By Jennis Hemingway • September 30, 2010•Writers in Residence
Older “Wiser” Law Students (OWLS) generally have more experience which they can draw upon to provide context to their studies, along with greater financial resources, than younger students. Yet, overall, it is probably not advantageous to be an older law student. Unlike the traditional student, many OWLS have children, spouses, aging parents, real estate responsibilities, and other obligations that “get in the way” of law school. However, last weekend the OWLS at my law school, had the advantage. But first a little background.
When I started law school, it didn’t take me long to realize I wasn’t like most students. People mistook me for a professor, staff member, and a student’s parent. Thus, when I saw other older students, I tried to connect with them. Soon we were six women who met for lunch and shared our stories. Our core group reached out to other OWLS and by the start of my second year, we called ourselves Amicus Society and obtained official recognition as a student organization.
I agreed to be president the following year and we decided to focus on social events, networking, and support. We arranged monthly family-friendly events along with on-campus lunches. Incoming 1Ls expressed interest in a social organization that didn’t require specific commitments. Some graduating J.D.s wanted to remain on our growing e-mail list (now at 69 members).
For fall semester, one of the original six members agreed to host a family-friendly party at her residence, which brings me to last weekend and why we OWLS had the advantage over younger law students. Our hosts; Linda and her (master-chef, semi-retired lawyer) husband, who among other things, makes his own sausage; agreed to open their house, along with pool, tennis court, sand box, giant patio, guest house, Wii games, and grand piano to the Amicus Society.
About 40 people from eight weeks to 70+ years-old gathered for a mouth watering meal (including vegetarian and kid options), along with a dessert table that reminded me of a Sunday brunch. I observed parents and kids (including my daughter) actively engaged on the tennis court, in the pool, around the kitchen island, and playing games or the piano. As the warm and beautiful evening came to an end, one young girl asked her 1L father,
“Daddy, when you are a lawyer will we have a pool?”
“Will we have a house like this?”
Even older students can dream about their futures. It takes time and hard work to amass the wealth and abilities our hosts shared. I can’t imagine a friend from my twenties hosting such an event.