By Jeffrey StrausserQ: I am a 33-year-old night law student at a good school and a full-time manager with a strong history of advancement at the Environmental Protection Agency. What kinds of options are there for a student like me at traditional firms? Are firms open to bringing in a slightly older new lawyer as an associate and is that a wise career choice? Does the fact that I am a night student make a difference in my marketability?
A: I suppose I might ask a different set of questions. First, since you have a strong history of advancement in the EPA, why not try to move into the legal group at the EPA, or leverage your JD to advance further in the EPA? Secondly, do you really want to be an attorney, or do you just want to leave the EPA? If you just want to leave the EPA, that part of the business sector that interfaces with the EPA could be a great place for you. Finally, if you are convinced that a legal career is for you, then figure out how you can add value to a firm. I dont think your age is a barrier to joining a firm, however, you must be able to show your prospective legal employer that you bring something to the table. More specifically, can you help them with environmental law issues and can you bring them environmental issue business? If you can show them you can do both, your transition should go well. However, if you feel you cannot, you might want to reconsider the business/government sector.