Most applicants who apply to law school are under 25. For older applicants, work and life experience may be an edge in admissions.
EXPLAIN YOUR CAREER PATH
For older applicants, Kuris says, it’s important to explain your past career path in order to avoid “looking like chronic career changers with unrealistic expectations about a legal career.”
Specifically, according to Kuris, older applicants should convey their reasons for wanting a law degree and their goals post-law school.
“They also should avoid explanations for their career change that a law school education is unlikely to address,” Kuris writes. “For example, it’s fine for a former teacher to say she wants to work on education reform or ensuring classroom access for children with special needs. She could even say that teaching has been a fulfilling experience but ultimately can’t support her growing family. But if she says that she hates dealing with paperwork, office politics and ungrateful parents, law schools may wonder whether she will ultimately find satisfaction as a lawyer.”
WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO SUBMIT
When it comes to things like letters of recommendation, it may be more difficult for older applicants – many of whom probably haven’t been in touch with their professors from the past.
But, Kuris says, this underlines the importance of being timely in requesting letters of recommendation – especially for older applicants.
“It would help to give them ample notice and offer to provide a life update and details about old grades, comments, and examples of when the applicant performed well in class,” Kuris writes.
In terms of grades, according to Kuris, law schools tend to place less emphasis on grades that were earned several years back.
“However, these applicants should try to demonstrate their academic capabilities in other ways,” Kuris writes. “In their resumes, recommendation letters and personal statements, they can highlight recent examples of their skillful use of research and analysis. They might consider taking law-related courses at a local college, particularly if coming from an unrelated field.”
Fred Decker, of the Houston Chronicle, says the minimum requirement for many law schools is a bachelor’s degree.
“If you’re older than 50, chances are you earned your degree many years ago,” Decker writes. “If you do need to go back and earn a degree, no specific major is mandatory, but courses in math, public speaking, philosophy, and logic can all be useful.”
Regardless of age, all law schools value applicants who have been able to overcome some type of hardship.
And Kuris says this holds true for older applicants. Thus, it’s critical to be able to explain clearly your personal background and motivations for law school.
“Applicants with such backgrounds should use their personal statement, diversity statement or perhaps an addendum to thoughtfully provide context for an unusual circumstance,” Kuris writes. “They should make clear their readiness for the rigors of law school as well as their career goals, uniquely informed by their past challenges.”