79-Year-Old Woman Earns Her Law Degree to Practice Elder Abuse Law

One woman had the determination to enroll in law school at an uncommonly old age.  She persevered as her longtime companion battled and eventually succumbed to Alzheimer's disease, and as she was put on academic probation before finally graduating from McGeorge School of Law.

Now, at age 79, she is the oldest graduate in McGeorge history and one of the oldest lawyers-to-be in the nation. A traditional legal education takes three years; an older law student is usually someone in his or her 30s. The woman however, after a long secretarial career enrolled in 2002 to pursue her long-held dream.

The woman prompted more double-takes upon taking a seat in class as she was significantly older not only than her fellow students but all but one professor. She said she doesn't expect to change the world as a lawyer, but she hopes her time in the field will at least allow her to "nibble at" some injustices. She has gotten a job at a law firm and will be taking the bar in the near future. Upon passing she intends to practice elder abuse and neglect law. 

"A lot of people my age think I'm out of my mind," Thomas said at the time. "But a lot of older people just sit and watch the grass grow, and they end up disintegrating. When you quit learning something, you might as well crawl into a coffin and pull the dirt in after you." For more, read the story.


Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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