How I Got Into Law School at
(Continued from 1)
Which careers could I shoot for where I could make
good money, and start my
own business immediately after graduating?
Clickety click on the keyboard...sip of wine...
Doctor? Forget it. Terrible at science. Hate blood.
Hmmmm, I always enjoyed researching the law for my own
legal problems. In fact, I handled my own bankruptcy.
I negotiated several successful real estate deals on
my own. I could have an office at home. Nah, Ill
never get accepted. Ill never pass the Law School
Admission Test (LSAT). Im too old. Im not
smart enough. I cant afford it. Ill have
to go to college for four years to get a bachelor degree
and then three more years of law school. Clickety click.
Technical writer? Id only need a B.A. in English!
Which classes do I need to
take? English literature? Yuck! Shakespeare? Gag. Poetry?
writers nightmare. Clickety click.
Counselor? Need too many degrees. Cant stand
Sigh. Slurp. Sniffle. Walk the dog. Regroup.
What are the requirements for California law schools, anyway? Clickety click.
And then there it was on the computer screen. A miracle.
And a ray of hope.
As it turns out, another thing that is affordable in
California, is law school. In California, a student
can go to a state approved law school, as opposed to
Bar Association (ABA) approved school. Graduates
can practice in California and some other states, but
not in all states as ABA law school graduates. As I
intended to stay in California, that was fine with me.
These law schools offer a four-year program, as opposed
to the three-year
traditional route, but I would only need a two-year
associate degree (A.A..) to get
in. I would save a years time.
Tuition ranges from $2,000 per year for correspondence
law schools with no
financial aid available, to over $12,000 per year at
an actual campus which
offers both day and evening courses, and financial aid.
The more expensive of
these law schools have a rigorous admission process,
requiring letters of
recommendation and decent LSAT scores. The cheapest
schools do not. I wouldnt have to take the LSAT!
And I could see being able to
afford $2,000 per year tuition in two years.
Law school was actually looking possible. I took a
deep breath and enrolled at
the local community college. And then I experienced
Really broke people qualify for the maximum financial
aid. The tax money Ive
paid over my lifetime came back to me in the form of
grants. Turned out the
tuition for my A.A. degree was going to be free!
On May 30, 2003, I strutted to the music of Pomp
and Circumstance under
palm trees in Woodland, California, with a smile as
big as Texas, to receive my
Associate in Arts degree in General Studies with honors.
I had a new credit card
in my purse, and later poured champagne for my daughter
and friends in an
apartment leased in my name.
Attaining that degree wasnt a cake walk. It took
nearly three and a half years,
and I had started out expecting it to take less than
two. There were plenty of
days when I was sure I couldnt do it, when I thought
about giving up, when I
struggled with financial aid, couldnt afford books,
argued with counselors and
employers, and discovered Id taken classes I didnt
need to take.
And then one day, there I was. I had done it. I really
had done it! I still stare at
that degree in complete and utter amazement. I may be
in shock for years.
On June 15, 2003, I began studying law. Im simultaneously
ecstatic. Im hoping to open a small practice out
of my home after I sit for the bar in 2007, specializing
in elder law or
immigration law, both of which truly interest
me and should be in high demand in 2007.
When I start worrying about being too old to be in
law school, I remember what a
good friend told me. Just think. Youre going
to look so old, theyll assume
youve been a lawyer for years.
Karen Kelly attended the Northwestern California University School of Law. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Law, and passed the California State Bar Exam for First Year Law Students on her first attempt.