“Part-time J.D. law programs play a vital role in legal education. According to the American Bar Association, in fall 2008 about 16 percent of all J.D. students were enrolled part time. For many working adults, attending part time is the only way they can afford to go to law school and meet their other commitments. Fewer than half of all law schools have part-time programs, which may be offered either in the evening or the day. Part-time programs generally take four years to complete instead of three years for full time programs.”
Some of our Law School Podcaster listeners are among those considering part-time law school programs, and they’ve asked for more information on this topic. They asked us how the application and admissions process for part-time law school differs from full-time programs and what law schools do to help part-time students gain the type of legal experience that will help them secure legal employment after graduation. In our latest podcast, “Part-Time Or Full-Time Law School: Which Makes Sense For You?,” we get some answers to these questions by talking with the deans of admissions and career services at four law schools with part-time programs and with a a current part-time student.
Law School Podcaster Host/Producer, Diana Jordan, interviewed Andy Cornblatt, Dean of Admissions, Georgetown University Law Center; Stephen Brown, Fordham Law School, Dean of Enrollment Services and Jannell Roberts, Assistant Dean of Admissions, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles to get some insight into how the admissions committees weigh part-time applications, the timeline for applying, the credentials of full-time versus part-time applicants and the differences they see in applicant pools.
Our guests share some of the specific pros and cons about a part-time law school schedule and curriculum and what students gain — as well as well as some of the things they might miss — in going part-time. We even hear from our guests about what happens if you opt for part-time and then you decide you want to go full-time instead, or, vice-versa.
Our show also examines career prospects for part-time students. Melissa Lennon, Assistant Dean for Career Planning, Temple University, Beasley School of Law notes that one of the challenges in a tight job market, particularly for part-time students, is to have legal experience. “Employers will look for some kind of legal experience gained during the law school period. So, if you would not have the opportunity to get an internship, to do a clinic, to do things like that, sometimes that’s the challenge. I mean, that’s always been a challenge for people who attend law school at night and I think it always will be. We do our best to make different opportunities available to them. For example, in our clinical program, you know, a lot of those programs are based around courts. So, let’s say you’re representing people hoping to get social security, disability benefits, you can only represent those clients in court and court is generally, you know, held during business hours. So, if you can’t be available during business hours, then that clinic is not available to you. So, there is just some immovable kind of obstacles that stand in the way. On the other hand, it really does help a part-time student when they’re applying to employers who are in their industry or in related industries. So, they already have all of this experienced in that particular business or in that particular arena. So, there are some ways that it can be really a benefit that a day division student would never have had. I mean, some evening division students have just an incredible wealth of knowledge and understanding about how a particular industry works. They tack the JD on to that and that’s a terrific package you’re putting together.”
Finally, we put these questions to Meghan Morris, a part-time law student at Georgetown University Law Center, who is currently working on Capitol Hill. She shares with us what she likes — and what she feels she gives up — in striking the balance between a full-time day job and going to law school at night.
Listen here to the full show.