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AlanaJoy

Law school at 42? Line of credit?

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I’m 42 and returned to uni a few years ago full time to finish a BA. I’ve recently considered writing the LSAT and applying to a local school. Luckily it’s one with a pretty low tuition. 
 

I’m relatively confident that I’ll be accepted based on my grades and LSAT score (I’ll have to see how that goes to be sure). This is a very new idea for me and because of my age, I’m hoping to consider financial options and future implications before moving forward. 
 

I’ve come to accept the fact that I’ll likely need to work until I’m 80, I’m single and during my previous career didn’t save much. To be honest I was miserable and spent more than I should have. My finances were a problem but after many years of hard work I’ve resolved those issues and am pursuing things I’m interested in. 
 

I currently have ~$10,000 in student loans and am looking into options for funding law school. I see some students get lines of credit based on their admission to law school and wonder if the ability to access them is based on your age. Would I be ineligible because I have fewer years left to work? 
 

I’m interested to hear any of your ideas or thoughts that may be helpful for me to make an informed decision. Thanks 🙏 
 

I’m not committed to staying in my city, although I’d prefer not to move until after completing a JD program. I am open to a move after, either within Canada or somewhere warmer. 
 

 

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I'm 40 and applying for the upcoming admissions cycle. My financial situation is slightly different, I'm debt free without student loans for one, but I also spent the last 15 years working in the arts so it's not like I have a wealth of financial resources to draw on. I've had a few preliminary conversations with my bank and have been told that I would be able to access a student line of credit on favourable terms if I were to be accepted. Age didn't seem to play a factor, though that could be because of my history and credit rating with this financial institution.

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(If anyone wasn't quite sure who I was before, this'll do it LOL)

I'm similar in age and also got my undergrad and master's degrees recently, accumulating a similar amount of debt. I got a loan for law school in 2018 without any issues at all. If that $10k is your only debt, you shouldn't have any problems getting a loan.

But what I will say is don't go to law school for the sake of going to law school. Go because the thought of being a lawyer into your 80s seems like a wonderful way to finish out your final working years. If you don't love it, you'll end up with lots of debt and little to show for it. Think really, really, really hard about this decision. I made the decision impulsively and am very lucky that I fell in love with the law once in school, but if that doesn't happen for you it can become an expensive mistake.

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I am not in law school  but for what it is worth I know of a few people in their late 30s and early 40s who did the whole career change thing and have made it into law and medical schools. It can absolutely be done.  Your age means you are bringing life experience and maturity to the table which is valuable especially in a field like this. Your current student loans should not be a barrier to getting a professional student line of credit. I definitely agree with FortifiedEight though just make sure it is something you really want. All the best to you and good luck!

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19 minutes ago, FortifiedEight said:

(If anyone wasn't quite sure who I was before, this'll do it LOL)

 

I'm not sure who you are, but I'm always glad to hear stories of people who've made the same choice at a similar age. This will be my second career shift, and while it's something I've thought about for a very long time, it's still bloody nerve wracking contemplating a big, expensive decision like this at 40 years old :P

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2 hours ago, PlayALawyerOnTV said:

I'm 40 and applying for the upcoming admissions cycle. My financial situation is slightly different, I'm debt free without student loans for one, but I also spent the last 15 years working in the arts so it's not like I have a wealth of financial resources to draw on. I've had a few preliminary conversations with my bank and have been told that I would be able to access a student line of credit on favourable terms if I were to be accepted. Age didn't seem to play a factor, though that could be because of my history and credit rating with this financial institution.

Hi, thanks for sharing this. That’s great to know. I’ll make a plan to speak with my bank next week. My credit score is in the “Good” category according to Equifax so I hope I’d be a favourable candidate also. 

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1 hour ago, FortifiedEight said:

(If anyone wasn't quite sure who I was before, this'll do it LOL)

I'm similar in age and also got my undergrad and master's degrees recently, accumulating a similar amount of debt. I got a loan for law school in 2018 without any issues at all. If that $10k is your only debt, you shouldn't have any problems getting a loan.

But what I will say is don't go to law school for the sake of going to law school. Go because the thought of being a lawyer into your 80s seems like a wonderful way to finish out your final working years. If you don't love it, you'll end up with lots of debt and little to show for it. Think really, really, really hard about this decision. I made the decision impulsively and am very lucky that I fell in love with the law once in school, but if that doesn't happen for you it can become an expensive mistake.

Thanks for the feedback. This sounds like pretty solid advice. 
 

I had planned to continue in uni and finish my BA and apply for a masters program.  I love to research and critique. My love for arguments was what directed my attention to law. On one hand doing research and thinking/playing with ideas and information seems wonderful, that said, being able to use my critical thinking skills and love for analyzing information in ways that directly helps others would ultimately be more fulfilling. 
 

If you have any suggestions on what type of research might be helpful in making a decision I’d be happy to know. I realize that lawyers can do very different work so I’m reluctant to reach out and speak to any directly. 
 

Another thought, do you think my age will hurt my chances of finding work? 

Edited by AlanaJoy
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1 hour ago, IvanSinclair said:

I am not in law school  but for what it is worth I know of a few people in their late 30s and early 40s who did the whole career change thing and have made it into law and medical schools. It can absolutely be done.  Your age means you are bringing life experience and maturity to the table which is valuable especially in a field like this. Your current student loans should not be a barrier to getting a professional student line of credit. I definitely agree with FortifiedEight though just make sure it is something you really want. All the best to you and good luck!

Thank you! :)

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5 minutes ago, Luckycharm said:

Calculate your "opportunity cost".

 

Thanks for the suggestion. I guess for now I’m just wanting a sense of how likely I’ll be to get funding. Then assuming it’s possible, I’ll get started on the work of studying and applying to the school. 

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4 minutes ago, AlanaJoy said:

Thanks for the suggestion. I guess for now I’m just wanting a sense of how likely I’ll be to get funding. Then assuming it’s possible, I’ll get started on the work of studying and applying to the school. 

You'll always be able to get funding somewhere. The question is whether you'll be able to get funding on (relatively) favourable terms.

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11 minutes ago, AlanaJoy said:

If you have any suggestions on what type of research might be helpful in making a decision I’d be happy to know. I realize that lawyers can do very different work so I’m reluctant to reach out and speak to any directly. 

 

Another thought, do you think my age will hurt my chances of finding work? 

I would say speak to all the lawyers that you can. Ask them about what work they're actually doing, and what a day looks like. Lawyering can be a lot of paper pushing and admin work, so determine if that would keep you satisfied and engaged. Watch some law classes online if you can find some, although know only the most entertaining are likely to be put on the web for free. Read some legal textbooks to see if you're going to be able to handle the drudgery of readings. And then sit down and consider whether you are willing to put in weeks where you do literally nothing else but class, readings, writing papers, and law-related extracurriculars. Be REALLY serious about this. When I say nothing else, it will be nothing else. That's not every week, but it's enough that you really need to be dedicated to get through.

Also consider the social side of things. People over 40 in law school are ostracized, at least at my school. I and others near my age have made some friends, but generally we're left out of most social circles. We're viewed as weird and mostly made invisible. This is also true in regards to the administration - you won't find much in the way of accommodations or even understanding of having a life outside your parents' home. This is a frustration I butt my head up against frequently, and one that I struggle with resolving on my own. If you have a good support system outside of school, these issues may not be a huge deal for you. If you do not, they could derail your legal academic career before you begin.

As to your final question, yes. Unequivocally so. I focus a lot on the various job recruits in school as a way to keep myself sane. I work tirelessly to help colleagues find jobs. In analysing the 2L recruit, one thing stood out: people over the age of 30 were disproportionately not hired. I believe in the articling recruit it gets better, and likely even better when it comes to associate positions, but age will be a barrier at some firms. I think they're looking for young, "moldable" people, and they think we're too stuck in our ways, or won't take instruction, or we're unmanageable. In reality, we bring great experience, professionalism, likely won't be flighty, and know what we want in life. The firms who understand the latter are the ones you would likely rather work at anyway.

I think the biggest consideration in going to law school is if you will like it enough to get through it. It is a horror show at times for a variety of reasons. It is probably the hardest thing I've ever put myself through. If I didn't have a very strong support system (that I lucked into at school) and a masochistic bent, I wouldn't have made it through year one. You may be one of the lucky people who just adore it, but that's something to figure out before you shell out tuition and take the time to give it a shot.

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13 minutes ago, AlanaJoy said:

Thanks for the suggestion. I guess for now I’m just wanting a sense of how likely I’ll be to get funding. Then assuming it’s possible, I’ll get started on the work of studying and applying to the school. 

You can absolutely reach out to a bank and ask this question, and they'll be happy to chat with you about it.

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I am also 42. I have applied to 6 Ontario Schools for 2021 admission.

So what can I say?

Financially speaking, I believe that law school is a good investment in my future. Debt will be an issue for a while, and then the increased salary will offset that. I think "working until 80" is a bit of an exaggeration (unless you want to work past 65-70). On the other hand, those of us in our age group aren't going to be buying any yachts or sports cards any time soon.

Financially, it all depends on the money you presently make vs the money you project to make as  a lawyer. 

The big question for you and me, I think, is do we want a career change? Do we want to be lawyers? Financial considerations are almost a plus / minus zero.

9 hours ago, AlanaJoy said:

Another thought, do you think my age will hurt my chances of finding work? 

 No.

12 hours ago, AlanaJoy said:

I currently have ~$10,000 in student loans and am looking into options for funding law school. I see some students get lines of credit based on their admission to law school and wonder if the ability to access them is based on your age. Would I be ineligible because I have fewer years left to work? 
 

If you have a decent credit rating, I'm sure you can get a bank loan to cover law school.

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Well since you're asking, I'll offer my opinion as a mature student as well. I would really think about what your future is going to look like. You'll be nearly 50 when you finish articling. You'll have not only given up these next few years where you could be saving for retirement/buying property/investing etc. and instead not only not making money, but also going into significant 100k+ debt, that you'll likely take 10-20 years paying off. 

When I started researching going into law, I talked to some friends who practice, or know people who practice and I was legitimately SHOCKED at how little money some of them make (yes some of them make a lot and it's all relative), but I have a friend who is 5 years into practice, only making 50k base salary. This person is still living with roommates. 

That being said, if you think it's worth that sacrifice then you should do it because YOLO, and you don't want any regrets in life. Just make sure this won't be one. I did read here that you want to go into it to do research, and I'm curious why you wouldn't go to the Masters PhD route. The right program will actually pay you to do research, and I imagine you would be doing a lot more research in these than you ever would with law. Unless you're a research lawyer. 

 

Edited by legallybrunette3
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You've received some good advice so far. I will say that you may not be able to work til you're 80 for many employers, so keep that in mind.

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I'm 40+ in 2L.  For me, I've always wanted to go to law school.  Over the years, I've looked at the financial cost/benefit of giving up first career and going back to school...it didn't make sense financially but I know this is what I want to do! Agree with previous poster, it is a bigger decision at this stage in life...make sure you really want to do it.  Good luck with your decision!

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I also saw somebody mention that a lot of older students go back, and the sad fact is that some people are just going to have a worse time than others doing it. Especially people with single income, or children support, or not a lot of savings from working before. Again, I would never tell someone to not go for something, just know that their doing it might be a lot easier than someone else doing it. 

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Chiming in here as another old person, with not too much to add. Just want to agree with those above that this is a really individual thing. It all depends on what you value and what you want, and that simply isn't going to map accurately from my experience, or @2019hopeful's, or @SNAILS, or anyone else's.

Definitely keep asking questions on here to ask for details that will help you make your own cost/benefit analysis, but always remember that the analysis at the end of the day will be your own. Further, the financial cost/benefit is an important component - and the only one that is easy (or at least possible) to calculate - but don't forget to factor in all the "soft" things.

It's really difficult to place fuzzy concepts like happiness and fulfillment into the scales to potentially counterbalance financial considerations. It may even be hard to know which side of the scales they will go on. But these things are both important and personal, so you've got to really wrestle with yourself to make the decision.

Re: the LOC. No, the banks won't look down on you because of your age. The application is based on credit, admission to law school, and - as far as I can tell - nothing else. I have enormous debts and no valuable assets. I disclosed everything, and I wasn't even asked any questions. However, I had credit in the 890's at the time.

-GM

I am sort of a special case on this issue, I like to think. The decision was more or less made for me by external factors, so while I considered all this stuff, I don't have any built-in bias to justify my own decision, since I didn't really like to make it anyway. ;) I like to think that helps me stay objective!

Edited by GrumpyMountie
Forgot to, you know, answer the question.
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48 minutes ago, legallybrunette3 said:

I also saw somebody mention that a lot of older students go back, and the sad fact is that some people are just going to have a worse time than others doing it. Especially people with single income, or children support, or not a lot of savings from working before. Again, I would never tell someone to not go for something, just know that their doing it might be a lot easier than someone else doing it. 

I echo what you are saying. I don't think it is possible to work till 80 years old.

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