Is Law School a Good Idea for Middle-Aged Professional? Experts Warn of Risks and Bias

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A woman who describes herself as a middle-aged, midcareer government relations professional is thinking about a career change.

The woman tells the Careerist she is going through career counseling and is thinking about becoming a lawyer with a focus on public service law. The blog asked two experts for advice. Both urged the woman to interview lawyers who did the same thing. And both urged caution.

Marilyn Tucker, director of alumni career services at Georgetown Law Center, says some federal agencies have law related-positions that don’t require law degrees. “Ask yourself whether a law degree is really necessary for what you want to do. Is it worth the cost?” Tucker advises. “Keep in mind that you will likely make less as a junior public interest lawyer than what you are currently making.” Tucker also warns that going to law school at this stage is risky, and “age discrimination is definitely out there.”

Recruiter Dan Binstock of Garrison & Sisson says the woman may be a good candidate for an evening program at a law school. “Don’t quit your day job, in case you don’t like law school,” he says. “If you have enough money saved up and your debt will not be overwhelming, going to law school can’t hurt. But it also can’t hurt to learn how to fly a helicopter.”

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