Friday, January 18, 2008

The Benefits of Attending Law School Part Time

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.


  1. 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?


  2. 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.

  3. 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.


  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. 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. 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.


  9. 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,

  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!


  12. 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. 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?

  14. Hi Justin - I'm no longer using this blog so I answered your comment here: