Graduating from Law School as a Teenager?

Haley Taylor Schlitz is a rarity. She started college at 13, entered law school at 16 and will be only 19 when she gets her J.D., placing her among the small group of very young law students who actually graduate as teenagers.

She is not alone.

Famed journalist Ronan Farrow entered Yale Law School at age 16. Seth Harding graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law last year at 19. Braxton Moral, also 19, will get his J.D. from Washburn University School of Law later this month. And Charmaine Chui, 16, is in her first semester at Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law on a full scholarship.

These students often encounter skepticism from some classmates about their age. But they have chosen an unusual path that can also open many doors in the legal profession.

“I’ve had a few attorneys who have said, ‘Well, I don’t understand what the rush is, and there’s no way that you are going to fit in,’” Schlitz said. “But I’ve also had a lot of opportunities offered to me because people are impressed with my accomplishments and resume.”

The American Bar Association does not maintain any minimum age for law students, though some states have age thresholds for practicing law or taking the bar exam. California, Florida and Texas have adopted 18 as their minimum age, while New York requires all bar examinees to be at least 21 years old.

And being a teenage law student certainly poses some challenges. Lots of law school social and networking events take place at bars or may involve alcohol, making it difficult for underage students to join in.

The young students are also learning to be lawyers while still learning to be adults. That was the toughest part for Aaron Parnas, who enrolled at George Washington University Law School in 2017 when he was 18 and moved away from home for the first time.

“I was trying to figure out how to pay rent and where to go to do laundry at the same time I was trying to figure out contracts and constitutional law—it wasn’t always easy,” said Parnas, who graduated in 2020 and now works at a boutique criminal defense firm in Miami.

You can read about these inspirational students here.

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