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How Old Is Too Old for Law School?

January 18, 2023


Reviewed by:

David Merson

Former Head of Pre-Law Office, Northeastern University, & Admissions Officer, Brown University

Reviewed: 01/16/23

If you’re interested in becoming a lawyer but are an older applicant, read on to find out how old is too old for law school. 

While there is no perfect age to attend law school, older applicants often wonder if they’re too late to pursue their legal aspirations and if they can keep up with the younger competition. 

If you’ve found yourself in a similar predicament and are debating whether or not you should apply to law school as an older applicant, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about attending law school at a later age.

What Is The Average Age Of Law Students?

The average age of law students is 25 or younger. Only 20% of law students are 30 or older. While only a small percentage of law students are above the age of 40, there have been several successful older graduates.

In fact, Alice Thomas graduated from the University of Pacific McGeorge School of Law at 79 years old, proving age is truly just a number when it comes to law school!

Attending Law School At A Later Stage: Things To Consider

To answer the question “how old is too old for law school?” the simple answer is there is no age that is too old for law school. While attending law school later is not as common as attending law school in your 20s, it’s still possible! 

There are even various advantages to attending law school at a later age:

More Experience

Older applicants have more life experience and skills that can benefit them in their legal education. They may even have more network connections, interview experience, and job search experience.

More Stability

Aside from being more financially stable and able to afford law school, older applicants may feel more stable in their lives to attend law school, especially if they’ve already pursued other careers. They may be less likely to question whether or not law school is the right path for them since they’ve already tried other paths!

Different Priorities

Older applicants are likely to prioritize their education over any other common college experience that young students care about. For instance, older applicants may be less interested in having a social life, allowing them to dedicate more time to their education.

However, while older applicants may have certain advantages over younger ones, there are also potential disadvantages. Considering these disadvantages, the more pressing question becomes whether or not it’s practical for older students to attend law school.

Your Application

While older applicants may have more relevant career experience to add to their resumes than undergrad students, making a big career switch is bound to be questioned by admissions committees. 

Older applicants must sufficiently explain why they’ve decided to pursue law as their final career in their personal statement or secondary essays to prove they won’t be making another big career switch anytime soon.

Additionally, many law schools prefer students to submit letters of recommendation from past faculty members. Since older applicants have likely been out of school for years, this may not be easy to attain. 

Your Commitments

As a student who has just finished their undergrad, you won’t have many commitments outside school. However, older applicants generally have families, houses, and other time and financial commitments they must consider. Law school is consuming in every way! It’s a huge financial and mental commitment.

Applicants must acknowledge that a significant part of the law school journey is not simply getting into law school but doing well in it! With young families, substantial mortgage payments, or other major commitments, these applicants may not have the energy or time to put into law school to be successful. 

Graduating from law school with poor grades or failed courses can ultimately harm these students’ chances of landing promising legal careers. 

Luckily, there are various online or part-time law programs that can make earning a JD as an older applicant easier!

Your Life Goals

While becoming a lawyer may be one of your life goals, you should also consider other goals you may have. While you earn your JD, you likely won’t have time to pursue or work towards other goals and may have to make sacrifices.

For instance, you may have to postpone vacations, miss your children’s recitals, or put off business ventures. You’ll need to weigh your goals to see if earning your JD is truly your top priority and if you can put your other aspirations aside for a few years.

Potential Discrimination

While older applicants graduate with the same degrees as younger ones, there is evidence to suggest age discrimination exists in the legal workforce. This means older students may have more difficulty finding full-time employment post-graduation.

FAQs: How Old Is Too Old For Law School?

Here are the answers to frequently asked questions about attending law school at a later age!

1.  How Old Is The Average Law Student?

The average law student is usually 25 or younger.

2. Is 40 Too Old For Law School?

No! There have been many 40-year-old law students that went on to have fulfilling law careers. 

3. Can A 30 Year Old Go To Law School?

Absolutely! Law schools don’t have an age limit on who can gain admission to their programs. However, considering 30-year-olds typically have more commitments than 25-year-olds, they’ll have to perfect their time management skills and figure out a schedule that fits all of their commitments. 

4. Is 57 Too Old For Law School?

No, but students must consider their career trajectory by this age if they attend law school. If they acquire their JD through a three-year program, they will graduate at 60. Considering most people retire at around 65, this doesn’t leave a lot of time for 57-year-old applicants to actually practice as lawyers.

Practicing law is also physically and mentally demanding, which may not be feasible for 60-year-olds. 

5. Are Older Applicants Less Likely To Get Accepted Into Law Schools?

Older applicants accepted into law school are shown to matriculate less frequently than younger ones. However, it’s argued this is not due to their age but rather their personal circumstances, such as only applying to schools close to their home or changing their mind after acceptance. 

6. Are There Benefits To Applying To Law School Later?

Yes! Older applicants are typically more confident in their decision to join law school, have more experience and skills to excel, and are more dedicated to their education because they make it their top priority.

Final Thoughts

The final verdict is you shouldn’t let your age alone limit your dreams of attending law school! Your age cannot determine how well you will do in law school or how prosperous your legal career will be!

As an older applicant, you’ll have to consider more factors than younger ones, but with enough dedication and commitment, you can successfully join law school at practically any age! 

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