A Lifelong Learner Embarks on His Legal Education Journey

Derrick Sawyer made the decision to pursue a legal education later in life than most students do. For him, though, the desire to be a lifelong learner just comes naturally.

“I joined the fire service with a high school diploma, and by the time I retired as commissioner, I had earned my master’s degree,” Sawyer says. “I also graduated from the National Fire Academy, attended the John F. Kennedy School for Government at Harvard, served on a few committees for the National Fire Protection Association, and became certified as a fire officer, fire instructor, and fire inspector.”

His next stop: the world of law. Because for Sawyer, it’s all about doing what’s right. “I believe you’re more successful when you do things not because you owe someone a favor, but because they’re the right things to do,” he says. “I also believe in helping people whenever I can. A candle loses nothing when it lights another candle.”

Sawyer’s journey to law school shows that it’s never too late to consider a law degree. His experiences leading up to this moment have given him a unique perspective that’s valuable to the legal community. And there are numerous ways for people like Sawyer to find a path in legal education that fits their needs; visit LSAC’s Types of Law Degrees page to learn about them.

Sawyer says he’s excited to earn a law degree because of the personal and professional development opportunities it offers, but also because it will help him understand how the law affects the area to which he’s devoted most of his life. “I plan to learn more about HR policies as they pertain to fire services,” he says. “I plan to use my legal education to help me do a better job at getting codes and standards passed. And I plan to study how policy is made and how it ultimately impacts the codes and standards that govern the fire prevention industry.”

He believes a legal education will also help him be a better advocate for women, who are underserved in the world of fire prevention, and young men from impoverished backgrounds, whom Sawyer mentors. “I know you don’t always start out in the position you want to be in,” he says. “I also know that none of us can do anything alone.”

Ultimately, he notes, all of us could benefit from learning more about the legal system. “Law affects everybody,” he says. “Laws we’re not even aware of affect us. They affect how we behave every single day.”

Indeed, no longer is law school simply a way to become a lawyer. More and more people see a legal education as a way to excel or assume more responsibility in their chosen industries. From JD and LLM to master’s and certificate programs, there’s something to match every candidate’s priorities and schedule.

If you’re a lifelong learner like Sawyer and you’re interested in a legal career, visit LSAC.org to learn about what kind of legal education could be the best fit for you.