Women in the Law

Law Student, 77, Looks Forward to Practicing in California

Alice Thomas is the only student at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento who has previously worked as an elevator operator.

Perhaps the oldest law student in the country, she is now 77 and will be close to 80 by the time she earns her juris doctor degree. However, Thomas is looking forward to law practice at a time when most attorneys have already retired from their jobs. She wants to be a public interest lawyer or a small practitioner looking out for the little guy, according to the Sacramento Bee.

One thing that has made it hard for her to spend time on her legal studies was her caregiver responsibilities to a longtime companion with Alzheimer’s. He died in 2005, and although his death was a crushing blow, it also made it easier for her to forge ahead at McGeorge.

“She’s given a lot of respect,” says professor Kathleen Friedrich, the supervising attorney at McGeorge’s elder law clinic, where Thomas works part-time. “It takes some level of spunk to do what she is doing. If you can stand up for yourself, you can stand up for somebody else.”

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