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Non-Traditional Students Applying to Law School

Podcast Highlight:

The non-traditional law school student is the subject of this week’s podcast. Our guests will discuss what makes a student “non-traditional,” and will talk about what these students bring to the law school classroom.

Jannell Lundy Roberts talks about the diversity that non-traditional students bring to the conversation of the law school student body. Professors at Loyola, she says, often comment on how much they appreciate the real-world perspectives non-traditional students can bring to classroom discussions; because they often hail from multiple years in the work force, highly diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, or unusual life circumstances, non-traditional students can speak about how their past experiences relate to what they are studying, rather than simply extrapolating on concepts they have read in textbooks. Lundy Roberts also suggests that non-traditional students should visit law school campuses and meet with other non-traditional students before applying or matriculating, in order to fully understand the opportunities that each specific school can offer them.

Casey Ross-Petherick at the Oklahoma City University School of Law says that, when it comes to the application process, non-traditional students can (and should) definitely stand out. She says that reading about non-traditional students’ diversity (in ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, upbringing, or socioeconomic background) in applications allows admissions representatives to see students in a completely different light than traditional “straight-out-of-college” law school applicants. She emphasizes, however, that the non-traditional stories aren’t simply centered around a person’s identity or ethnic background. Non-traditional diversity can be achieved through various means-from working after college for many years or having different positive or negative life experiences, to overcoming adversity or having unusual life goals.

Our last guest is Pegah Parsi. Parsi is a non-traditional student on a variety of levels. She has served in the military during and after college, goes to school part-time so she can also maintain full-time employment while studying, and is going to school to obtain a joint JD/MBA degree. She says that choosing to attend law school years after college has allowed her to truly view the “bigger picture” of her schooling. She is able to enjoy her time in law school because she is not overwhelmed with the law school process, and can see it as a step-by-step path to a greater goal. Parsi also suggests that non-traditional students may have an edge during employment interviews because employers often value her dedication to education and her goal to become an attorney.


Pegah Parsi – JD/MBA Student at the University of Maryland School of Law
Casey Ross-Petherick – Assistant Director of the Native American Legal Resource Center at the Oklahoma City University School of Law
Jannell Lundy Roberts – Assistant Dean of Admissions at Loyola Marymount University School of Law

  1. I agree with this post and think there was a great need for it. Many people forget the diversity that non-traditional students bring to the field – these students are often overlooked when it comes to the diversity of a student body. I especially enjoyed this post because it provides hope, through example, of students who have chosen to pursue their career in a way that best fit their life and personal situations whether it be raising a family or pursuing simultaneous degrees. These are the students that J.D. Lifeline encourages to pursue legal degrees.

  2. J.D. Lifeline,

    I am glad you enjoyed it.


  3. My mother (age 61) has decided to go to Law School. She has an amazing life story, incredible work ethic and much experience. She has taken the LSAT 2 times in the last few months. Disappointed with her first score of 156 she studied even harder including taking many prep courses but instead of improving her score it surprisingly dropped a few points to 148. Still hopeful, she is now in the application process and has a great resume, letters of recommendations, and essays and such. Being the high achiever that she is, she of course is applying and hoping for acceptance in the top 30 schools.

    Your podcast was very encouraging and will pass it along to her. I was wondering if you would have any additional personal advise that I can pass along to her as she continues forward these next few weeks.

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