UO student graduates law school at 51 after losing vision

UO student graduates law school at 51 after losing vision

EUGENE, Ore. - On any given school day, University of Oregon law student Bill Spiry can be found in his office typing away at his latest assignment.

"My days were probably on average 13 or 14 hours long," Spiry said.

But Spiry isn't your average law student.

"Some people would call going to law school when you are 49 years old rash," Spiry said.

After 22 years of working in human resources, the Springfield man decided to go back to law school.

"I was surrounded by 185 people that are 20-something," Spiry said.

He said going back after so many years was not easy.

"There's just no way to prepare yourself for what law school is," Spiry said. "Especially after you've been in the real world for 20 years and not in an academic setting. It was quite a transition."

But another thing you should know about Spiry is that he lost his vision more than a decade ago.

"I lost my vision as a result of a genetic condition called Retina Dispigmentosa," Spiry said.

Spiry was first diagnosed with RP when he was 14 years old.

By 1998, he said he had completely lost his eye sight.

"I think what my vision's done for me, is it's made me very driven," Spiry said.

Spiry still studied non-stop through a program called JAWS for Windows.

"I've got law dictionaries and Lexus Nexus I use," Spiry said.

Spiry's three years of hard work finally paid off as he walked across the stage at his graduation on Saturday.

"It was darn scary," Spiry said. "I mean I have three children, a wife, and a very expensive mortgage."

Spiry said the task that felt far-fetched at first, finally became a dream come true.

"As hard as it was, it was the most gratifying three years I've had in my life as well," Spiry said.

While Spiry has officially graduated, he still has to pass the bar exam to begin practicing law.

Once he passes his bar, he plans to pursue his new career as a trial lawyer.