Ageism and the Legal Workplace

A recent article in the Globe & Mail discussed the phenomenon of older students in university, driven in part by the recession,

Universities across Canada report a growing number of mature undergraduates – typically adults older than 25 who have taken more than a year off school – who are choosing to study full-time in order to find new careers or increase their competitive edge in a job market that is still reeling from the economic downturn…

A 2009 study by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada found that full-time enrolment for students of all ages had increased by more than four per cent that year, and speculated that the economy was the driving factor.

Although there’s no indication yet that this has affected law school enrolment in Canada as well, it’s probably fair to presume that some undergraduate students will opt to stay in school longer and others already in the workforce might seek to upgrade their credentials.

In my first column in The Lawyers Weekly I introduce some anecdotal stories of older law students having difficulty finding articling positions, which they attribute to ageism. Is this a valid concern for law students, and if so, what are some of the solutions?

Could the opposite happen as well, with senior partners being pushed out by younger associates for not being productive enough?

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