Hello. Thanks for contacting us.
Wow, it sounds like you are doing some real stock-taking at the new year approaches!
A few thoughts from a 53-year-old late in life lawyer (second career for me!)...
(1) The bad economy has made it really hard to find a job. There are many newly minted JDs working as barristas and restaurant host/hostesses. Of course, economic downturns are very cyclical, and in four of five years, the situation may be very different.
Given your status as a veteran and a civil servant, you may have a leg up in getting federal employment, at least. Getting some in-government experience can be helpful to gaining a foothold in legal academe. Many government lawyers teach as adjunct profs at law schools in their area. Policy
is a big piece of legal academe, and who gets that process better than someone inside the policy-making bureaucratic machine!
Those adjunct jobs can lead to contacts that could eventually land a real prof job (together with a track record of publications in respected law journals and/or books).
As in any field, despite laws against it, the culture often shuns over-50s without experience (and in this economy, even with relevant experience!) But it sounds as if you have the right attitude -- you would do it because it speaks to you. And that makes the struggle easier, for sure! There are far too many K-JD lawyers who never did anything else and happened to stumble into law because they couldn't think of anything else to do with their liberal arts undergrad degrees. Sad but true -- so if someone realizes that the road will be hard, but loves the subject matter, then it is a whole lot easier!
I wish you all the best on your new pursuit, and all sweetness in the new year!