Going to law school may be a commonplace—albeit impressive—achievement for those in their twenties or thirties, but going to law school when you’re sixty-nine years old and most of your peers are retiring is downright ambitious … and inspiring. But Peggy Hood never let her age phase her when she decided to attend law school while simultaneously running her court reporting business. Though her LSAT score was as impressive as her drive, she chose to attend an esteemed state school close to home so that she could continue to manage her business.
Peggy, who’s now seventy-three, made time to talk with me at the (almost) end of a busy finals week about what inspired her to start down the arduous path of law school and the benefits of having a roughly forty-five year edge on most of her fellow law students.
RB: What inspired you to go to law school at sixty-nine?
PH: I’ve always loved the law—it’s the only thing I’ve ever known, really. It’s always in my head and I always talk about it. Age had nothing to do with my decision. My family always encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to at any age and I’m doing it.
RB: Did you ever entertain the idea of law school earlier in life?
PH: Yes, I always wanted go to law school. I worked part time for an attorney and became fascinated with the law when I was in college. When I went to work for him, I knew absolutely nothing about the law, but he was fantastic to work for and he would just sit me down and explain everything to me. I got hooked.
I became a teacher after graduating college and later started a court reporting business and was a court reporter for many years. At seventy-three, I’m widowed, partially retired, and now I have time to follow my dream of becoming an attorney. I always knew I would eventually go to law school; I just didn’t know when.
RB: Did you study for a long time for your LSAT?
PH: Honestly, I didn’t have to study as hard as probably some people coming right out of college because I’ve been in the law business for thirty-five years, in multiple states, so I’ve seen every kind of case possible. Also, a lot of stuff on the LSAT isn’t law, it’s common sense. [School] hasn’t been too hard for me … yet, anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I study every day, in everything I do. But law school is not as hard as people think it is. I think it’s easier for me because I’ve lived a long time!
RB: What was your biggest fear about going to law school … and has it come true?
PH: I had no fear at all and looked forward to it! I have always believed that you should learn something every day.
RB: What have you enjoyed the most about being in school?
PH: Being around a lot of young people and being able to encourage them, telling they can do anything they want.
RB: Which area of the law interests you most and will you practice it when you get out of school next year?
PH: I love criminal law, but I don’t see myself practicing that when I’m done …maybe if I were twenty-five or thirty! I’d really like to do some pro bono work for the elderly. In what I do now, I see so many elderly people lose their homes because they didn’t understand what they were doing or couldn’t really follow what they were reading because they had no help. The legal profession has been very good to me and I’d like to give something back and help people who really need it.
RB: What have you learned about yourself through this experience?
PH: That my self-determination is still alive and kicking, I can still make good grades, and I still enjoy being in school.
RB: What advice would you give women—specifically younger women—who are hesitating for whatever reason about pursuing a goal or dream?
PH: Even if you can’t do everything at one time, do a little bit at a time, so that you’re always getting closer to where you want to go and don’t lose sight of your goal. No matter what, follow your dream! There are times throughout your life better suited to doing that than others, but never let go of that dream.
Read about another Age-Defying Woman.