I will be attending the Houston law center part-time this year as well. I work full-time and Iíve been trying to figure out the answers to some of the same questions. From what Iíve gathered from current part-time students there, the majority of students switch over to full-time some time before they graduate. The main reason for this being that a 3L summer internship is pretty much a pre-requisite to find a good job when you graduate. So, unless your employer is nice enough to let you take an entire summer off for the internship, the only option is to quit your current job. Also, for students like me, who work in a field thatís worlds apart from the legal one, I guess it makes sense to snuff out the old career as soon as you begin to feel at home with law school and begin to focus on what lies ahead. There seems to be a smaller percentage of students who do graduate part-time, but they seem to be ones who already are working at law firms, and have guaranteed jobs there upon graduation. So, the other option is to switch your full-time job over to a potential future employer, and continue law school part-time, in which case you would indeed graduate with much more work experience than students who went to school full-time. Either way, I donít see why employment opportunities would be any less than those for people starting out full-time, all other things being equal.
As for having a life, I have resigned to the fact that I wonít really have much of it left once I start going to school part-time. Its seems to be an accepted fact, that in order to do well, you need to put in 2-3 hours out of class for every hour in class. From the mandated first year schedule at UH, it seems that IL part-timers would be taking anywhere between 6-10 hours of course work. Thatís anywhere between 12 and 30 hours outside the class, depending of course, on your abilities. That should pretty much take care of most of your social life and some of your sleep time as well. Now, if you could cut down on your work hours, I imagine part-time law school could be a bit less miserable.