ONE HELL headnotes:
A funny thing happened
during my mid-life law school adventure
- by Alice Marie Beard

Just as a middle-aged woman coming out of 20 years of mothering is not the typical new law student, my law school experiences should not be seen as typical. The journal I kept is the uniquely personal account of one returning homemaker spending nine months as a first-year law student at Catholic University's Columbus School of Law, with one particular set of students, teachers, and administrators.

For forty years I'd kept journals and written letters to friends and family. When I started law school, I began an online journal to serve as a monthly letter to friends.

Soon after beginning the journal, I emailed a professor who runs a web site called JURIST. I wrote to tell him of a web page I had created to share a recent court decision -- my contribution to the "information super highway." Because of that, the professor found my journal and asked to use it. With great naiveté, I said, "Sure. Just spell my name correctly, and I'd like to retain the copyright." That was my only connection with the JURIST.

JURIST called my journal "TAKING TO THE LAW: A First Year Law School Journal." Then, a New York Times' reporter wrote about it [here], and a reporter from an American Bar Association magazine wrote about it [here]. The publicity caused its own difficulties; it was a time just before "blogging" became ordinary, and the journal drew more attention than it merited.

When I decided to go to Catholic's law school, I made the wrong choice. However, with probably more luck than I deserved, I ultimately landed at the perfect law school for me, and I completed my J.D. as just one more law student.

CLICK HERE for the first journal entry

How the adventure began

After twenty years as a genuine full-time mom, on the last possible day for applying, I hand delivered an application to CUA's law school. It wasn't a well thought out plan, but that's how it happened. And, having an extra seat to sell at their law school, CUA offered to sell me the seat for $24,500.

Questions folks asked

"How'd you explain twenty years of being just a mom?"
(1) Years of genealogical research and writing:
I printed out stacks of stuff I'd written and sent the stacks along with my applications to prove that I can research and write.
(2) Community service:
I didn't wash many windows during my years as "just a mom."

"Seriously, why'd you decide to go to law school at your age?"
(1) The kids are grown; I needed another excuse to explain why I don't do housework.
(2) God sent a message, but something must have gotten lost in transmission. ;-)

For the first journal entry,

Alice Marie Beard

1st journal entry >

an unconventional
journey into law

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Anyone is welcome to link to my words, and anyone is welcome to print a copy of ONE HELL for personal use. However, you are not welcome to reproduce at another web site, and/or to distribute en masse.
The copyright is mine.


In her mid-fifties, after a quarter-of-a-century as a housewife and mom,
Alice Beard graduated from a law school ranked # 38
and passed a bar exam that only 57% passed.