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August 19, 2008

Graduating at 80, Alice Thomas Will Open Her Legal Practice

This article is truly inspirational.

Alice Thomas is the only student at McGeorge School of Law who grew up during the Great Depression, the only one old enough to have worked as a waitress at a drug store or held down a job called elevator operator.

Perhaps the oldest law student in the United States, Thomas, who turns 78 next month, has designs on being a lawyer.


The big question is why? Why go through the notoriously difficult challenges of law school and why start a practice so late in life? Why spend her savings and take out loans just to pay for school? Why learn all you have to learn and do all you have to do just to pass the bar exam, if you're only going to use that knowledge for a year or two or three or four?


"When you quit learning something new, you might as well crawl into a coffin and pull the dirt in after you," Thomas said.

When I was teaching at Quinnipiac University School of Law, one of my students was in her 70's and went back to school while she was caring for her terminally ill husband. She wanted the mental stimulation and an environment of young intellectuals in order to feel alive.

Interestingly, (and, please, this is not about me at ALL) my course was on hanging a shingle upon graduation. One day she came up to me and said, "In your life maybe you meet five people who will change the course of your life. You are one of them." I was looking at her with my mouth agape. She said, "I thought at this stage of my life it was more about looking backwards at what I had achieved. Now I know I can look forward to what I have yet to achieve. Thank you."

I was dumbstruck and felt the tears in my eyes.  She thought I gave her a gift.  She was the one who gave me a gift.

There are many law students who are of 'a certain age.'  It's a fantastic education to have to navigate through life. 

There really is no longer a 'right age' to go to law school..just the age that feels right for you.  And if you are graduating later in life, more power to you.


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Aretha Gaskin

Fantastic! Incredibly inspirational!

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