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Author Topic: Part-time 1L/2L summers  (Read 2774 times)

asdfjkl;

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Part-time 1L/2L summers
« on: November 22, 2011, 08:28:39 PM »
Not sure if this should have been posted in another board, but here goes. I am a practicing attorney that recently graduated from a full-time program. Despite my pleas, one of my closest friends decided to attend law school at a part-time T4. I am absolutely horrified for her.

I have no experience with part-time programs. My question is: what -should- part-time 1Ls and 2Ls do over their summers? Are they supposed to take classes or intern etc like most full-timers? I asked my friend what her career office told her and I was confused by her response (which I'm not disclosing because I'm curious to hear from the board).

The only other person I know who attended a T4 was apparently told by her career office to take classes over her summers and not to worry about working or internships. I'm not sure if this advice is what she actually received, but I am pretty sure it was incorrect.

Any advice would be appreciated - I'm not trolling or whatever, just a former LSDer returning to the board for advice. I'm sure this might help other students as well. Thanks.

FalconJimmy

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Re: Part-time 1L/2L summers
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2011, 08:43:02 PM »
As bad as it is for full-time 4Ts, the part-timers have it much worse, IMHO.

Most of them are told to continue to take classes in the Summer.  It's presumed that they already have full-time jobs, which is why they can't attend full-time.

Typically a part-timer takes 9 hours in the Fall and Spring and 6 hours in the Summer.  So, a total or 24 hours per year.  If they need 90 hours to graduate, this lets them graduate in 4 years. 

So, unless they want to stretch out law school for 5 or 6 years, they need the Summer classes.

As bad as the law employment market is for full-time 4Ts, it's got to be insane for part-timers.  This is something I'd strongly advise somebody to do full-time or forget it.  The only folks I know who are part-timers either already have a good job, and/or they were terrible applicants and were provisionally admitted as part-timers for a year.

justanothersucker

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Re: Part-time 1L/2L summers
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2011, 10:19:00 PM »
Can you show one source of evidence that an employer anywhere has ever asked if the applicant went full or part time?

Wouldn't going part time basicly increase odds of higher GPA vs everything else in their life being the same but twice the course load?
Do you honestly think an employer is more concerned about the GPA or the # of years it took to graduate?

Do the degrees even reflect it on them? Undergrad sure dosn't for the ones they let do so and/or online.

As bad as it is for full-time 4Ts, the part-timers have it much worse, IMHO.

Most of them are told to continue to take classes in the Summer.  It's presumed that they already have full-time jobs, which is why they can't attend full-time.

Typically a part-timer takes 9 hours in the Fall and Spring and 6 hours in the Summer.  So, a total or 24 hours per year.  If they need 90 hours to graduate, this lets them graduate in 4 years. 

So, unless they want to stretch out law school for 5 or 6 years, they need the Summer classes.

As bad as the law employment market is for full-time 4Ts, it's got to be insane for part-timers.  This is something I'd strongly advise somebody to do full-time or forget it.  The only folks I know who are part-timers either already have a good job, and/or they were terrible applicants and were provisionally admitted as part-timers for a year.

FalconJimmy

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Re: Part-time 1L/2L summers
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2011, 12:44:23 AM »
Can you show one source of evidence that an employer anywhere has ever asked if the applicant went full or part time?

It's on your CV and your transcript.  They know.  Trust me, they know.

Wouldn't going part time basicly increase odds of higher GPA vs everything else in their life being the same but twice the course load?

Not generally.  Part-timers usually have jobs.  They have a disproportionate number of provisional students.  In theory you could go part-time and get a better GPA, but why would a student capable of getting a better GPA want to go part-time?  The point is to graduate and get a job, not to take longer than normal to massage your GPA.


Do you honestly think an employer is more concerned about the GPA or the # of years it took to graduate?

You've never interviewed, have you?  You'll see.  Employers want a full-time student with a high GPA.  That's what they're after.  Being part-time automatically puts you in a lesser strata.  Throw in the fact that you won't have Summer employment, a part-time legal job during the school year, and probably no law review or even moot court and the difference between a full-timer with a high gpa and a part-timer with a high gpa is stark.

You can pitch a fit about this all you want.  Part timers are at a severe disadvantage when it comes time to find work.  I honestly don't care if you believe me or not.  You'll see.

justanothersucker

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Re: Part-time 1L/2L summers
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2011, 01:37:58 AM »
I'm presuming you are right based on your life experiences in those areas. I still can't imagine most schools put part time or full time on their degrees though. Can you post a copy or your (redacted) diploma to show it (minus your name)?

As for the GPA thing. Reread what I asked, IF ALL THINGS THE SAME BUT, so if working then still working, etc.

You seem to have been to a handful of interviews but do you have any ABA (or any other) stats and/or proof? I ask since I know people who swear to God they can read minds..........maybe they can, but some proof would be nice if it can be given.

Can you show one source of evidence that an employer anywhere has ever asked if the applicant went full or part time?

It's on your CV and your transcript.  They know.  Trust me, they know.

Wouldn't going part time basicly increase odds of higher GPA vs everything else in their life being the same but twice the course load?

Not generally.  Part-timers usually have jobs.  They have a disproportionate number of provisional students.  In theory you could go part-time and get a better GPA, but why would a student capable of getting a better GPA want to go part-time?  The point is to graduate and get a job, not to take longer than normal to massage your GPA.


Do you honestly think an employer is more concerned about the GPA or the # of years it took to graduate?

You've never interviewed, have you?  You'll see.  Employers want a full-time student with a high GPA.  That's what they're after.  Being part-time automatically puts you in a lesser strata.  Throw in the fact that you won't have Summer employment, a part-time legal job during the school year, and probably no law review or even moot court and the difference between a full-timer with a high gpa and a part-timer with a high gpa is stark.

You can pitch a fit about this all you want.  Part timers are at a severe disadvantage when it comes time to find work.  I honestly don't care if you believe me or not.  You'll see.

asdfjkl;

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Re: Part-time 1L/2L summers
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2011, 01:46:00 AM »
I cannot imagine graduating from law school without any summer experience. I suppose PTs can intern or work at a firm part-time during the school year. PT students do get experience SOMEHOW, right? Is that how most PT students (should) do it, during the school year? Also I would hope they can fulfill their required hours by getting practical experience during the school year. (Can someone speak to this?)

As for the side issues. PTs don't put "J.D., part-time" on their resume, right? Even if it's on the CV and transcript, I've never heard of employers specifically looking down on part-timers. But if this is true that is very disappointing.

FalconJimmy

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Re: Part-time 1L/2L summers
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2011, 09:55:50 AM »
At my school I have known many part-timers that worked during summer and the school year. You could work 20-30 hours a week during summer and the school year while taking 3 classes or so I know many students that did this. Many of the full-time first year students simply take the night classes so they can work during the day and I have seen no real difference in treatment, status, etc. I have been in many classes with part-time students at night and worked alongside one in an internship and we were treated equally. I had no idea the person was a evening student until they told me they couldn't register until a certain date, but that was the only disadvantage I noticed having to wait a week to register for classes. Otherwise they are completely equal and are even allowed to enroll in the full-time day classes if they are open, which the day classes often are. So no difference at all at least at my school.

Note, I'm not saying the school treats them any worse.  Any student is just a student in the eyes of the school.  A source of revenue.  A person seeking an employable credential.  The school will do what it can to give it to them.

You're saying that you've got part-timers who work 20 hours a week during the semester?  Why are they part-time?  They just want to take longer?

FalconJimmy

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Re: Part-time 1L/2L summers
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2011, 10:15:25 AM »
As for the side issues. PTs don't put "J.D., part-time" on their resume, right? Even if it's on the CV and transcript, I've never heard of employers specifically looking down on part-timers. But if this is true that is very disappointing.

First, no, nobody has "part-time" put on their degree and there is no factual or ethical reason to state that you got the degree part-time on your C.V.  When I said "its on your CV", what I meant was that you can piece together that a person is a part-timer based on the information on the CV. 

What I'm talking about here is initial job opportunities.  If you can establish your career and get things going, yeah, I don't see how it'll make a difference in getting your 2nd or subsequent job.

Also, in hiring processes that are highly bureaucratic (government, JAG, etc.), perhaps its a non-factor.

Obviously, any employer who wants a transcript will know.

Not sure how it's done at other schools, but part-timers are not ranked against the full-timers for class rank at mine.  So, any statement of class rank (3rd out of 30), is going to illustrate that you were not in the full time section.

It's not that employers say, "I don't want to hire a part-timer".  It's the intangibles around being a part-timer that provides the disadvantage.  Again, does a person's school allow a person to be on law review?  I mean, seriously, are people acting like they don't understand the importance of law review when you're competing for jobs?  (The ACTUAL value of law review may be debatable, but the weight it carries with employers is not.)  Is there part-time moot court? 

I don't know how things work at most schools.  Maybe some schools have part-time law review and part-time moot court.

Yes, it's possible you could be a part-timer with a law-related job like an internship/externship, clerkship, associateship, etc.  At that point, though, who in their right mind would do things that way?  If you have that kind of time, why would you not be a full-time student?

I think there, we're trying to evalute a common reality (a full-time student with a part-time law job), versus a fantasy that seldom, if ever, actually exists (a part-time student with the same type of part-time job.)

I guess there could be any number of reasons to be a part-time student, but frankly, the only reasons I see, in actuality, is that a person already has a good job that they don't want to give up or the person had poor academic credentials and was admitted provisionally.  I suppose you could set up another category:  perfectly good students who don't have a full-time job, but who want to attend part-time anyway, but again, I think that's a highly unlikely scenario that really doesn't happen in actuality.

As for the students who are full-time with a job, there is no doubt that at graduation, they'll be at a disadvantage by virtue of the fact that, at a minimum, they won't have any law-related work during school.  They will have the advantage, however, of not NEEDING a job immediately since they already have one.

It's not that employers come in thinking, "No way, no part-timers".  It's that they have a particular profile in mind.  Generally speaking, an employer's wish list, in hierarchical order, involves:

1.  A great school.
2.  A great GPA
3.  Law Review
4.  Significant Summer employment
5.  Nice if they have significant part-time employment
6.  If not Law Review, then Moot court
7.  If not Moot Court, a leadership position in a law student related organization.

To keep this an apples to apples comparison, we'll figure nobody we're talking about has #1.

Part-timers?  Unless we're talking about the fantasy of the student who has no full-time job, but just goes part-time for the heck of it, chances are they won't be able to demonstrate ANY of those other than #2. 

And when they go against a full-time student with a comparable and maybe even slightly lower GPA, at most schools the full-timer might have #3, if not, then #6 or #7, also #4 and maybe #5. 

So, is it a matter of simply segregating:  full-timers over here.  Part-timers over there?  No.  It's the issue that a part-timer is almost never as competitive as a comparable full-timer.  Even in the case of mid-pack and lower students, the full-timer probably has (if he/she has half a brain) significant clinical experience. 

Now, let's address the "perfectly good student who elects, for no apparent reason, to go part-time instead of full" straw-man.  Of the things they're evaluating you for in your interviews, one of them is your ability to manage your time, work hard, etc.  So, yeah, head-to-head, a part-timer with a top 10% class rank and a full-timer with a top 10% class rank are not the same thing.  Not in the eyes of employers.  Not in reality.  If all other things are held equal, the employer knows that the part-timer's GPA done with a lesser workload.

They are, absolutely, trying to assess your ability to manage and handle a big workload.  There is no scenario I can envision where a part-timer is considered the equivalent of a full-timer and the employment realities reflect this.

I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions, but I've never personally encountered a person with a phenomenal career who was a part-time student.  In law, especially, your first job is a huge component of your ultimate destiny.  Part-timers start out in the hole.  Most never make up the gap.

I know that sounds mean and cruel and harsh and judgemental and un-American and whatever.  I don't make the rules.  I'm just telling you what it looks like from where I sit. 

The hiring picture is also mean and cruel and harsh and judgement and un-American and whatever.  You can gripe about unfair it is.  However, if somebody is asking me how it is, I feel it's only responsbile to give them a realistic appraisal of the situation.  Personally, I think going part-time is a mistake.  10 or 20 or 30 years ago, all you needed was the JD to establish a great law career.  Now, you need the JD and as the O/P pointed out, you need practical experience that you gained during school.  The ideal law school graduate in 1980 was a guy with great class rank and law review.  The ideal law school grad in 2010 needs those internships and clerkships, too.

Perhaps some hiring managers could chime in about how on or off base my perception is.

FalconJimmy

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Re: Part-time 1L/2L summers
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2011, 10:34:58 AM »
I still can't imagine most schools put part time or full time on their degrees though.


To the best of my knowledge, you are correct.

FalconJimmy

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Re: Part-time 1L/2L summers
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2011, 11:17:24 AM »
And perhaps appropos of nothing, but I have considered going part-time.  My goal is to hang out my own shingle at graduation.  No doubt that being a full-time law student is a considerable committment. 

What I didn't know and didn't count on, was the degree to which you really NEED to practice under an experienced attorney after graduation.  Even if you intend to go solo, it's best to do so after a few years of learning the ropes from somebody else.  (I suspected this, but rather naively thought that this was a "nice to have" not a "you should probably have".)

So, even if your goal is "just" to hang out a shingle, you need to make yourself attractive to employers at graduation.

I probably could graduate part-time in roughly the same amount of time (maybe one extra semester), since either way, I'd be finishing 1L as a full-timer.  Trouble is, getting on that part-time track just really derails all the intangibles. 

I wouldn't rule it out, but we'll see.  Ultimately, I think being in school is sorta suckish no matter how you slice it and finishing a program on-time and being done with it is usually the path of least pain.

(Also, the debate of, "can you hang a shingle even if you never worked for somebody" is a huge one and outside the scope of this.  Ultimately, I think the answer is "yes".  However, I think it's wise to study under somebody if you can.)