The Best Schools and Programs for Part-Time Law
If the motto for the Peace Corps is “the toughest job you’ll ever love,” then the slogan for part-time law school should be “the toughest program you’ll ever enter.”
The full-timers may dub part-time programs as “law school lite,” but they have little idea what evening students go through. Imagine getting up early, working a full-time job, spending four evenings a week in class, and then losing your weekends to reading cases and writing outlines. Oh…and picture running at that pace for four straight years. Forget about family and friends, let alone football and festivities. It takes desire and endurance to battle through the exhaustion and doubt. A lighter load? Ha! This is law school on steroids. And it’s not for the faint of heart.
Sure, there are plenty of downsides to part-time programs. The working stiffs often don’t have the same access to extracurriculars, seminars, or externships. Sometimes, they may not even feel part of the “real” law school. In the part-time program, they are among peers: Older, wiser, and full of rich experience applicable to understanding the law in its practical sense. Oh, and there often isn’t the same obsession with grades and rankings, either. Learning and surviving are their own rewards.
According to the American Bar Association’s latest data, roughly 15% of the nearly 150,000 American law school students are enrolled in part-time programs. So which schools offer the best programs? The U.S. News & World Report criteria for ranking part-time programs differ from how they evaluate specialties. Here, half of the assessment is based off ratings from deans and three faculty members of accredited law schools, with a score of 1 representing “marginal” and 5 being “outstanding.” Over a quarter of the score is based on LSAT scores and GPAs, with the rest derived from factors like class size, field placements, clinical courses, and participation by students in law journals, competitions, and seminars.
Here is U.S. News’ ranking of the top 10 part-time law school programs:
(Click on next page to see school rankings)