Well, if anyone had told me that I would go back to school at age 51, I would have told them they were crazy. I was not looking to return to school at that point in my life. However, I was encouraged by my firm to take classes in an LLM program to prepare myself to practice and specialize in a slightly different area of law. The opportunity sounded interesting, so I went ahead and applied to The John Marshall Law School to participate in the employee benefits LLM program.
I was afraid that I would not be able to keep up with the younger students because I thought it was harder to learn as you get older. However, I learned that my years of work experience actually helped me to understand the concepts more readily than did some of the youngsters who had never worked. I also enjoyed getting to know the other students and the professors, whom I otherwise would never have met.
I did find, however, that I was at a disadvantage when it came to technology. When I attended law school, no one had a laptop computer. Now, everyone has one and everything is done on line. Want to sign up for a class? Do it online. No more standing in line and turning in registration forms. Want to check your grades? Do it online. Nothing is mailed out. Want to know what special speakers or other events are being offered by the school? Check it online. There is no school newspaper or newsletter announcing events. Everything is all online. Classes can even be taken on line instead of in person. All of these changes turned out to be more challenging for someone like me, who is less technically sophisticated than the younger students, than learning the actual subject matter. I even had to break down and buy a laptop. Then there was the fun of explaining to my family and friends what the degree was that I was working toward. What does LLM stand for? Legum Magister or Master of Laws.
I worked full time while I worked toward the LLM, so it took me three years to complete the program. Students who attend full time are able to complete the program in one year. I had to keep my nose to the grindstone (eyes on the prize?) and used my commuting time, most weekends, and a lot of vacation time to complete mid-terms, finals, research and written papers. Honestly, one of the hardest parts was keeping focused on completing the school work when I was exhausted by everything and just wanted to sleep. But once I start something, I am compelled to finish.
So here I am, three years later, an LLM graduate (with honors!) with a new expertise beneficial to my employer and our clients. I am glad I attended and completed the program. I obtained a lot of useful information that I actually enjoyed learning.
If you are thinking about returning to school to upgrade your skills in some way, I strongly encourage you to do so. It is a struggle while you are doing it, but the time will really fly by, and before you know it you have reached your goal.