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LIV President's Blog 2012

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Legal study as a mature age student

Legal study as a mature age student

Studying as a mature age student is not as simple as many people think. There are many complications that a mature age student must assess, and analyse, before success can be achieved.

For instance, juggling commitments and responsibilities with study, is one of the most difficult challenges that any person can be asked to take on (considering that life has many changes, and indeed sometimes these changes are rapid, and unforseen). Therefore, as a mature age student you must possess the skill, ability, and flexibility, to accommodate changes in circumstances.

Added to this are the extra challenges that mature age students who also happen to be parents have to face. Mums and dads that enter a commitment to study have the constant challenge of dealing with family commitments whilst managing a study program.  For instance, they need to:

  • Look after the family;
  • Prepare meals, lunches;
  • Take children to school;
  • If children become ill look after them (which usually, for some unknown reason, happens around exam or assessment time);
  • Maintain a household (dishes, vacuuming, ironing, washing, gardening, grocery shopping, clothes shopping, paying bills, taking children to activities) the list is endless;
  • Run to doctor’s appointments, dentist’s check-ups etc; and
  • Give their children constant attention (children usually will not understand that you have a heavy workload of study, or exams, they demand your attention, and you cannot ignore them as a parent).

Adjusting to the change
I have tried listening to a lecture in my study with my seven year old twin boys; let me tell you it did not work. So now listening to lectures occurs when children are fast asleep. Adjusting to this change has made me a night owl; I have now become a student that works at night, when everyone in the household is fast asleep.
If all of the changes and adjustments that need to take effect in order to achieve an effective study program are not enough to worry an individual, I am sure that the difficulty of finding suitable work after all this study is complete, may really start to send your heart palpitating. However, I think that it is important not to throw your passion away!
The big picture

Considering all the obstacles that may impede a mature student from successfully practicing in the legal profession, there are things that must never be forgotten:

  • Follow your dreams
  • If you have a passion don’t allow anyone or anything to stop you
  • Your success can only depend on you, and how you go about obtaining that success
  • Juggling of commitments and effective time management (qualities which any mature age student must possess)only  better prepare and equip  an individual for legal practice and all the responsibilities that come with it
  • Mature age students have life experience on their side!

Essentially the industry is very competitive but, I pose a very respectable and direct question . . .

If practicing in the legal profession is that difficult for mature age lawyers, why is it that many prefer to employ a person with life experience and the ability to manage time well?

Written by John Vico, a full-time 3rd year law student at Charles Darwin University.  He lives in Melbourne with his wife and two young sons. Since commencing his degree John has become only more determined to follow his dreams of becoming a criminal lawyer!

On 23 April 2013, the Later Lawyers Committee of the Young Lawyers’ Section will hold the 1st of 3 networking lunches for 2013. The Later Lawyers networking lunches offer the perfect opportunity for later lawyers to get together and share their experiences with others, as well as hearing from a guest speaker who has also entered the law later in life. Fotini Panagiotidis, Barrister, will be our guest speaker for our first networking lunch of 2013! Register now.

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Deborah Akers
As a later lawyer, with several degrees including a Masters under my belt, I was surprised how difficult it was to secure a legal job. The article in the Young Lawyers' journal was music to my ears. I was repeatedly asked at interviews how I was going to accept being managed by a younger person, how I was going to adjust to s drop in pay, why I hadn't engaged more in volunteering while a student, and how I thought any of my other skills could possibly be of use. I am a registered nurse, registered midwife, hold a masters in Counselling, have run a small business for many years, hold educational qualifications and still currently teach at a university. I have also raised two now grown children with a husband who has travelled extensively - so all the study has been done whil I was effectively a single parent. I had also, prior to completing my law degree, been an expert witness in a complicated medical negligence case. I came to the conclusion that I was simply in the 'too hard' basket for employers. I even attemtped to make light of some issues at interview and reminded a couple of prospective empolyers that I woudl never need maternity leave! After over a year post-admission, I finally found someone who would give me a go, but only after a friend gave me a leg up and I really pushed hard. It is demoralising and frustrating and despite the lip service that many pay to us 'later (even later) lawyers, there is resistence by many to seeing anyting other than our law (lack of) experience in denying us work.
7/04/2013 2:10:12 PM

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