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What the 1L?! Readers Assess 66-Year-Old's Michigan Law Grad's Retirement Plan

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In April we told our online readers the heartwarming story of John Graves. Graves, now 66, had been accepted to the University of Michigan Law School some 40 years ago, but money and family obligations kept him from enrolling. At the time, the university promised accepted students, many of whom were being drafted into the Vietnam War, entry into a future class.

The lure of the law never went away for Graves. And Michigan made good on its promise—Graves graduated from the law school in December. He told a local Ann Arbor newspaper that he was happy to have pursued a different type of retirement. Readers had profoundly different thoughts on Graves’ decision to spend his retirement as a law student at one of the top law schools in the country.

Here are some responses:

I am surprised that the letter worked. I was admitted to UNC School of Law in 1973. I left after my first year for financial reasons and was told I could return and register to complete my degree at any time. When I went back in 2007, I was told that I would have to reapply.


This guy displaced someone who wants to make a living from law all so this guy can futz around. If he wants to study law, he should read a casebook, not waste a spot in an elite law school.

Lionel Hutz

As a 59-year-old 1L, I am buoyed, though not surprised, by Graves’ accomplishment. Other than the enormous debt I’ll face at age 61, this is definitely the best thing I could ever have done. And my 85-year-old father is proudly looking forward to being the oldest dad at my graduation in 2014.

—Barrie Denmark

Kudos to John Graves. We are close in age, and I applaud his searching, exploring spirit.



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