Kay Lorraine

At 70, long-time Hawaiʻi businesswoman Kay Lorraine will become the oldest student to graduate from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law.

“It has been fascinating, frustrating, interesting, intense and one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done,” says Lorraine, who also admits to throwing up—twice—on the way to her first law exam. “It’s maybe the most fun I’ve ever had in my entire life.”

Lorraine’s life-long dream of law school has been 50 years in the making, ever since she first imagined a legal career back in high school in Ohio. “Sometimes life intervenes,” she says. But even without a college degree—until six years ago—she has excelled, running a film production company as president and CEO, working as a professional ʻjingle’ singer with celebrities like Mel Torme and becoming the executive director and spokeswoman for a number of local nonprofits.

Lorraine becomes a law school favorite

In her three years at Richardson, Lorraine has held two part-time jobs, become a favorite among her classmates as a go to student always ready to help out and someone everyone knows in the law library because she’s the one behind the desk who also hands out the earplugs.

She worried at first that the other students would not accept the white-haired woman old enough to be their grandma. Her fears evaporated after the costume party that first-year students throw annually for their second and third-year classmates.

“In contracts class they awarded me a little trophy for the scariest costume,” she remembers. “That was so sweet of them, and that’s when I knew they had accepted me. But I had to tell the class the truth—that it wasn’t a costume; it was just me, an old woman with no makeup. I just put my head under the tap, washed off all my makeup, put my wet hair up in rollers, dangled a cigarette from my lips and put on an old white nightgown. I said ‘Think of me as the Ghost of Christmas Future.’”

Professor Troy Andrade, interim director of the Ulu Lehua program, called her “smart, dedicated and articulate and someone who is going to make a big difference in our community.”

Lorraine doesn’t yet know what kind of law she’ll practice, but she has interned in family law with Greg Ryan and Associates, and favors elder and health law. “I would love to be Perry Mason, but it takes a lot of time to build up a practice in criminal litigation, and right now I’m focused on passing the bar exam,” says Lorraine. But she is also happily accepting job offers.

For more on Kay Lorraine, read the full William S. Richardson School of Law story.