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Law School for OWLS (Older, Wiser Law Students)

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on August 29, 2016 11:57 AM

The average entering 1L is a scant 24 years old.

But not all of us are spring chickens when we begin studying the law. In almost every entering law school class, there are small contingents of students who come to law school with significant life experience. They're known as OWLS, or older, wiser law students.

The Benefits of Being OWLS

While older law students may feel somewhat out of place when initially finding themselves a smidge older than their law school peers, there are plenty of advantages to being an older law student. The first and most important, of course, is experience -- life experience, business, experience, relationship experience.

OWLS' experience can help them throughout their law school experience. Someone who has worked for a decade before law school, for example, might find it a lot easier to understand and contextual the UCC's "battle of the forms" than their straight-from-undergrad peer. Someone who has spent significant time as an adult in their community will also have a larger network to rely on when looking for jobs, internships, or (eventually) potential clients. And OWLS' worldly ways will (hopefully) keep them from getting absolutely trashed at every law school mixer.

All things considered, age tends to be a significant benefit.

Birds of a Feather...

But, of course, not every aspect of being an older student will make law school easier. Many OWLS, for example, have to balance their law school studies with their family and spouses. They may not want to go dancing 'til the early morning as part of their school's get-to-know-your-classmates "bar review." They may be a bit too proud to enjoy the Socratic method.

Luckily, OWLS aren't alone. Many law schools have organizations dedicated to OWLS. These organizations provide older students the opportunity to network, to share law school strategies, and to just spend some time together with peers a bit more their age. NYU Law's organization for OWLS, for example, boasts of "meet and greet dinners and potlucks at law student homes in such exotic places as Brooklyn and Harlem," while Harvard hosts OWLS trivia nights.

OWLS events and organizations can be found at lots of law schools -- but not all. But if you're school doesn't have one, don't despair. Found it yourself. It could be a great addition to your already-pretty-developed resume.

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