Do you want to go to law school but can’t attend full-time? Do you have family obligations that you need to make time for? Or, do you have a great job that you don’t want to sacrifice for law school life just yet? Then you might be considering part-time law school. Read on to find out if part-time law school is the best option for you!
Best Part-Time Law Schools
Part-time law programs are usually completed in four years vs. three. The class schedule is more flexible, and usually in the evening. But, this type of program isn’t offered at every law school. Some of the top programs include those at Georgetown Law School in Washington, D.C., Fordham University in New York, and George Washington University also in Washington, D.C.
Benefits of Part-Time Law School
In addition to making time for personal responsibilities, there are several benefits of part-time law school. Before you make your final decisions on where to apply, take a look at these considerations.
Reduce Your Financial Burden
A part-time law school offers the benefit of time to continue working. With full-time programs, working is out of the question. The course schedule will often be too demanding to let you keep a day job. Also, most schools will explicitly ban you from holding a job.
Of course, this means that you’ll have to give up earning an income for three years. For some students, this just isn’t an option. So one of the primary reasons many choose to attend law school part-time is to make time to earn. While it will take longer to earn your J.D., at least you can finish debt-free, or close to it.
Head Start in Your Career
A major benefit of a part-time program is the fact that you won’t have to sacrifice your career to further your education. If you work in the legal field, you can build your career while you attend school. You’d be able to have your cake and eat it, too!
Meet Interesting People
Part-time programs will be filled with alternative-kinds of students with unique life stories who you might be very interested in knowing. You’ll find professionals, like-minded family-people, and perhaps those with great connections. If you’d be excited about meeting a different crowd from traditional law students, then a part-time program might be for you.
Drawbacks of Part-Time Law School
One of the first cons of part-time law school is the potential for getting very distracted. Although a full-time program would take a significant amount of focus, attending school part-time might take even more focus. You won’t have the ability to fully let go of your family or day-time issues. Imagine troubles at work that creep into your mind during your evening courses. While this isn’t the experience of every student, it is definitely an issue to keep in mind and prepare for.
Fewer Networking Opportunities
The second potential disadvantage of a part-time program is the loss of. Networking while attending law school is a crucial part of your career process. You’ll be able to make connections with possible mentors and employers.
However, these networking opportunities, like academic talks, ice-cream socials, and meetings, are usually in the evenings. And during that time, you would be coming from your daytime obligations and going straight to class. So naturally, you’d miss out on the optional law school events.
Since networking is such an important part of the law school experience, it’s definitely worth considering this factor carefully before deciding on a part-time program.
Longer Completion Time
Clearly, a natural consequence of a part-time program is the fact that you’ll graduate later. Typically, the program takes four years to finish, vs. the typical three years of traditional law school.
Some law schools, like Georgetown, allow students to attempt to finish in three years. But then, you’d have to complete summer classes and complete the maximum number of credits during fall and winter terms.
Generally, you’d have to be more responsible for your schedule and law school trajectory. This definitely requires more discipline!
Fewer Law School Options
The last of our cons of part-time law school is the lack of school options. Not every law school offers a part-time program. For example, if you were aiming to attend Harvard Law part-time, unfortunately, that’s not an option. It’s important to check whether your dream schools let you work part-time.
How to Make Your Decision
Ultimately, you’ll want to consider several factors when you decide between a full-time and part-time law program. Are your potential earnings worth foregoing the benefits of traditional law school? Consider, are there other ways you can make time for your obligations? Are you okay with completing law school a year later than necessary?