My only concern at this point is the $57K average salary for recent grads. They seem to be able to get nearly every student placed. But, if I'm being totally honest, $57K is a big paycut, doubly so when I take into account the additional debt. But a quick look at numbers from other schools, such as GSU, seems to indicate that JM grads earn a little less, but not *that* much.
I hear you. I'm doing pretty well in I.T. consulting (security, identity fraud, regulatory compliance, etc), and ~$60K a year would be a pretty steep pay cut for me also. To be honest, I'm still not 100% sure what I want to do after graduation (it's 2010, so I have time to think about it). I may stay in the consulting business, but do more high-end work with Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, etc. I may take a 180-degree turn and start a solo general practice totally unrelated to technology... maybe sublease space from an older attorney and pick up his table scraps while I establish myself. I may do something in between, like try to work for Federal or State prosecutors in a "cybercrime" division.
I don't really know what I want to do yet. However, I'm a first-generation college grad from a working-class background, so even if I did take a pay cut it wouldn't exactly tear me up inside (by paying as I go right now, rather than take out student loans, I've effectively lowered my take-home pay into that range already). All I know is that I'm only 32 and have already accomplished pretty much all there is to do in my current field, and I can't accept having nothing else to really do between now and retirement. I'm too much a Type-A personality to coast along for the next 35 years.
Can you talk a little more about the workload? I'm going p/t evening and I'll be working full time as well. Have you found the workload too difficult to handle with a full-time job? Have you had the time to participate in many co-curricular activities (moot court, etc)? JM seems to be really friendly towards part-time students, which really appeals to me. What about the library? Have you found it to be sufficient? With the emergence of internet-based resources, I suspect that the size of a school's library is becoming less and less crucial.
The workload is brutal, I won't lie. The school is putting a lot of emphasis on its legal writing program, as a way to boost its reputation more quickly (legal writing for someone else is apparently what most recent grads do for their first few years). While a lot of schools make Legal Writing a one-semester, pass/fail class with little actual writing, here it's two semesters and graded... I've written about 50-100 pages of research memoranda, motions, and appellate briefs. In your second semester they bring in local attorneys and judges for you to do mock oral arguments in a court setting, which is pretty rare for first-year students. However, it's a ton of work... a 10 page memorandum might require you to read 30-50 cases to find what you need.
The first couple of months are shell-shock, but then you start to find your groove and get used to it. You figure out how to brief cases efficiently, you learn your way around Westlaw more effectively, you're able to get more done in less time. Still, you'll be busy, and it's VERY important that the loved ones in your life are supportive. I'm lucky to have a great wife who's encouraging. I have classmates with up to 4 kids, and it's even more crucial for them to have support on the home-front.
The kind of co-curricular activities you're talking about (moot court, etc) aren't open to first-year students at pretty much any school, so you have time to gather your own impressions on that. However, I've noticed that they do make room for evening students alongside the full-time people on those types of things. As far as extra-curricular stuff, evening students tend to be less gung-ho. I'm part of Phi Alpha Delta, the Federalist Society, and student government... but I pretty much show up once a month or so to a speaking event or happy-hour social mixer. There are only so many hours in a day.
I wish the library had longer hours, because I'm kind of a night owl. However, I haven't really done much that REQUIRED being in the library. For your very first Legal Writing assignment, they make you look things up the old-school way just so you'll know how... but from that point forward ALL your first-year stuff is on Westlaw or Lexis. The only reason I've had for going to the library this year is to have a central "rally point" in getting together with my study group, since our houses are scattered out across the metro area.