The Benefits of Attending Law School Part Time

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Thinking about attending law school part-time? For those of you who are working and/or taking care of families in addition to attending law school, part time programs are the best option. If you attend part time without attending summer school, you will finish law school in four years rather than three. However, you also have more freedom to work during law school. This helps you pay for law school, obviously, but also gives you the opportunity to gain additional work experience while attending law school.

I know about attending law school part time because, when I began law school in 1996, I was a part-time evening student. I was busy pursuing a full time career in advertising and while I wanted to go to law school, I wasn’t ready to give up my full time job. Here are some things I loved about being an evening student:

  1. Nice people. My classmates were mostly older, had jobs and families, and had things in perspective. They were willing to work together and enjoy each other a little more than I think most of the younger, full-time day students were.
  2. Faculty treated us more like adults and were (generally) more respectful toward the night students.
  3. A little bit smaller of a section.
  4. By attending summer school after my first year of law school, I was able to transfer to the full time/day program at my law school and graduate in three years.

Here were some of the not so great things:

  1.  To take advantage of clubs and organizations (I was the Evening program Student Bar Association Representative, among my other involvements), you pretty much need to be available during the day. If you want to attend speaker events and lunches, you need to be available during the day.
  2.  Faculty and student services related offices are not usually available at night, including faculty office hours.
  3.  You’re on a different curve than the day students, and they perceive the program as being “easier” since you can get on law review with a 3.5 and they need a 3.7 (for example….. this is not always the case, but is one of the sticky wickets about being a night student).
  4. You need to take summer school to graduate in 3 years (at most schools).
  5. It’s really, really tiring. I developed an addiction to iced lattes (before the time of Starbucks) before it was cool. And if you are not a night person, attending a legal writing section until 9:50 pm really sucks.

Is it easier to get into a part time program? Really, no. It’s not. If numbers look lower it’s because the target market for part time law school programs have lower scores and GPAs. Why? Because they probably studied for the LSAT and attended college while working also.

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