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Voice of Experience

Voice of Experience: April 2023 | Transition

Going Back to School

Michael L Goldblatt

Going Back to School
Drazen Zigic via Getty Images

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About 40 years ago, Rodney Dangerfield wrote and starred in Back to School. The PG-13 rated movie tells the story of a successful entrepreneur who regrets not going to college. The plot involves Dangerfield enrolling in college to help his son's freshmen transition. Despite the film’s age, it’s still fun to watch Dangerfield's timeless antics and self-deprecating humor.

Lawyers can advance their careers by going back to school anytime during their career. Options include continuing education seminars, non-degree courses, and post-graduate degree programs. Post-JD education can keep you current with changes in the law and sharpen your skills. Below are tips for continuing you education and resources for implementing them.    


Benefits - use educational programs to add specialties, change careers, improve skills, and expand social networks.

Costs - consider free and low-cost programs offered by online providers and community colleges.

Disciplines - options include practice management, law office technology, and legal specialties like environmental, estate planning, international, maritime, and tax law.

Providers - search programs offered by bar associations, CLE organizations, online providers, and universities.

Style - select the learning style that suits your needs (e.g. in-person, online, and podcasts).

Teaching - give back to the profession by teaching at an undergraduate college or law school.

Timing - attend CLE programs early in careers, use part-time programs at career mid-points, pursue full-time programs for sabbaticals, and take adult education courses during retirement.


Going back to school helps lawyers advance careers and reach personal fulfillment after retirement. Continuing education can be used to improve practice skills, learn legal developments, and continue learning in retirement. Follow the tips mentioned above and read the resources listed below to facilitate a smooth transition back to school.


Leslie Brody, Seeking Intellectual Buzz, More Senior Citizens Audit College Classes, Wall Street Journal, Mar. 9, 2017.

Mona Bushnell, What You Need to Know About Going Back to School for a Career Change, Business Daily, Feb. 21, 2023

Harriet Edleson, Older Students Learn for the Sake of Learning, New York Times, Jan. 1, 2016.

Judi Hasson, Retirees Return to College Just for the Fun of It, Kiplinger's, Jun. 2013.

Dennis Nishi, How to Change Careers if You're a Lawyer, Wall Street Journal, Aug 10, 2013.

Anne Tergesen, These Colleges Help Older Workers Plot Encore Careers, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 17, 2023

Staff, Tips for Choosing the Right Master's Degree Program, Indeed, Dec. 12, 2019.


Richard Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute: Your Guide to a Lifetime of Meaningful Work and Career Success, Ten Speed Press, Dec. 27, 2022.

Jessica McCrory, A Field Guide to Grad School: Uncovering the Hidden Curriculum, Princeton Review, Aug. 25, 2020.

James McKeachie, Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research and Theory for College and University Teachers, Houghton Mifflin Company, Jan. 1, 2001.

Sharan Merriam and Lisa Baumgartner, Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide, 4th ed., Jossey-Bass, Feb. 5, 2020.

Jennifer Rose, Second Acts for Solo and Small Firm Lawyers, ABA Bok Publishing, May 8, 2019.


ABA - Approved Law Schools

ABA - CLE Programs

ABA - Post-JD & Non-JD Programs

LSAC - LLM, Master’s, and Certificate Programs

Osher - List of Institutes

Quimby - Comparing Online and In-Person CLE Providers

US News - Best Graduate Schools