The Benefits of Attending Law School Part Time

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My post on Wednesday was geared toward those who really want to be full time law students but were considering applying part time due to perceived lower numerical standards.
Today’s post is geared toward those that really will be working and/or taking care of families in addition to attending law school and for whom part time programs are their best option for applying to law school.
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.

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.
2. Faculty and student services related offices are not usually available at night.
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).

I’m happy to answer any questions, but remember that each school’s program is different and for individual policies and circumstances you need to talk to admissions officers at the school you’re considering attending.

60 thoughts on “The Benefits of Attending Law School Part Time

  1. Monique on said:

    Hi Ann,

    I will need to attend a part-time program since I work full-time and have a family to care for.

    And to graduate you must attend summer school. How would one get the necessary “real world” experience if attending part-time in the evenings and summer?

    Thanks,
    Monique

  2. Ann K. Levine, Esq. on said:

    Hi Monique,
    If you want to graduate in 4 years, you usually have your summers free to gain experience. Also, you could work in the legal field during the day while attending law school in the evenings.
    Ann

  3. Anonymous on said:

    I applied to a tier 4 law school in Texas and I have a gpa of 2.33 and a lsat score of 139. I have five years work experience and am currently working in a law firm to gain experience. I selected the evening, part-time program because I have a family and will be working during the day. Any feedback would be helpful.

    Ang

  4. Hi Ann, I just found out I’ve been accepted to law school and I start this summer in the evenings. Normally I work full time but right now Im working a temp position. I’m considering taking on a perm fulltime job to make better money but it will come with much more responsibilty. Do you think its a bad idea to start a new job with increased responsibility when I’m getting ready to start law school?

  5. Ann K. Levine, Esq. on said:

    Hi KMM, I think you answered your own question : )
    Law school, even part time, is stressful. It’s hard enough to add law school into your life. Adding law school and a new job sounds crazy. However, you know what you can handle. Just don’t sacrifice law school in the mix. Once you find yourself on academic probation, reapplying is extremely arduous.
    Good luck with everything.

  6. Hi Ann, I didnt have the best greades during my undergrad years.. but I went to grad school and have maintained an A- average. Do you think law schools will weigh heavily on my uundergrad GPA? Also, I have been working full-time int he legal field and have a lot of experience to show for the past 2 years.

    Do you think the part-time programs are more willing to accept me? What is a good LSAT score for the evening programs?? thanks!!

  7. Ann K. Levine, Esq. on said:

    Hi Carmen,
    If significant time has passed since your undergrad years, then schools are more likely to discount the undergraduate GPA and the performance in grad school will be a subjective “plus” factor in your favor (unless it’s from University of Phoenix….)
    Two years isn’t that significant – your undergrad grades will still be important.
    Each school’s part time program has different standards for LSATs; there’s no overarching magic number among all part time programs.
    Good luck with everything!

  8. Hello Ann,

    I graduated from a strong liberal arts university two years ago with a BA in history. Since then, I’ve worked in flight operations at a major airline. I’d like to continue this work while pursuing a J.D. at night; I’m interested in aviation law. How would an admissions office look at two years of non-legal work experience? I have a 3.35 GPA and 160 LSAT.

    Respectfully,
    Justin

  9. Ann K. Levine, Esq. on said:

    Justin,
    You will find that your colleagues in a part time law program will come from many different professions, and not just legal ones. You will also see that law schools value the sophistication of your two years of work experience, as opposed to -say- two years as a file clerk or legal secretary.

  10. Hi Ann,

    I am a paralegal directing an NGO’s branch office in DC (focused on international human rights work and rule of law) which includes great opportunities, e.g. editing a law journal, speaking, management, etc. I would like further legal education (and just took the LSAT), but don’t have an undergrad degree and at this point feel like I would have back-up significantly to get one. I would appreciate any suggestions for applying to law school with this kind of resume. Also, I know of a foreign law school which would probably accept me (and their students can petition to take the bar in some states); would it be hard to transfer to a US ABA-law school after first year overseas?

    Many thanks,
    Jenny

    • Jenny, without a bachelor degree you’ll have a very hard time being admitted to a U.S. law school and perhaps even passing the bar. Don’t think of continuing your education as “backing up” – you can’t move forward without this. Good luck to you.

  11. I know this is last year’s blog, but I just found it. My scenario: I work full as a paralegal going 12 years. I received my first BS in 2000 with a GPA of 2.25. With an LSAT score of 141, I knew that was not good enough to get into law school. I went back to school in 2003 and got a 2nd BS and graduated with a 3.71 GPA and subsequently went to Grad school and finished with a 3.55 GPA in 2008. Question: Since LSDAS does not calculate Grad School GPA, and other than getting a better score on the LSAT (which I will be taking in Feb 09) what else can I do to improve my chances at getting admitted. (Schools of choice: Nova Southeastern in Davie, FL., and F.I.U in Miami). They’re the only two law schools that offer part-time evening programs in the Miami area. Thanks!

    Juan

  12. Ann K. Levine, Esq. on said:

    Hi JLo. The ingredients within your control on the application include the responses to questions, essays, addenda to explain weaknesses, resume, letters of rec, etc. Each of these – and your interactions with the schools- must be as strong as possible. It’s late int the cycle to apply, of course, but helps if you’re applying PT. I urge you to submit applications ASAP and not wait until after the February LSAT.

  13. Justin left this comment on the old blog and I wanted to address it here:
    “Hi! I have a question, I got a family and a full-time job, I want to go to law school part-time but the school is about 45 mins away from where I live. I am wondering if part-time students usually go every night or is it a few nights a week?”

    Usually, night school is 4 nights a week – Monday through Thursday.

  14. Michael vaughan on said:

    Hi, I am an undergraduate currently, and I really would like to be a lawyer. After I graduate, if I do attend law school, I was thinking of attending a part time program so I can work while in school because I can’t afford school and also to pay rent etc.. But is it still possible to work while in a full-time program? Lets say I work about 25 to 30 hours a week, would that be too much in a full-time program? or is part-time better?

  15. Raymond on said:

    Hi, Ann
    I am currently caught between going to graduate school of law school. I have hired a private tutor to tutor me for the LSAT, and I will begin a GMAT prep course in May. What are some of the benefits of attaining a law dregree opossed to a MBA? By the way I currently work fulltime.

  16. Hi Ann,

    I have been stressing over this decision for awhile, so I’m glad I found your blog. I am currently accepted to Quinnipiac’s Day division with 1/2 tuition break. However, in light of the economy and poor job growth in the legal sector, I feel very strongly about taking on a full time job while in school. The job is not located near Quinnipiac, and Quinnipiac itself does not offer deferment. This leaves me with a choice between the Quinnipiac for three years full time with only part time work, or pursuing a career while attending Suffolk Law at night. Considering, Quinnipiac’s rising reputation, would it be a poor choice to gamble my legal degree in favor of career experience (and less debt) to which I could then apply a JD? (The job I can work while in school is in the field where I plan to make my career.) Thanks for the advice.

    • I think if you can make it through Suffolk and save considerable money AND be ranked highly in your class then you’ll be ok…. Particularly if you make connections in the Boston area and are able to really network there. Ask the attorneys at your new job and see what they think of the school. That’ll be pretty telling. Good luck!

  17. Hi,
    I’ve average grades in my undergrad however I took online MBA courses and A’s on three courses but unfortunately I can’t carry on because my company cut down the education budget due to the economical down time. My question has two parts, one should I show that I took MBA courses as my recent work (it’s from one of those online universities)? Would this help me getting into ‘good’ law school? OR by showing MBA back fire me since I didn’t complete my MBA?

    • Sal,
      You have to report the courses, but it’s not going to be of any help to you in the law school admission process because (1) you didn’t complete the program and (2) it was an online school. These facts won’t keep you out of a law school that would otherwise admit you, but they aren’t going to be seen as plus factors either.
      I hope this helps.

  18. Dear Ann,
    I am a 48 year old white female with a 20 years of outstanding professional criminal legal/law background, hold public office, seved in strong civic leadership postions, and have great personal references. My highest LSAT score was 138 on the Princeton Reveiw practice exams. My GPA is 3.4.
    I was told not to apply to law school with that score as no school would probably accept me. I have never applied to a law school yet because of this issue.
    I want to attend part time as I need to continue to work. I really don’t think I can improve my score that much.
    Can I not overcome this obstacle and gain admission? Considering my experience, I am shocked this test is such a strong measure of what I would be capable of doing.What kind of law school would like my qualifications? Can you help?
    Thank you for your your blog… it gave me some real hope.

    • Diana,
      Thanks for your question. It’s not that you can’t overcome this – it’s that you need to get your score to the point that a law school can consider your additional qualifications. If Princeton Review isn’t working for you, find another way – private tutor sessions might be enough to show you what you’re not understanding about the test. Good luck, and don’t take the test until your practice exams are about 10 points higher than they are now.
      Good luck!

  19. Hi Ann,

    This fall, I will be working full-time 9-5 and taking 2 classes in the evening (Contract and Torts). As a former part-time student yourself, do you have advice for how I should study and structure my time? Thank you.

    • Great question! Well, law school was a long time ago for me but what I remember is using my lunch hours and weekends to outline as I read (saving me time outlining later) and then taking Friday afternoons off from both law school and work so I had some sanity in my life. Two classes should be do-able. Just don’t let yourself get behind – try to stay a week ahead of the reading and take good notes. Good luck!

  20. Hi Ann,

    I’m in serious dilemma and couldn’t make a decision regarding selection of PT program; your expert opinion will be greatly appreciated. The only PT program available in my vicinity is in San Antonio. The school doesn’t have any ranking yet produce few law graduates every year. I’m very hard working person and I had done my undergrads under tremendous strain & pressure and I’m sure I can do it again. However, I don’t want to be in situation where I couldn’t find work after graduation. My question is, does is worth giving a short, sacrificing next 4 years with this sort of school? Just to add bit more, I’m 38 years old and I always wanted to be a lawyer, and this is the last chance for me to get into law school before it gets too late. Please advice…

    Thanks
    Sal

  21. Hi Sal,
    Thanks for writing. If possible, I always suggest attending an ABA accredited school unless you don’t have any other options. Unless you’re planning to open your own law practice after graduation and only stay in TX for the rest of your life, it’s a difficult bet to place, you know?
    Ann

  22. Thanks Ann. Sorry! Forgot to mention, apparently they claim St Mary’s is ABA accredited school, but I don’t see any ranking in USNews 2009 ranking list. It’s in tier 4 but N/A under ranking, which makes me think, it doesnt have any ranking.

  23. Ah! That’s your answer! Third and fourth tier schools are not individually ranked by USNews! They are just lumped into tiers. I thought you were talking about a new law school in San Antonio…. St. Mary’s is fully accredited.

  24. Thanks Ann, for clearing it up. So based on your experience you think its well worth investing time & efforts for St Mary’s? Again my intension is to get into PT program and St Mary is the only PT school in my area. I’m getting mix comments regarding this school’s reputation which makes me confuse and reluctant to move forward.

    Thanks

  25. Sal,
    It all depends on what other options might be available to you based on your credentials and geographic flexibility. I wish you the best of luck in this endeavor – definitely do your research and let me know if I can help you in any way.

  26. Ann,

    I am currently finishing my bachelors degree, it will be completed in December, in health services administration and plan on taking the LSAT in June and start law school in September. I have previous undergrad course work at a community college and Arizona State. I transferred these credits to Baker College in Michigan where I have completed my degree using their online component. No one will know that my degree is from online classes, it will only say Baker College on it. I currently have a 3.89 GPA. My degree is in health services administration, I am currently working in the health field, and plan to go into health law. I want to attend Cooley Law school (Lansing, MI) as it is really the only law school in my area and they offer a weekend program. I will need to work and have a child to care for. My questions are, will I be able to work full time or should I look for part time employment. Will finishing my Bachelors online hurt me, will they even be able to tell? Will my transferred courses be counted into my current GPA. My previous academic record wasn’t so great but it is not recent and I am currently (for the last two years at Baker) an excellent student.

    Thanks,

    Angela

    • Hi Angela, Since you’re applying to Cooley I’m less concerned about online classes. Normally, I would say it’s crazy to take the June LSAT for September admission, but Cooley might be the exception to that. If you want to make it through Cooley and you have family obligations, I highly recommend working as little as possible since the school is known for giving people a shot, but also for weeding out those who do not demonstrate an ability to make it through the program.
      Good luck with everything and let me know if I can help in any way.

  27. Ann,

    Another quick question regarding the LSAT. I was considering taking it in February but was unsure if that would give me enough time to prepare for it. I cannot afford a prep course so I am going to go the self study route. Should I be taking it in Feb. for Sept admission?

    Angela

  28. Angela,
    February is a better plan. Try 3-4 months of self study and if your practice exam scores don’t go beyond the mid 140s, definitely enlist help. Good luck! Also check out LSAT advice blogs and testsherpa.com.
    Ann

  29. Ann,
    Thanks for prompt reply. I agree I need to find the right way for how I learn. I have thought recently about a tutor. I took the reveiw class a few years ago and now I am debating on whether I should take a prep class again, or just go for the tutoring given my very low score from the last time. Since I am starting over again which do you think would be the best approach? I don’t want to spend money needlessly but do want a winning approach.
    Thanks so much,
    Diana

    • Hi Diana,
      There are wonderful self-study and supplemental tutorial programs for the LSAT, and prep courses at different price ranges. If you look through some of my blog posts on LSAT Prep I think you’ll learn about some great options.Good luck!
      Ann

  30. Diana Queen on said:

    Hi Ann,
    Thanks for your response and support! I guess I will start over and see how well I do on the practice tests in Feburary. I have decided my motto will be “you can’t push the river”. 🙂 I just need to find an approach that works for me, apply myself again, and master this.
    I will take a look at your suggested options!
    Thank you,
    Diana

  31. Hello Ann,

    I need serious advise on what are my chances of getting into any law school here in South Florida? (Nova, FIU, St. Thomas) since I’m a single mother and unable to travel. I graduated from FIU with a GPA of 3.2 and my current LSAT is of 138. I will be retaking it in Feb ’12 and hoping for my score to go up (drastically) so I can start applying. I’m borderline freaking out and dont want to lose my hopes of getting into law school.

  32. Hi Ann,
    I plan to take the LSAT in June (and maybe again in October if I don’t get the score that I want) and apply to law school in November. I graduated from undergrad in 2001 and have 9 years of work experience in the technology field, so I’m kinda interested in “cyberlaw”, but I’m very interested in public interest law – I know they’re areas of law that are worlds apart. Anyway, I plan to enroll in a part-time program while I continue working full-time. My question is: how do people make the transition from non-legal careers to legal careers upon graduating from part-time law programs? My working full-time throughout law school would mean that I won’t be able to do any summer internships at a law firm, so how would I be able to get experience in order to get my first job as an attorney? Would my previous experience help or would my resume just get tossed to the side when prospective employers see that I have no legal experience?

    • Hi Jerl,
      Great question! You will probably alter your work schedule at some point in law school to take on practical experience, and if you don’t then you’ll have to network and find people who know you because of your current experience and network that way. You will need legal experience and legal connections.

  33. Amanda on said:

    Ann,

    What do you think my probability of getting into FIU Law Part Time? I have a 3.3 GPA and scored a 149 on my LSAT. I have also worked at a law firm for the past 3 years so I do have legal experience. I applied to Nova and St. Thomas and was accepted into both programs Full Time. I decided to apply to FIU part time because my chances were relatively better since I did not score as highly as I wish I did on the LSAT. I was also wondering do law schools admit those individuals who are older more so than the younger ones when it comes to part time law students? I’m a bit worried because the median age for part time law students at FIU is 28 and I am currently 7 years younger than that.

    • Amanda, as a matter of policy, I do not comment on chances of getting into schools but I will answer the question about part time programs – there is not a bias against younger students if your experience, credentials, and reasons for going part time make you a good candidate for a part time program. I started at UM law as a part time student with a full time job at the age of 22. I was among the youngest, but not alone. (Of course, this was a long time ago : )

  34. Hello,

    I have a senior director role in technology field in a large storage company. As I am approaching 40, I become more and more concerned on my future in this line of work. I do not se many engineers over 50, and this leads me to strongly consider law degree – I plan to become patent lawyer, or

    • Ann Levine on said:

      Hi Craig,
      You may want to reach out to attorneys who went to law school in their 40s and talk with them about their career options.

  35. Hi Anne,
    Is a part time law degree the same as a full time law degree? Would anyone else know the difference? Do the diplomas give any indication of full or part time programs?
    Thanks, Jeff

  36. Hello Ann
    I have a different case . I graduated from FIU with a 2.6 BA in Psychology. Then I when to UM and got an MBA in healthcare adm and Finance 3.25. I had the opportunity to do JD but I was to busy with my business and let go of the opportunity. Well, my life took a tumble an I lost everything for making the wrong decision in my personal life and business life ($17M). I hit bottom when I was arrested twice. The first was nope pros but the second I was put in probation for mariguana probation . Therefore I served 9 month of the two years. In that time I when back to school a I just finish MS taxation 3.7 GPA and I sitting for the CPA exams this month. My goal is to become a tax attorney what is your advise??? I would like to go to FIU??
    Thank you for your advice

  37. Hi Ann,

    So I have taken a LSAT prep course. I started at a 125 during my first practice exam, when I took the exam 6 months later I got a 145. It was bitter sweet because I gained 20 points, but it still a horrible score. My gpa is a 2.9. However my major was english/math. So I hope they took that into a lot of consideration. I have been wait listed. I just can’t afford to wait. So I enrolled in a paralegal program at Hofstra. I went there as a undergrad student. It is a 6 month program. Now only a handful of school take freshman spring semester students. I will still be at Hofstra 9-1. I want to know if my chances are slightly decent of getting into a part time program at Pace. Since the program does not count for any credits. I am unsure if I can send them scores from that program. However, I wanted to get a letter of recommendation from a professor that teaches the class. So at least they will not be seeing the same application the second time around.(First time they accidentally sent me something in the mail that was only meant for “admitted” students and I was still in “review”, needless to say they denied me 3 weeks later) I guess what I am trying to say is, do I have a decent shot at getting into the part time program at Pace? Does it look bad to law schools that I am doing this program? i wanted to do something related to the field and I did not want to waste my time just working ( the program also includes and internship at a law office/judge.

    • Ann Levine on said:

      Hi Lucia,
      I think some of what you are doing makes a lot of sense – showing an interest in law, getting law related experience/knowledge, a new letter of rec/internship – this is all good stuff. It’s certainly worth a try!

  38. Hi Ann,

    After taking a few years off to work in the environmental field, I’m looking to apply to law school for the fall of 2015. As seems to be the case with many of the other commenters, there are a few complicating factors.

    First, I went to an undergrad school (where I struggled). that had narrative evaluations, rather than grades. I have a GPA of 3.1 for the classes I took off-campus (about 40 credits), but this is misleading because I failed several on-campus, non-graded classes. If I were to honestly approximate a GPA that reflects my evaluations/class fails, it’d probably be about 2.3-2.7. I have done a lot of growing up since then (reflected by and upward trend in my college performance and two years of very successful job experience), but I will only be 3 years out of college when applying.

    I have taken an LSAT practice test and, without any preparation, scored a 166. Looking at the questions I got wrong, I’m fairly confident I can work my up to consistent scores of at least 170. My questions are:

    A) How do law schools consider students who come from colleges without grades?

    B) How will law schools regard an application that has a very low GPA, but a fairly high lsat? Am I a viable candidate?

    Nick

    • Ann Levine on said:

      Nick, in your case, letters of recommendation take on additional performance, and your LSAT score being high helps to make the case that your performance as an undergraduate (graded or otherwise) is not the biggest indicator of your potential success in law school. If you are starting in the mid-160s you have tons of potential. You are what they would call a “splitter” with a high LSAT and lower GPA, and you will be a candidate for law schools, of course.

  39. Moniqua on said:

    Hi there, i’ve been looking all over but cant seem to find not one example. Do you happen to know what a general part time DAY schedule looks like for part time law students? The most I know, says that it will be everyday M-F…

  40. What a great resource you have here Ann, are you still offering insight to prospective law students through this forum?

  41. Bonnie Lewis on said:

    Dear Ann:

    I hope you are doing fine.

    I came across your blog and thought I would get a ‘wise answer’ from your expertise in the law school prep arena. I have been studying on and off for ‘FIVE’ years and have canceled the LSAT tests numerous times well before taking it because of my low test practice scores. I have taken just about every live prep test and on-line prep test, as well as the numerous books I have purchased which has accumulated close to $10,000.

    For two years now I have been the sole caretaker of my mother (Alzheimers) and have canceled the test four times within this period. I am scheduled for this fall to take the test and I am trying to get up at 6:00 every morning to study before I begin work (that I fortunately am able to get downloaded to work from home).

    Getting a tutor is out of my budget since I have lost a significant amount of income by working at home. The LSAT programs out there are ‘all the same’ with the same approach. I have yet to find any class, live or in-person, that can go right to each LR question and equip me with the thought process of A-Z in getting the right answer.

    I take much too long in trying to decipher the answer. I am averaging about half right and half wrong. I am absolutely depressed when I get three or more answers incorrect in a row. I feel stuck and wish there was someone out there that could assist in guiding me to conquer this seemingly impenetrable wall. I am willing to travel to that person and pay a minimal amount for an hour or two, but when it comes to $200 an hour that takes from paying the household monthly bills.

    Determined to make my dream a reality and reaching out for help.

    Bonnie

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