Are You Ever Too Old for Law School?

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on October 30, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Maybe you're looking for a career change. Maybe you've always wanted to be an attorney, but spent a few years raising a family beforehand. Perhaps you're just a glutton for punishment.

Either way, you're a bit older and thinking about going to law school. Should you? How old is too old for law school anyway?

The Age Difference

Technically, you can always go to law school. There are law schools out there who will take just about anyone, regardless of their age, LSATs, or ability to eventually pass the bar. As long as you can pay, you can go. And ever since the federal government extended student loans to grad students, pretty much anyone can pay.

But should you? Remember, even if you're in love with the idea of practicing, you have to get through three years of law school beforehand. Whether it's been five years since you graduated or 50, going back to school can be an adjustment.

To begin with, there's the age difference. Almost all of your fellow students will be in their early twenties. Some will have virtually no life experience but insist that they know just how the world works. (That will describe plenty of your law school professors as well.) If you're not good at working across the generational divide, you might be in for a lonely few years.

The Earnings Difference

More importantly, there's the cost. If you're paying your own way, you'll still be forking over at $40,000 a year in tuition alone. If you're taking out loans, you should have a plan for paying those off within your remaining working years. You don't want to end up turning your Social Security checks over to Sallie Mae. Consider estimating your total cost of attendance, the increase in income you can expect with a JD, and whether that investment will pay off before you're 65.

Once you get past the cost of school, age can be a great benefit in practice. You'll have industry experience, life experience, and relationship experience. Those skills can help you connect to clients and understand real-world legal problems. (Plus, you won't look like the kid at the grownups' table when you're just starting out.) So, while there might not be a many older law students in your classes, there are plenty of older lawyers to help you begin your career.

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