SMH. 23rd of November 2017. Tristan Landers is one of an increasing number of older law students who are going back to finish their law degree while they juggle another career. Photographed at the University of Sydney. Story: Pallavi Singhal. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer
It was after she had two children and was moving up the ladder in the banking sector that Tristan Landers, 43, decided to start a law degree.
Over the next nine years, she went from a consulting role at KPMG to become a senior executive at Commonwealth Bank, while also completing a law degree by distance at Macquarie University.
“My degree was genuinely done in the middle of the night, it was very much in those minutes you could grab and steal from your sleep,” said Ms Landers, of Balmain.
Ms Landers stayed in banking for nearly a decade after finishing her law degree, but has now decided to change careers and is aiming to be admitted to practice next year.
“I waited until my children were out of high school to tackle something different,” Ms Landers said.
“When you go from a senior executive position to starting again, you’re really letting go of your income.”
Many people are now making the same choice and combining full-time jobs with part-time study, with a significant proportion looking to change industries once they graduate.
The College of Law, which provides practical legal training for students preparing to be admitted to practice, has seen an increase in students aged over 40, with 386 enrolled in courses last year, up from 320 in 2015.
More than half of the mature-aged students enrolled at the college this year were also working full-time in other jobs but more than 90 per cent said they intend to move to the legal sector, a survey of about 70 students found.
At the University of Sydney, 532 students aged over 30 were enrolled in postgraduate law courses this year, down slightly from 548 last year.
“People over 30 normally form a reasonable part of the juris doctor intake, because people take a little bit longer to figure out what they want to do these days,” dean of Sydney Law School Joellen Riley said.
The university introduced evening classes for part-time law students in 2013 in response to the increasing number of people who were working full-time as well as studying.
Professor Riley, who started studying law at 34 herself after a 10-year career in journalism, said older students are often better equipped to do a law degree.
“People don’t suddenly become unable to study when they hit 30,” she said.
“If anything, they often begin to do quite well in law because it’s a discipline that will mean more to you with more work experience and life experience.
“You do learn to write and meet deadlines, that’s something people who have been in the workforce understand.”
Employment outcomes for postgraduate law students are also much higher, with 85 per cent in full-time jobs four months after they graduated, compared with 70 per cent of students with an undergraduate law degree, figures from the Social Research Centre’s 2017 graduate outcomes survey show.
Ms Landers, who recently completed an internship at Justice Connect, said the biggest challenge initially was moving from a leadership position to being part of a team with young, recent graduates.
“It’s actually quite liberating, I’ve loved it,” Ms Landers said.
“It’s more challenging because it’s brand new and that’s the whole motivation behind it, to do something different for the next 20 years.
“A lot of people think you can’t change careers when you’re in your 40s and 50s but I’ve found out you absolutely can.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.