Law School Discussion

Part Time Law School- A good idea?

Part Time Law School- A good idea?
« on: July 24, 2006, 06:09:03 AM »
I posted this on one of the other forums and really got no response, so I thought I'd try it here.  Basically, I'm 4 years out of UG in a fairly lucrative field that I'm positive I can levarage into an even more lucrative and rewarding law career.  The only thing that has been stopping me thus far is the massive debt load required to make it happen.  For me, part time law school with a part time work schedule (<20 hrs/week) seems like an ideal solution. I could make enough to live on and pay down some tuition and get out with a LOT less debt that if I went fulltime, allowing me to follow the law career that I want, not necessarily the one that pays enough for massive student loans. 

The question here is whether this is a good idea.  Are law schools more reluctant to admit someone if they are a part time applicant? Do potential employers after law school view part time graduates as "lesser" law students?  Is law school just so hard that, even with a part time schedule, holding down a job would be too much?  What am I missing that might make this a bad idea?

Jolie Was Here

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Re: Part Time Law School- A good idea?
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2006, 06:59:01 AM »
I know that there are some non-trads on here who are currently studying law part time, so I hope that they'll chime in (specifically, where's the King?)

When I finally caved (after years of interest) and took the LSAT, my thinking was that I'd attend a regional school part-time and continue to work.  I had reasonable expectation (ie, a virtual promise from one of the schools) that I'd qualify for a full tuition scholarship.  Since it was the fear of additional (and substantial) debt that had held me back, it sounded like the perfect plan. 

However, the more I talked to my colleagues and law acquaintances, the more I was discouraged from the plan.  What it finally came down to for me was that it would be very difficult to do what I hoped to do with my JD by going part time. 

But I definitely don't think this is universally true.  You seem to be on the right track -- thinking about where you want to take your JD, and what you need to get there.  I'm sorry I don't have more substantive answers. 


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Re: Part Time Law School- A good idea?
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2006, 11:08:33 AM »
I think if you're in a good place with your career right now and you want to get a second degree, be it law, MBA or a grad program, part time is the right way to go. I would like to caution, however, that it is a rough time committment. One of my colleagues did her JD through G'Town PT and said if she had to do it over again, she would have done FT because it really put a strain on her work/school/family life balance. I have heard similiar comments from friends in other PT grad degress. You also have less opportunities to participate in programs like Law Review, etc.

Just know going in that you may have a lot of trade offs. But if you were to go FT, you'd also have that higher level of stress. In your situation, PT does sound like a good choice.

Re: Part Time Law School- A good idea?
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2006, 12:03:53 PM »
I'll be working 24 hours a week as a technical writer for a civil engineering firm and going part time to law school this fall.   The only downside that I know of is that you won't be able to take summer associate positions if you have to work.  As I'm sure you know, big law firms hire, almost exlusively, students who have served as summer associates before graduating. 

It is a great way to save money on tuition/living expenses though.  By going to a state school at night, I'll spend about $100K less for LS than I would if I went to a private school of equal reputation full time (~$50K rather than ~$150K). 

I talked to a career placement person at the school I plan to attend and they said it is definitly possible to get jobs at big firms but it is not as common for PT students as it is for FT students.   

A partner I know at a mid sized firm encouraged me to go part time.

That's about all that I know.  Good luck making your decision!

Re: Part Time Law School- A good idea?
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2006, 12:27:23 PM »
Are law schools more reluctant to admit someone if they are a part time applicant?

Only schools with a PT program admit PT students.  Are you looking at a particular school in your area or are you able to move easily?  This may be a big deciding factor for you.  I applied to a number of schools but in the end, the strain of trying to go to a school other than the one in the city I live in was too much.  It ended up being that either I was going to go to the local school or I wasn't going to law school at all for now.

Re: Part Time Law School- A good idea?
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2006, 04:13:14 PM »
I initially had the same plan as Jolie. I intended to go to the local part-time program with a full scholarship and work full-time as a teacher. I quickly came to realize that teaching here in my subject area would likely require me to take 5 to 10 additional classes within my first two years, not to mention all the grading I'd have to do outside of class. It just didn't make sense for me to go part-time, but if I had a job I liked that was more flexible, I probably would have taken the money and ran.

My suggestion is to apply to both full-time and part-time jobs, because you never know what will happen over the course of the admissions cycle. You may get a full-time scholarship offer that is pretty amazing. You'll also want to check out the quality of the PT program when compared with the FT program. For the most part, they are the same, but I've heard of a few schools that tend to neglect the PT students.

Re: Part Time Law School- A good idea?
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2006, 05:14:57 PM »
Most PT programs do take 4 years, but many programs will allow you to switch over to full-time after the first or second year so you can still finish in 3 years including summers.

Re: Part Time Law School- A good idea?
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2006, 07:43:04 PM »
Thanks for all the input.  I'm fortunate enough to live in an area with several schools close by that have PT programs, and I am in the fortunate position of having an employer that will work out a PT work schedule for me to get my hours down to about 20/week at a proportional pay rate.  A lot of water has to flow under the bridge for me now, but assuming that I do well enough on the LSAT in Sept to offset a mediocre GPA, I should be able to get into one of the regional schools here and be able to think about starting in Sept. '07.  So much to do, so little time!

Part time and over 30?
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2006, 09:22:00 AM »
Has anyone began the process after 30?  Any thoughts or experiences are welcomed.

Re: Part Time Law School- A good idea?
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2006, 10:05:02 AM »
I went to LS in the evenings while working full time (I left during second semester of 1L becuase of a job transfer that I couldn't turn down). And I'm well over 30...

I can't compare PT to FT because I wasn't really on campus during the days. I can tell you that PT felt a bit isolated. A lot happens during the day, and if you are working, you're left out.

I appreciated the fact that a lot of my classmates had varying backgrounds and experience, as opposed to mostly coming straight from undergrad. We did have a few of the "kids" in the class, but they were nice. Most of them were just counting the days until they could finish the first year so they could transfer to the day program.

It was a bit disconcerting to listen to some of the kids complain about the workload, though, knowing that they had no jobs or families, and therefore had infinitely more time to work on stuff than I did. On the other hand, I had my stuff together because of my time constraints, so I was often much better prepared than they were.

Make no mistake - PT law school is still stressfull as hell. Your professors don't care that you didn't get any sleep last night because the baby was sick and then you worked a full day today. The workload is staggering, even with fewer classes than the FT students (remember, also, that because you meet one night for 3 hours instead of having three 1-hour classes throughout the week, you have a lot more reading assigned for each class). Legal writing is a time-killer, too - Probably the worst one.

You need to be very disciplined. I would read and brief cases every night. I would also spend my lunch hour reading and briefing cases. If a paper was due in two weeks, I'd start pulling cases the next day and putting together a plan in my head for how to tackle it. I'd generally be up until 12 or 1am Friday - Sunday night when a paper was due on Monday or Tuesday. I would do as much as humanly possible on the weekends to prepare for the upcoming week to stay on target with the reading.

Basically, it was hell - and I loved every minute of it (well, probably not, but much like pregnancy, time has a way of healing the hurt).

If you will only be working PT, going to law school PT shouldn't be a problem. Plenty of people in your class will have FT jobs. The key to law school is simply keeping up. Everybody will have to devise their own plan of how to best achieve that.