Considering Part-Time Law School? Read This.
Part-time law school can be a wise choice for those who can’t fully dedicate time to a full-time law school education. Typically, part-time law school programs offer alternative scheduling, including evening and weekend classes in a variety of formats—from online to in-person.
A full-time law school program typically takes three years to complete. Part-time programs, on the other hand, offer more flexibility and generally take four years to finish. While part-time programs generally take more time, Kuris says the added benefit of part-time programs is flexibility.
“Some allow part-time students to finish in three years if they take summer courses,” Kuris says. “Students seeking a lighter course load may be able to stretch their program over five years or more.”
LOWER COSTS UPFRONT
The average total cost of law school is $206,180, according to the Education Data Initiative. That’s a large sum of money to shell out. One of the benefits of part-time programs is the ability to pay tuition over time.
“Because part-time programs tend to take longer to complete, the financial burden of your legal education is spread out over a longer time frame,” Kuris says. “Moreover, working during law school – even part time – can help offset educational expenses.”
CONS OF PART-TIME
While part-time programs offer an array of benefits—from flexibility to lower cost upfront—there are drawbacks that applicants should consider. One of those drawbacks is less access to on-campus opportunities.
“Because they may be taking different classes than full-time J.D. students, or going to campus on a wholly different schedule, part-time students may feel less involved in extracurricular campus activities like journals, clinics, moot court competitions and student organizations,” Kuris says. “Part-time students may also have reduced access to on-campus interviews and other employment resources. Most significantly, part-time students committed to work or classes in the summer may not be able to secure summer clerkships and legal internships, which serve as a steppingstone to postgraduate employment.”
If you’re unsure whether or not a part-time program is right for you, Kuris suggests applying to both full-time and part-time programs.
“You may even be able to transfer from a part-time program to a full-time program if you maintain high grades,” Kuris says. “In that way, you can ease into a law school experience while still ending up on even footing with full-time peers.”
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