Becoming a Lawyer at a Later Age | 5 Benefits

Written by Lisa Sharpe

I left a solid career as a tenure-track college professor with 24 years in academia to become a lawyer.

After almost a quarter century, I had burned out and needed a change.

Now, this former professor is a law student. I'm double the age of most of my law school peers, the oldest law student at my school, and older than all but one of my professors.

Hi, my name is Lisa. 

I’m a second-year law student, age 55, married, middle class, with two kids in college... and I never imagined myself going to law school at this age.

Yet, here I am.

But, here's the kicker... law school is the best decision I ever made.

If you're later in age and considering going to law school, then I'm here to tell you to go for it!

When deciding to become a lawyer, the first hurdle isn’t your age, your financial status, how long you’ve been out of school, age discrimination, the job market, or anything else.

Instead, the first hurdle is making an irrevocable decision that YOU are going to GO FOR IT

Fortunately, there are many compelling reasons to take the next step into law. In this post, we'll start with five motivators that will jump-start your new journey!

You will gain a new, exciting career that will last a lifetime. 

Let’s face it, you wouldn't be reading this if you were thinking about retiring in your 50’s.

No, you’re reading this because, deep in your heart, you’ve always thought about the law as a career.

But, you might be thinking you’ve missed that opportunity.

You have not.

You are going to live a long life. Why plan for 30 years of “retirement” when you could instead be working on your next act?

Will it take a bit more planning than it does for someone right out of college? Yes!

But, you aren’t on a college student’s timetable.

Now is the time to use your valuable experience and make a step-by-step plan to pursue the dream you’ve always had in your heart.

I know you are probably squeezed for time, money, may have kids in college, aging parents, and much more. Those are challenges, but not obstacles.

Trust me, I get it.

People often told me I would make a great lawyer, but after so much time as a college professor, I had a nagging voice in my mind telling me all sorts of reasons why I couldn’t pursue law at my age.

That voice of self-doubt would give me every excuse possible as to why I wouldn’t be successful: “You can’t do that because . . . no one will hire you at your age . . .  you won’t get into law school anyway . . . you’ll have no way to finance it . . . “  and so on.

I could come up with every excuse NOT to pursue law.

However, I made a conscious decision. I chose to ignore my self-doubt and simply take the next step, without any expectation of success or failure. 

I unplugged the “NO” reflex in my brain!

Once I took “NO” off the table and dispassionately examined all my options, I extinguished the fear of failure.

All routes to a law career were on the table. I decided that if I didn't succeed at something on the first try, I’d try again, or try a different route.

For example, I decided that if I had a poor LSAT score, I could always take the GRE. If I didn’t get into law school the first time, I’d apply again next year. If I couldn’t go full time, I’d go part time. Once I turned off the “NO” reflex, it was easy to keep moving forward a step at a time. 

Guess what?

I never had to implement a Plan B, because I gave each step everything I had.

Turns out, my test scores were respectable on the first try, and I got into all but one of the law schools to which I applied. I chose a respectable state school that gave me the most scholarship money.

This can be you... and BETTER! 

You will de-age your mind and rebuild the brainpower of a 25-year old.

Why do many lawyers and judges serve into their 80s?


Attorneys keep their minds sharp every day with positive cognitive challenges. You can be that attorney!  

In fact, you can reclaim the intellectual ability you had as a much younger person.

Before law school, I was starting to feel a bit off. I began to forget things like names and phone numbers. My short term memory was starting to go.

Sometimes I couldn’t remember why I went to the kitchen.

I began having the dreadful thought: “I’m losing it. I’m getting old.”

Then I started my first year of law school.

Readings, lectures, working legal problems, challenging writing and research classes, and final exams were difficult, but not impossible to manage.

In fact, by using the organizational skills I developed over the years, I made the Dean’s List my first year.

However, I didn’t realize what else I had gained.

I got my memory back! This can be you too!

I guarantee that law school will help redevelop your brain. According to the National Institutes of Health, emerging brain science indicates that our cognitive abilities can improve as we age with “cognitive training or sustained engagement in a novel task or environment.”

Law school is designed to challenge your brain so it's perfect for improving cognitive abilities.  

Your days and nights will be filled with interesting reading and writing. You’ll become a better thinker, writer and speaker. Your critical reasoning skills will be honed to their sharpest edge.

You will live a purpose-filled life.

Why sit around doing sudoku and crossword puzzles when you could be fighting for civil rights, getting the injured and disabled the settlements they deserve, going into politics, protecting victims of crime, or defending the accused?

You're not done making an impact on this world.

By deciding to become a lawyer at a later age in life, you will join an exceptional and trending minority - the “unretired” lawyer.

These are not lawyers living a dreary life, waiting to turn 65 and do nothing. These are lawyers living for their passion and purpose.

This can be you!

Now is the time in your life to reach for your purpose and mission for justice.

Your age will be your strength.

Your long life has given you an incredibly valuable asset -- experience and wisdom.

You have dealt with life issues that simply haven’t come up with younger lawyers yet. 

As a result, you've likely developed a deep level of patience and compassion from life events like raising children, caring for your own parents, continuing long friendships, divorce, and breakups.

The joys and tragedies of your life will lead to your clients turning to you for guidance and counsel, which will help you stand out from the crowd.

You can control your legal career with a virtual law firm.

If you’ve made it this far reading this article, I’m confident that you are not interested in becoming a cog in the law-firm machine. 

At this point in your life, you're going to want well-deserved control.

Control of your schedule.

Control of your cases.

Control of your income.

You're not alone!

This mentality is why so many lawyers are starting their own virtual law firm.

To help, Law Venture's free Ultimate Guide to Starting a Virtual Law Firm shows how you can get your future law firm up and running on a shoestring budget.

In today's world, it's never too late to become the lawyer that impacts the world on your terms.

Final Thoughts

I hope I’ve encouraged you to pursue the very attainable dream of becoming a lawyer at a later age. 

There has never been a better time for you to take a chance on yourself and work for justice, start a law firm, and improve your mind while developing the unlimited earning potential of someone much younger.

Instead of counting your pennies in Social Security, go to law school and then start your own virtual law firm so you can live life to the fullest. 

You can do this!

About the Author

Lisa spent 25 years as a professor of graphic design, digital media, and higher education administration before she decided to make the jump to law school at age 54. She loves to encourage and motivate people to reach for their highest potential! She is a fitness fanatic who is in semi-retirement from her favorite sport, obstacle racing, until after law school. She is married with three girls, three dogs, and three cats.

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Becoming a Lawyer at a Later Age | 5 Benefits

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