after paying down your mortgage, will that be with current job earnings? Law job earnings? If the latter, you will need a well paying full time gig.). Also, lawyer salaries tend to be bimodal--pretty much either 160k at current biglaw market or in the 35-45 k range so you wouldn't just be taking a haircut from your current salary. (I am on my phone and can't search well and would be indebted to whomever can post a link to the thread with the bimodal salary graph/discussion)

Post 9/11 GI Bill pays full tuition at a public school. Private school is capped at 17.5k/year. Either way you'll also qualify for a housing allowance at the E5 married rate regardless of yor final rank, a book stipend and other odds and ends.

Best of luck sorting out what you really want-- but it CAN be done as a later-in-life law school student.


Thanks, for your input. I plan to pay down my mortgage with my current salary. Since, my mortgage is the only debt I have, I am going to attack the principal. In 2017, if the remaining balance is at an acceptable level, then I will make the full transition to be an attorney. If not, well at least I will have added a couple of letters to my name. *self-directed sarcasm*

Speaking of 1L studies, what skills do I need to develop or refine? The idea of reading books on informal logic comes to mind. Is there anything else?

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

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby PDaddy » Sat Dec 24, 2011 9:08 am

freestallion wrote:Wait, first you say you are not willing to sustain a pay cut, and then you say you want to represent poor people??
Further, I am not prepared to sustain a 50% pay cut. IT professionals with security clearances can earn between $100,000 and $150,000 in the DC area. If I didn't have a mortgage, I would gladly take the pay cut.

Since my motivation to attend law school is to earn a law degree and represent folks who cannot afford an attorney, I am perfectly content with practicing law pro bono and part time after law school. Another route is to parlay a job in the legal department of my employer.


This makes no sense. NO way you will be making $100,000 to $150,000 as a private lawyer from schools like George Mason; and there is NO wayyou can make that kind of money as a public interest/legal aid/poverty lawyer.


That's like saying there's no way he will become a Hollywood star. Who is anyone to say that? He likely won't make that type of dough right off the bat, but he can make it. I do know of a civil rights/personal injury lawyer who left insurance defense to hang up his own shingle and essentially sue insurance companies. In his first 18 months, he has settled three civil rights cases ranging between $300-500K. He took 40% of each plus costs. Do the math. He's doing quite nicely on his own, in fact earning three times what he made as an associate at his boutique firm. He got a sweetheart of a deal on his luxurious downtown office, which is about 150 square feet. The building that houses his office is also home to several other solo practitioners and a few of the top law firms in the city (one Vault 100). All you need is three or four good cases a year (plus a couple of other quick, easy small ones to keep you going while you work the bigger ones) and a few good connections to consult with if you get into a tough situation.

He's got it made, because he has already done such a great job with his indigent clients over the past 18 months that the word is spreading quickly. He has at least two more cases that will almost certainly settle in the next 6 months (a black girl wrongfully arrested and beaten by cops, and two wrongfully evicted black tenants who have produced direct evidence of discrimination, perjury and witness-tampering against the defendant real estate company). Both cases are valued in the mid/high six figures, if not more. In two years out of the gate, he could essentially pocket about $1M+ from six indigent discrimination/civil rights clients, not to mention the other smaller cases he has on the table. He graduated seven years ago from a well-regarded law school barely ranked in the top 75 of USNWR.

OP is not likely to enjoy that kind of early success, but he can build towards it if he is determined and smart. The shingle is the wave of the present and future, people.

albanach
Posts: 1011
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 10:05 pm

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby albanach » Sat Dec 24, 2011 4:25 pm

PDaddy wrote:That's like saying there's no way he will become a Hollywood star.


There's also thousands of probably quite talented individuals in LA, living in cramped, dingy apartments who will never reach stardom. The idea that because a few have been lucky enough to secure good cases that settled quickly and easily means hanging up a shingle is the future for law grads is hardly a logical conclusion.

Many of the highest paid lawyers will always be from small firms that get high settlement cases, be they personal injury, civil rights or class actions. Nevertheless, the vast majority of small firms rarely, if ever, get any of those cases.

If the OPs goal is to help people, that presumably means not simply turning away potential clients who have a case that's complex, unlikely to settle quickly, or likely to result in a low settlement figure.

fjsms
Posts: 31
Joined: Sat Jul 10, 2010 10:34 pm

Re: Thinking about Law School at 41

Postby fjsms » Wed Dec 28, 2011 9:33 pm

The best advice I got when I was considering law school was to only go to law school if I wanted to be a lawyer. I am a non-traditional student too, though slightly younger. At first I thought, hey, I want to go to law school, maybe I'll be a lawyer when I finish, maybe I won't. But after I received that advice, I spent a couple of more years thinking things through to make sure I really wanted to practice law. I decided that I did. I'm now at a T-14, doing reasonably well, and looking forward to a fantastic summer position. But law school is hard - personally, professionally, academically, and otherwise - particularly when you are sacrificing a good career to do so & you have a mortgage to worry about (both applied to me). You need something to get you through the tough times and, at least for me, that has been knowing that this is really what I want, and that what I am going through is a necessary step in getting to where I want to be.
Good luck! (And I agree with everyone who has said to do the best you can on the LSAT, leverage your GPA & your military background, and go to the best school you can as cheaply as you can).




Return to “Law School FAQ”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest