This one is personal. FindLaw's Greedy Associates blog offers three tips on "How to Know if You Are Too Old for Law School." Here they are, with italicized counterpoint from someone (me) who started law school at age 37 and was told in the first weeks by a professor not to tell interviewers that I was not interested in partnership because they would consider me too old to be tenure material anyway:
1. You don't need a law degree. Law school is not necessary for a change of career, especially for those who want to engage in nonprofit or public interest work. There are a ton of law-related jobs that don't require 3 years and $100,000 in debt. Plus, young attorneys are dumbing down their resumes. It may not be wise to smarten yours up.
Well, yes. If you're going to law school just to qualify for a particular job, make sure that you really need a J.D. for the job, or, that the J.D. will give enough of a leg up on the competition to make it worthwhile. And yes, make sure that you do the math on tuition and debt. But older students often are in better financial shape to undertake law school and smarter about how to do it cost-effectively. As for dumbing down your resume? If you have to do that to get a job, you probably don't want that job anyway.
2. Age discrimination. As unfortunate as it is, such discrimination persists. It's also a bit rampant at larger law firms. Older employees are often less desirable -- they're harder to mold and have less years to contribute.
You don't want to work for a firm that stupid, anyway.
3. Law school is high school. And it's not just the lockers, either. The insular environment breeds the same sort of pettiness and immaturity you experienced at the age of 16. You may try to stay out of it, but the drama is too pervasive to ignore. Even if your classmates are ignoring you because you remind them of their parents. Nontraditional law students have it hard -- perhaps worse than everyone else. So before you ditch the job, talk to attorneys who have done it before.
Yes, law school harbors and perhaps promotes a significant amount of immaturity (and not necessarily just in the student body) but it's not necessarily more than you may already be encountering in the so-called "adult" work environment you're leaving and it's certainly less than what you experienced at 16. Unless you find yourself reverting, your maturity will be a competitive advantage. Your odds of meeting a big new crop of best friends among the youngsters may not be great, but there will be some wonderful people among your fellow students and law school can be a terrific place to bond with them.