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After serving your country and coming back -- what do you do now? Many veterans actually find it hard to land a job in the private sector. But law schools are reaching out to the new market of veterans, crafting legal education programs specifically designed for the needs (and restrictions) of veterans.
Here are three things veterans should know about particularized law school programs and veterans in the legal community:
1. The GI Bill Covers Graduate School.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill will pay for graduate school, which includes law school. The current maximum tuition reimbursement rate, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, is up $20,235.02 per year at private schools and all tuition and fees for in-state students at a public university. Of course, $20,000 won't go very far at, say, Yale. But most private law schools also participate in the Yellow Ribbon program, which provides additional funding beyond what the GI Bill will provide.
2. Many Veterans Have Gone On to Lead Distinguished Legal Careers.
Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens served in the Navy during World War II. And William K. Suter (not to be confused with Justice David Souter), the former long-time Clerk of the Supreme Court, was a major general in the Army, serving as a Judge Advocate General of the Army from 1985 to 1991. Other notable veterans on the High Court have included Chief Justices William Rehnquist (U.S. Air Force, 1943-46) and Earl Warren (U.S. Army, 1917-18).
In other words, just because you've fallen outside the standard chronology of undergrad/grad school/law school doesn't mean you're too late. Anyone can go to law school at any time and have a successful career as a lawyer.
3. Law Schools Want Veterans.
Law schools are looking for veterans, and some even make it free for vets to apply. You can apply for application fee waivers at places like Georgetown, the University of Chicago, and UC Berkeley. As the associate dean of admissions at NYU Law told NYU Law magazine in 2013, "The women and men who have experience in the armed services bring leadership experience and commitment to public service, as well as perspectives and talents that make them an asset to our community."
Law school is full of doe-eyed 20-somethings who've largely come straight from undergrad. Veterans offer a valuable change of perspective. So if you're looking to go to law school, the law schools want you to be there, and there's aid available to do it.