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RobertJDFL, Attorney
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I have had over 3 years of oppression from my ex-spouse on

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I have had over 3 years of oppression from my ex-spouse on child custody and a divorce that has not been followed through by her. I am very much wanting to empower myself by going to law school so I can better defend myself. I am in the Southern California area and looking for advice on where to begin.

I currently have a engineering degree with middle of the road grades. I have been out of college for about 14 years and at middle to upper management in the A/E industry. I am 40 years old.

Any advice?
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I commend you on making the decision to go to law school. You have a long road of you if you decide to pursue this. The first thing you'll want to look into is studying for and taking the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT. I don't know of any law school that does not require an applicant to take the exam, which is administered 4 times a year, and measures your analytical, logic and reading comprehension skills.

Since you've been out of school for awhile and in a profession, your college grades are going to matter less than your LSAT score and how you present yourself in an application (I think you could draft a fine essay about yourself). Keep in mind with a weak economy, applications to law schools are way up, so competition is stiff. Scoring high on the LSAT will be very important for you. There are study guides you can get for the exam, or courses you can take through companies like Kaplan, normally taught by students who scored in the top percentage.

The majority of law schools are full-time; it's rare that you'll find one that is part time. That means living off loans and/or savings for the next 3+ years. Hopefully you enjoy reading, as you will be doing a lot of it -3,000+ pages in a semester isn't unheard of. It isn't like reading a casual novel either; the cases can take a long time to study and analyze and learn how they build upon one another, especially in the early goings as a student. You'll also learn how to brief cases (the "IRAC" method) and of course, will begin to learn the art of legal writing through your law school career.

To be honest, much of what you learn in law school is legal theory; when you really start to learn is in internships, and especially when you get that first job after you pass the bar exam. So, please don't think you'll come out of law school ready to tackle the big cases --that comes with years of on the job learning, and plenty of mistakes along the way.

California has one of the toughest bar exams in the country as well (if not the toughest), but the pass rate for first time test takers hovers around 75%, and slightly higher for those students attending ABA accredited schools. Studying begins in your third year and it is a good idea to take a bar prep course in your last semester or after graduation to help your prepare for the exam. The top 3 schools in California (if you decide to go to school in California) with the highest passage rates were USC, Standford, and UC-Berkly, which had passage rates for their graduates ranging from 91% to close to 87%, which is fantastic.

As for your age, that is less of a concern. I went to school with people in their 60s who were starting a new career, and many others in your age range who were moving onto second careers or just wanted the benefit of the degree. So long as you feel you can put in the time to read and study and are dedicated to it, you'll be fine.

Please let me know if you need any clarification or additional information.
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