Age is not a barrier to qualifying as a solicitor. The introduction of the Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees or job seekers on the grounds of age (actual or perceived).
Law firms/organisations also increasingly recognise that the insight, skills and experience that mature students and career changers bring to a firm helps to shape a dynamic and diverse workforce.
There is no one definition of 'mature' that's used consistently in legal workplaces, but the Law Society 2015 Annual Statistical Report shows that 4.2 per cent of solicitors admitted to the roll of solicitors between 2014 and 2015 were over the age of 40. The report indicates that mature students are not excluded from the legal recruitment market.
If you decide to pursue a law career, you should be realistic about what the next few years ahead will require. There are many qualified applicants pursuing a career as a solicitor, and the environment is extremely competitive. You will need to commit to hard work and make the time to study. You should also ask yourself some questions like: what do I want to achieve, why do I want to achieve this, is it realistic and how am I going to achieve it?
As a mature student, you should research the different routes to qualification and practice options before you decide which one is right for you.
It's important when conducting your research that you choose your selected firms/organisations wisely; try to take advantage of your previous experience. For example; a banking, finance or business background would be of interest to commercial firms; working as a nurse or within the medical profession could benefit you if considering working at firms that undertake medical law.
Many firms run open days, these will give you an insight into the culture of the firm and will help you decide to which firms your range of experience, qualities, knowledge and skills are best suited.
Local government and the public sector can be good options for mature students - both the Crown Prosecution Service and the Government Legal Service offer training contracts and have a positive approach to mature applicants.
The journey is long and there may be many barriers but it is possible, and your hard work can be rewarded with a satisfying and worthwhile career in law.
Read our guide to starting out as a solicitor for mature students and career changers (PDF 1.9Mb).