Second Careers: Law School After 40

by Jamison Koehler on March 4, 2012
U.S. Capitol building

I was 43 years old when I started law school.

I’m sure my grades would have been much better had I gone to law school right out of college.  I was pretty intense back in college. I read every assignment and obsessed over every detail, never missing a deadline, and I am sure I would have brought this same diligence to the law had I chosen that route instead of graduate school.

I am also pretty sure I would have hated it.  Without the life experience, perspective and patience I had as an older student, I would have viewed every reading assignment as a task that had to be performed as opposed to an experience that should be savored.  Always in a hurry back then, I would not have taken the time to sit back and allow the content to wash over me.  I would have struggled with the law instead of yielding to it.

It was a strange experience socially. My wife and I were friends with many of the faculty members, mostly through our children.  They had been to our house for dinner, for school social functions, or to pick up a child.  One of the professors told me later she was glad I never took one of her classes – it would have been awkward, she said, to have me sitting in her class.

As for my fellow students, my wife and I would occasionally join the gang out for a night on the town – maybe once or twice a semester the first year.  It was only on these occasions that I truly felt the age-difference. My classmates included some pretty hardcore partiers, and that could get awkward.  I also thought that many of them were overly deferential to my wife, with a few trying to use the occasion as a job interview. No, I would tell these people, you don’t really want to work for my wife.  Although she might seem pleasant now, she can be a very demanding employer.

I found out later that my classmates had speculated about my age.  It was like that scene in Saving Private Ryan in which the soldiers form a pool to bet on Tom Hanks’ civilian occupation.  After our last exam of the spring semester first year, I went out for a quick drink with some of my classmates and the waiter asked for all of our IDs.  One of my classmates found an excuse to look at mine before I put it back into my wallet.  I could see him scanning the ID for the birthdate, and there were some knowing looks around the table.  Somebody had just come into some money.

Otherwise, with my twenty- and thirty-something classmates every bit as smart as I was, I hardly noticed the age difference in the classroom. In fact, I probably suffered from the overconfidence phenomenon my father had often described from his experience teaching college English. The best grade in the class, he said, never went to the kid in the front row with his hand raised all the time. That kid, believing he already had everything figured out, never put in the time necessary to really master the material. Instead, the top grade almost inevitably went to some insecure kid sitting in the back row who never said a thing all semester.  I was the insecure kid in the back row in college; the cocky hand-raiser in law school, a favorite, I am sure, in any “Gunner Bingo” game, or whatever they call it these days.

In addition, identifying more with the professor than with my fellow classmates, I always felt duty-bound to help out a professor who was struggling with class participation. When our professor in employment discrimination brought in his mentor from private practice to speak to the class and nobody had a single question after the presentation, I quickly came up with something I urgently needed to know.  Given the look of relief and gratitude of the professor’s face when I raised my hand, I was expecting the honor of “distinguished class participation,” if not an outright A, for the class.  I didn’t get either.

After the respite of law school, the transition back into the working world as a neophyte in the practice of law was also a challenge. Although I have never suffered from an outsized ego, I have to admit that it is not easy to start off in a new and completely different career.  It can be humbling to have to figure out everything anew.

I also went from the showcase office in the Ronald Reagan Building I occupied during my previous career to sharing a table with three other interns during an unpaid summer at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia.  As an office director and then chief of staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, I was used to people stopping their conversation when I stuck my head into an office.  My time was valued back then.  And I was accustomed to people laughing at my jokes.  Somehow a first-year law student or intern isn’t quite as funny.

I think of George Bush the Elder complaining about how his golf game suffered after he left the presidency.  I think of Hamilton Jordan’s dismay at having to book his own travel arrangements after leaving the Carter White house. And I recall a former EPA official’s extreme gratitude when, while still at the Agency, I returned his phone call.  What do you mean, I asked him?  You used to be the Deputy Administrator.  Of course I would return your call.  You would be surprised, he said.  Very surprised.

I don’t know that I could ever have worked at a law firm after graduation.  For one thing, I didn’t have the grades to get a big firm offer. For another, I don’t know if I had the stomach or patience to report to some associate half my age.   I am sure this feeling would have been reciprocated; as one person put it, people don’t like ordering around someone who is old enough to be their parent.

From my wife’s experience, I also knew how difficult life as a law firm associate can be.  If deadlines for partners come from courts and from clients, associates get their deadlines from the partners.  This means that if the partner wants to take the weekend off to play golf, the associate will get the assignment on Friday afternoon, with the product due first thing Monday morning in time for the partner to review it upon his return. Working every weekend to fit someone else’s schedule may be fine when you are a young and ambitious lawyer.  It is very different when you are older.

Starting my legal career at the Philadelphia public defender’s office was thus a good fit. Although we were provided with plenty of guidance, training, and support, we were also given considerable autonomy.  Yes, there were certain organizational obligations, like doing office or prison intake interviews on the days we were not in court. I tell you, there is nothing more daunting than having to interview 10-15 cranky or scared inmates at the House of Corrections or Riverside Correctional Institute for Women. But for the most part, we were left on our own after we picked up our files for court each week.

I often took my files home in the afternoon so that I could be home when our kids got back from school.  I would then prepare them at night while the children did their homework or slept. In other words, I never fell victim to the mentality that you need to have the boss see you working late every night, even if you are just fiddling around on the Internet. Although leaving the office early at the public defender’s office was strictly verboten, my supervisors often saw me on the way out the door with my briefcase full of files and never said anything about it to me.

At the same time, of course, I understood the trade-offs I was making by not being in the office later into the day.  I knew from my previous career that the bonds you develop with your co-workers – to say nothing of the impression you can make on your superiors – tend to happen during these hours.  During my first or second year at the EPA, we were unmerciful in kidding an older colleague who had left an important memo, due by close of business that afternoon, half-written on his computer so that he wouldn’t miss his carpool.  Those boring old people, we thought, with their home lives.

Given my overarching interest in autonomy, the logical transition from the public defender’s office was to solo practice.  I never wanted to be a “lifer” at the public defender’s office.  Apart from the elite group of lawyers that handled the most serious offenses, I don’t know how anybody can suffer the abuse you get from indigent clients for that long.   Not every burnout is quick and public, although we had those too.  I think of my office mate – a dyed-in-the-wool liberal who had worked at legal aid prior to coming to the PDs office – hanging up the phone after a difficult call with a client and telling me he had come to the point in which he despised our clients.  Three months later he was gone, having found himself an entry-level job in private practice.

Although I wanted to honor the three-year commitment I made to the defender’s office when they hired me, I had always planned on eventually going out on my own. After a first career spent in government, the notion of running my own business appealed to me. I had a good relationship with many of the retained lawyers who circulated the halls of the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia, and I often asked them for specifics.  I also consulted two public defenders who had returned to the office after having practiced on their own for a couple of years. How was private practice? Why did you come back?

I had no problem making a living, one of them told me.  But I did get pretty tired of chasing after people for money.  I like it here where all I need to do is practice law.

When my wife and I decided to return to D.C. for other reasons, I initially hoped to hook up with a criminal defense firm in D.C.  Although I knew my way around a courtroom pretty well by this point, I was looking for some type of apprenticeship to ease the transition to a new jurisdiction.

When I didn’t have any takers (and in truth, I didn’t look all that hard), I decided to forego the apprenticeship and jump directly into my own practice. The moment of inspiration came to me one afternoon while I was updating my resume. I had a strange resume anyway, and as I was fretting about how to explain the gap on my resume during the time I spent as a stay-at-home father, I thought, why not be hired by one of the few people who wouldn’t require an explanation on anything:  yourself.  It was a big relief to put aside that resume.

There are many benefits to being older when it comes to solo practice.  A younger version of myself would have missed the structure and social aspects of a job within a formal organization.  Now I welcome the autonomy.  If I don’t like the client or the case, I say no thank you.  If there is an illness in the family or if I want to take a vacation, I do not need to ask anyone for permission.  I am accountable only to clients and the courts.  And, although I spend most mornings at court, the rest of the day is mine.  I am home most days when our son – the last of our children still at home – gets back from school.

While having to learn new things can sometimes be hard on the old ego, it can also be reinvigorating.  My wife and I are at the age at which our friends who are lawyers have now been practicing for over 30 years.  You can only do the same thing for so long – even if it is what you love to do – before it gets old.  If some of them are now thinking about moving in a different direction, I tell myself that, although I may be well behind them with respect to the practice of law, I am way out in front when it comes to the second career.  Woo hoo. I never like to lose at anything.

More like this:

On the True Value of a Law Degree

Advice to an Incoming IL:  Humble Yourself Before the Law

On Becoming a Solo Criminal Defense Attorney Right Out of Law School

No One Told You That Solo Practice Was Going To Be Like This

My Career As A County Prosecutor

130 Comments on “Second Careers: Law School After 40

  1. Im 35 and you have just become my biggest inspiration. Thank you kindly sir.

  2. Mr. Montgomery:

    A youngster! What are you doing here on this blog entry for old people like me? (Thank you for your kind words.)

  3. WOW! What a great and timely post. I just turned 40 and I am thinking very seriously about a career change. My current career has left me feeling unfulfilled and the thought of doing that for another 30 years makes me want to jump out a window.

    My biggest concern is how do I take care of my family while going to school full-time? My wife is a stay-at-home mom so I need to figure out how to offset my current job. A challenge indeed but there has to be a way.

    Thanks for the great post.

  4. This post is just what i needed to “hear”.i will be forty by the end of this year and while I’ve had a fairly successful working life, i still harbour regret for not sticking it out in the pre-law program i started when i was 25 years old: before baby number 1, 2 & 3 came surprisingly into my world.
    My poor husband may just finally pack his bags and leave but i owe it to my sanity to pursue this life long dream. Thank you for the inspiration

  5. Glad I found this post. I’m a 38 y.o. real estate paralegal who just took the lsat. The closest schools to me are lower tier, and I really don’t feel like chasing a 170 lsat at this point in my life to go anywhere prestigious anyway.

    In my research I have found mainly negative input regarding school choice and job opportunity, which worries me. Funny thing is, most of the attorneys that i know or have worked for just went to the closest option available, and they seem to be doing just fine. I don’t know if big law is my thing anyway. I like real estate law and i know it pretty well. I work remote with the autonomy you mentioned, and that fits my lifestyle and personality. Still, the next leap is a big decision, and as a father and husband, showing results puts a lot of weight on my shoulders.

    Anyway, it’s nice to see a more positive view from someone that matches on a personal level.

  6. Progress report. I have obtained every Lsat book known to man. I am also taking writing classes through NAU online. I will be attending the Les Brown seminar next month and many others this year. I want to be around powerful speakers and powerful people as often as I can. I have to make this a reality.

  7. I am 67. Taking the LSAT this June. Will be representing people overwhelmed or intimidated by misuse of the law.

    Prefer common sense and clear concise language to the rising tide of bull commonly found in legal documents intended to obscure meaning.

  8. how can i start my law study in age 40.plz provide to me some information.

  9. Ranjana: Law school may not be right for some people.

  10. Intent, I took the LSAT at 58, and graduated last spring with a 3.5 GPA and three semesters on the Dean’s list after being the CEO of a large health care company where I had two personal assistants. Took the bar in July and failed by 6 points after my state increased the magic number needed to pass by 15 points last year. Signed up to take it in Feb. then panicked 10 days out and postponed. It may be too late for me but I went to class with a man who was 72 when he graduated and he just tried a case in Federal Appeals court. Found the students to be very accepting of me and went out of their way to help me along the way.

  11. Thank you sir. I am encouraged by your story. I am 53 and i have loved to do law ever since my teens but there was no internet, no moral or financial support, nothing. But i have kept the desire aflame to date. I lost my son last year December and doing law now will help me to throw myself fully into it. Most important thing is that I love law with a passion. Incidentally, I happen to be a very positive woman, I look and feel 25 years younger than my actual age. I am in Uganda and believe there are still many entry points in the profession.

  12. Jamison:

    I’m really grateful for your comments. It strikes me as courageous and selfless that you would share publicly your experience transitioning to a law career in your 40’s. You certainly inspired me.

    I’m 36 and working in accounting. From a economic perspective it makes little sense to lose income for three years, pay over one hundred thousand in educational expenses, and then take a job that would probably pay less than I’m making in accounting. There are plenty of blogs and forums saying it would be a foolish decision.

    I’m very torn however and feel I’d be giving up on my dreams if I settled for the career path I’m on now; yet I realize how fortunate I am to have my current career and the security it provides to my wife and me.

    I’d love to hear more about your discernment process to take the risk of going to law school at a later age. Im curious to know whether you have any suggestions or practices to aid people like me in making this decision.

    Thanks, again.


  13. Mike:

    Thank you for the kind words. Yes, there are certainly trade-offs, and I hope I don’t paint too rosy of a picture in my blog entry. For example, had I stayed with my secure job with the federal government, I would have been able to retire soon with some great benefits. Part of me is jealous of my colleagues who remained in those jobs. At the same time, it is hard to imagine not have taken on the new challenges. And being a lawyer is such a better fit for me than my previous work.

    These are, of course, all personal choices. I really don’t have an answer for anyone, not even for myself.

  14. I just want to say, Thank you for sharing your journey. It is inspirational and tells me that I am not alone. I am 36 and have last year graduated in Law in India. In my current job, I am heading sales for a company and you have quite clearly listed down the subtle and emotional problems one would face when switching careers. Going Solo is a great alternative I guess.

  15. Truly inspiring. I will be 40 in July and still 18 months shy of finishing my undergrad degree! I work in law firm management and do well with a long established work record, but am very much interested in attending law school. I found that Temple has a part time program, blocks from my current office. With a toddler and a teen, I realize the challenges, but I’m hooked on the idea of law school. This would put me at about 45-46 upon completion. Is a 20 year law career worth this investment?? I’m surely in the right place and with the right people to inquire and make a truly informed decision, but it’s a huge commitment.

  16. Thank you for this. I’ve read several of your entries and they’ve been very helpful. I’m 42 looking into a career shift. I’ve always loved the law but as a person who didn’t go back to school until later in life it always seemed a bit out of reach. The idea of starting in law (with the accompanying school debt) at this age is terrifying. However, now that I’m on the other side of my bachelors (I finished last May with a 3.95 GPA!) law school is suddenly not feeling quite as out of reach as it once did. These posts have definitely helped at putting me more at ease about this crazy idea. 🙂

  17. Thank you for writing this. I am entering law school this fall at age 47 and with the intention of working for a public defender’s office or agency to learn the ropes and then having a solo practice in criminal defense. Lately I have been second guessing myself, so this was a very nice read.

  18. Jamison. I want to express my gratitude for this blog. There are so many other sites discussing reasons against pursuing law and at times it get a bit daunting, especially for us non traditional candidates. My circumstance is analogous to yours in that I am in my early 40’s , I have a successful career , and have decided to start over. I read your article several months ago and it inspired me to to take the lsat . I start law school in 3 months. I do have a question . Did you ever feel insecure that your age would prevent employers from selecting you versus younger candidates ? If so what did you do to combat this insecurity ? If not, could you comment on what internship and job interviewers look for? I’m leaning toward criminal law / defense or prosecution.
    Thank you again.

  19. Gina: I hate to say it but, yes, I think there is age discrimination out there. People don’t want to have to boss around someone their parents’ age. When I came down to D.C. from Philadelphia, I tried to get some document review work while I got my practice up and running. I applied to 22 different document review referral agencies and got seven interviews. But not a single job. Ever. I know it wasn’t that I was underqualified because I had better qualifications than many of the younger people I knew were getting jobs. And it wasn’t that I was overqualified either because there were people with better resumes also getting work. For me, working as a solo practitioner solves that problem. But I know that is not for everyone. Best of luck to you. Thanks for commenting.

  20. Jamison , thank you for your prompt response. I have spoken with many attorneys , I work with several, most advise that success in employment is dependent upon who I know, luck , and my performance. My school has a strong alumnae network and I’m hoping my current experience will allow me to outshine some of my competitors. Nonetheless, I agree solo practice solves the problem but practical experience in litigating and case review is essential to opening shop. How was your experience securing internships ?
    I currently am a sole practitioner in my field and have been successful for over a decade. I agree it’s not for everyone.

  21. Enjoyed your post very much. I graduated from a state law school last year at 53 (found your blog researching for my pending solo practice). Enjoyed your observations and can definitely relate. I can still remember the girl who sat behind me one class in my last year asking how old I was – no one else had ever asked. I thought she was going to faint when I told her I’m a 53 year-old grandfather of four with a son in his early thirties. I took it as a compliment but I don’t know. Over all though I must say, as you seem to indicate, I enjoyed my time with the young ones greatly. They were sharp, very polite to a person, and entertaining as could be…once they figured out I wasn’t some very ill-conceived administration plant.

    I too believe that I would have scored higher when I was younger due to a greater willingness to fully saturate myself in it, join the toughest study groups, and leverage my then youthful competitive need to win before others and for them to know it. But I don’t think I would have learned as much. At this age and experience (thirty years in the military) the material was either readily identifiable as standard academic fill, or very interesting and potentially useful. The attack for each was obvious and sufficient.

    Where my age really came into play though, and what helped me take the bold step of going solo, was how looking fifty worked in practice. I got a six-month gig in a DA’s office doing misdemeanor cases under supervision. There, while in reality I was the coffee-boy on a five attorney team, everyone in the courtroom other than the judge and clerks in the know thought I was the lead. The way I walked around, leaned down to quietly confer (you want more creamer?), or could cast an affect with a glance and a slow placement of my readers when stating the charges for the record, those kinds of things that it takes some gray hair to pull off right, I already have. Same in my advanced litigation seminars. I can tell a story to regular people. Been doing that a long time. Plus there was that prospect of being in a position where a thirty year-old could bust my chops for not answering his text at 11 PM. Nope. Uno solo for me por favor.

    Anyway, thanks for the useful blog and the encouragement to step out and do it. Very best to you and yours.

  22. Hi Jamison, thank you for the post. I am applying to take criminal law and was asked to go for an interview after my LSAT test. I am 40 years of age and still wondering if i am too old to do a law studies…thank you and all those that posted here for the encouragement…i wonder if i will ever get through the interview, but will definitely do my best!

  23. Loved reading this as I am 41 and heading to law school in August. Scared and excited at the same time– it’s encouraging to hear about others who have chosen this path later in life. Thank you for posting.


  24. I adored your personal adventure and will be taking the plunge into Law school next month in my 50’s. It is never too late. If you have the passion and desire do it. Beyond the desire to practice, I want to open my mind for greater analysis which applies to any field even if you stay where you are career-wise.

    The issues I have had being an older, non traditional student are:

    1. Law schools don’t offer wide tuition incentives (read discounts) for older students who they know be more difficult to place in jobs. I received a small scholarship but not much and less than younger students in my same financial situation and class standing.

    2. If you attend law school evenings – the Professors assigned to teach are often the B team. The better Faculty are assigned to full day students which is a schedule some of us older students can’t make with our mortgages and family obligations.

    3. There are law schools that will not take you at an older age. I was told outright by one law school I was too old to attend by the Director of Admissions, a JD herself, who should have known better.

    4. We often don’t do as well on the LSAT as a group having been away from school so we don’t get access to the higher scholarship funds, better education and more school options as younger students.

    5. The incredulous looks when I say I am going back. Usually it turns into “good luck” but the first few moments are sheer disbelief!

  25. Well, this was EXACTLY what I needed to read right now! I am a 42 year old single mom, who has 2 teenagers. I was an 8th grade English teacher and I also have a Masters in Humanities, thinking I would like to teach at the community college level. My real passion however, has ALWAYS been for the law. I have considered going to law school, but knew I would probably be the oldest person in the class, and didn’t know if that would make me feel uncomfortable. Your article has inspired me and given me a new perspective. Sometimes, age can be a boon to us, as we are more responsible and focused. Thank you for your insight! It is very valuable!

  26. I am a 49 year old female (50 in May but I’m not 50 yet!). I am thinking about going to law school. I would be 53 when I graduate. My financial situation will be extremely difficult. I am terrified of not being able to find a well paying job. However, it’s always been my dream. Have I lost my mind?

  27. I am now 37 wanna to do LLB a great document which I read above.great job sir over 40.

  28. Thank you so much for that article!

    It’s just what I need. Insight and ideally inspiration on taking the big leap into law in my 40s. You’ve answered a lot of questions.

    The best part might be the point that you can only do something, even if you love it, for so long before needing to change it. Switching in mid life may seem a late starting late, but 20-30 years seems like a pretty good length of time to pursue any career, first or second.

  29. Michael:

    Do it. And before you know it, you will be sick of this career too!

  30. Wow! Thank you for this need fuel. I am finishing up my BA in the Spring of 2017 and take the LSAT Dec 2016. I turned 47 Oct. 1st of this year and I am determined to be a lawyer. I have always wanted to practice law in the public sector and I am so inspired by your words.

  31. Thank you for posting this. I been back and forth with law school perusing for about 3 years. I’m 46 now. Still thinking about it. I’m concerned with finding work being older and African American. But, those factors are not an end all to pursuing Law school. Reading your post gave me a jolt. I may peruse it when I finish my undergraduate degree shortly. Thank you.

  32. I’ve read this blog a couple of times, and it is certainly inspirational. I’m a 41 yo empty nester, my son is out and on his own now, and I finally feel like it’s my time to pursue the dream I’ve had since I was in high school. I’ve worked as an assistant county manager, lobbyist, policy analyst, election officer, grant writer and administrator, middle school teacher… I have a lot of experience in a lot of different areas of government, but I’ve always felt “nope, this isn’t it either.” All of the jobs I’ve really wanted required a law degree. While hitting the pause button on my professional life for three years is quite frankly terrifying, I think it’s the right decision for me. I’ve been waiting 20 years for this.

  33. As I was Researching blogs on starting law school “later in life,” I was glad tu run into your old article on second careers and law school after 40s. I read each and every single one of your words and those by the kind commentators you humbly responded and shared their stories. “Mom, just go to law school and get something ‘solid,’ said one of my daughters who is finishing her BA this December. “Honey, I’ve been telling you, you should be a lawyer,” told me my husband yet another time. “Just try law school, you seem to be good at it,” have been telling me my parents and friends. Why? Why? I don’t want to be a lawyer. I have a career in Journakism, writing and teaching higher education. Why is everyone telling me to become a lawyer. And so in my recent move to a new big city and the need to restart my life and career again, I’ve been looking into PhD programs….only to run into professors who suggested -guess what?- Law School again!! Why, why? And so at 49 and already with three careers (bilingual Journalism, Education, and Licensed Realtor), I will study and prepare to take the LSAT very soon. Very hesitant, scared that my brain will not be as sharp as before, knowing that my age will be a huge obstacle when looking for a job, not being able to help my husband anymore with household expenses, and terrified of having to pay school loans afterwards (with two daughters in college.) I figured, maybe people saw in me what I have not been able to see for myself. All of these comments have been great inspiration. Thank you everyone. Thanks Jamison.

  34. At 33 I was still second guessing myself about that 5 year journey to become a lawyer – my dream job – because I have always had an investigative and talkative disposition. All my studies have ended in first class (summa cum laude) qualifications. On the contrary I am in a dead end job where supervisors slip their underqualified friends into posts above me that I am qualified for which has me thinking I’m settling yet here I was thinking I was too old to change careers. Thanks for an inspirational read!!

  35. Jamison,
    I currently have over seventeen years in the Army and Army Reserves. I have a BBM from Indiana Wesleyan U. I have been a Regional and divisional manager for a couple of great companies. Now, at 41, I have decided to attend Law School. I also am nervous about the changes to occur. But at 1:10 AN, reading this, I am feeling much more enlightened and inspired. Thank you sir.


  36. Just turned 48 in November. Have been told by my mom since I was a teenager that I should be a lawyer. (Argumentative?) Taught middle school English for a year and a half, and high school speech, drama, and debate for a semester each before staying home with babies. Since then I have had multiple part time jobs, in an effort to take some pressure off my husband while homeschooling the above mentioned babies. The oldest is in college now, the middle one graduates in May and the youngest wants to go to school next fall where her Dad teaches. It is time for me to go full time in SOME direction and law has always been in the back of my mind, along with journalism which I have dabbled in part time.
    Have I lost my mind that I am even considering this? The thought of answering to those twenty and thirty somethings makes me cringe, as I have experienced enough of that already in those part time positions.
    Caring for my family has always been my highest priority, but now I feel that finding something full time that actually interests me (law) might be caring for my family in the best way possible. Still praying about this one.
    Thank you for your perspective. I have enjoyed reading about your experience and the thoughts of the others who have commented as well.

  37. Thank you for your thoughts. I have 16+ years in the Navy and when I retire at 47, I’m contemplating law school. However, like many others who’ve commented, I have many doubts of my timing. Obviously, there are many success stories, like yourself, that have accomplished this. My worries isn’t so much in finding employment post law school graduation, although I know there’ll be challenges. My hesitation lies in the fact that at 47, I still have 8 and 10yr old daughters to raise. I’ve missed and will miss some of their life until my retirement in the Navy, is more time away from time to study law something I’m willing to do? I know these are personal questions I alone must answer, but how was your home life during your 1L? I understand that 1L is the most difficult period of law school for almost all law students. How were you able to balance that? Did you still work, or since your wife practiced, you were able to devote full time to law school? Thank you again for your blog and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and anyone else who wants to comment also.

  38. Mike C:

    Thank you and others for your comments.

    I had the luxury of a wife with a good income. I went full-time as a day student. I took my classes during the day so that I could be away while the kids were at school.

    I studied in the evenings when the kids were doing their homework or had gone to bed.

    Yes, first year was the toughest because you are making the adjustment. As they say, they scare you to death in the first year, they work you to death in the second year and then they bore you to death in the third year.

    I did not kill myself at law school. My priorities were different, and I no longer had the interest or ability to work late into the night. So, although I was able to make one of the law journals through the writing contest, my grades were average.

    That said, I loved law school and I love being a lawyer. Do it!

  39. Thanks all of you for sharing very inspiring and motivating life stories about getting into Law School after our 40’s.
    I am not alone for sure.

  40. Thank you for this write up,

    I live in the South Pacific region.

    I turn 36 this year, and doing my Masters this year. I was searching the web for how late it is to become a lawyer and came across your blog.

    Thank you for the insight. I served in the British Army, i was a journalist, and now i teach Human Rights at uni. I never have been interested in law until now, and want law to complement my human rights background.

    I have a strong interest in the justice system and its flaws, so that is the reason i have been strongly contemplating doing law. Living in a developing country, i feel that being a lawyer, can be empowering in improving life for all.

    The comments in this blog is also very encouraging, and i plan to start law next year.

    Thank you!

  41. Thanks so much to all for your comments. This is encouraging. I started law school at age 40 in 1998 while I worked full time as an IT director for a large company. I was on moot court teams with an emphasis on litigation and oral advocacy. I then passed the bar just before my employer merger with another company and relocated. I was made an offer to join the new company, and with just a couple of years before a service milestone I accepted.
    Bottom line is this: I have always wanted to practice law and now I am afraid I’m too old and it’s too late for me. I am going to be 60 this year. It’s been years since I was licensed. I’ve kept my CLE’s current. I’m thinking of getting an LLM in cyber and privacy law to leverage my IT background and refresh my education. Any thoughts out there?

  42. What a great encouragement?I appreciate Its what I have been looking for

  43. Thank you for your comments. I’m turning 43 this year and I just finished my first year of law school. I’m very interested in criminal defense also. Thank you for being a resource for me to come back to when I’m having doubts about changing careers!

  44. I am a 66-year-old college graduate. I have a five year degree in design that includes architecture and landscape architecture, land planning, visual design and product design. I could certainly expand on my degree and get a masters and work and in a number of areas.

    The thing is, my husband is dead because Glaxo Smith Kline sold a BPH drug called Avodart and my husband took it. It was the only drug he ever took in his life. He lost his life three years ago, and he will have been gone four years in July.

    My son had an adverse drug reaction due to having been given Trileptal by a psychiatrist after the death of my husband. My son did not have epilepsy and it is doubtful what his exact diagnosis was. The drug caused him to become violent and he faces a felony assault charge which really should be a misdemeanor charge. His life as a brilliant Princeton graduate/economist will never be the same. I spend quite a bit of time researching the drug, accounting for one in 500 such adverse events. The drug was used off-label.

    A few months ago I took my dog in to have her teeth cleaned and the vet illegally gave my dog Rimadyl. My dog was a gift to me by my husband. I fought her death for weeks and weeks, hour by hour and my dog survived taking one of the most vicious drugs on the market. Rimadyl is sold by Pfizer despite many dog owners mourning the deaths of their dogs because dogs cannot take NSAIDs.

    I am not in particularly good health, but the idea of becoming a lawyer and suing drug companies appeals to me enormously. I was once an “A” student and I wonder what others think about the aging brain. I am considering ordering many different books to study for the LSAT. I would be the type of lawyer who works solo. I am currently aware of some drugs that are on the market for which research has not been done on African-American men because I picked this up researching the drug that killed my husband. I’m also independently wealthy and everyone encourages me to just travel and have a nice time. But I am the type of person who needs to throw themselves head-long into something that I consider important. All my life I have wanted to use my time to learn to become a writer but that seems to isolating to me at this point. I believe that interfacing with people who have been injured by drug companies would make my life worth living.

    I would love to hear what others feel about the journey that I am about to begin. Maybe there are some alternatives to becoming a lawyer. I simply want to study the science and learn the regulations that get drugs on the market and do something about the third greatest cause of death in this country.

    I am not a person who was ever given anything. I worked my way through five years of college. When I met my husband my life became considerably easier, and I would feel very comfortable paying for law school. I feel that no information is wasted. About the happiest time in my life was when I was in college. I am heartened by the idea that others have gone to law school at such late ages.

  45. I was 50 when I started and just graduated a week ago. I will be taking the Bar in July this year. It is doable, but don’t kid yourself, it will not be a cakewalk.

    Life experience will make many of the concepts you study less abstract since you can link them to concrete examples. Many of the things you may have experienced in life and did not give much thought to why it was done, will have the reasons revealed to you. I previously never gave much thought to why wills, contracts, checks, loans, etc. operated the way they do. I just took them as the way they were done. Now, after law school, it makes more sense to me.

    You will likely find that your understanding of some of the concepts is more varied and interesting than a recent college graduate with little life experience. If you do it, buckle up and be ready for a heck of a rollercoaster ride.,

  46. It has really been an interesting read, and to be honest this is exactly what I need to stimulate and encourage myself that the career shift am about to make is the right thing to do and also that it is achievable.
    I had a seventeen years work experience with the Civil Service in my country and currently working with an Oil and Gas logistic company. At 42 years and with a B.Sc and MSc, going back to study law again is some thing I find exciting but also scary.
    I do not intend to look for work again, my plan is to go solo if and when I come out of law school.
    Thanks so much for the experience which you’ve shared, it is timely and has further served as the best support I need at a period such as this one.

  47. God bless you, I am 34, Mother of 5 girls, bilingual and feel that my vocation is to be a lawyer. There is nothing worst than not trying, and it is NEVER to late. I thank you for your post. It has been an inspiration for me. Today I will visit a college near me. To follow my dream.

  48. Thank you! This post is very encouraging!

    I started Law School in the Fall of 2016 at 39 and I can relate to your experience. For anyone going down this road who considers themselves “older” realize your experience will be unique from other older students, but similarly challenging, and rewarding as theirs.

    I am a 2l now, and I am looking for help deciding if being on one of my schools secondary journals, and the time commitment it takes, is something that is too valuable to pass up? I can see myself wanting to work somewhere for a year or two but ultimately see myself in a solo practice. Big law is not realistic for me. So I wonder how being or not being on a journal is going to benefit me besides it being something on my resume.

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