Students who are interested in pursuing a law degree need to think about a question that may have never crossed their minds: Should they go to law school full-time? There are many factors to consider when making this decision. This article will help future lawyers make the best choice.
Consideration #1: Financial status
Most law school applicants are concerned about the cost of student loans and law school. Public law schools average $25,000 annually to attend. On average, private schools cost $45,000 per school year. This tuition does not include books, housing, or study materials. Although financial aid and scholarships are possible, it is likely that schooling will be quite expensive.
- Students often ask: Can I work while in law school?
Although the American Bar Association (ABA), used to restrict students’ ability to work while pursuing their law degrees, this restriction has been largely lifted. Many law schools have their own rules about how much a student can earn while in law school. Some schools will not allow work, while others have a 20-hour limit.
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Although a job may ease your financial stress, it is not without its challenges. You may have to work a physically or mentally demanding position, which could impact your mental health and studies. Part-time law is a good option if finances are a concern. This way you may not have as many scholarships, but you still have the option to choose your work-school balance.
Consideration #2: Time availability
Do you need to be a lawyer right now? The shortest education time for those who are eager to be called “Esquire” is usually three years. The majority of law schools have a three-year curriculum. There is no way to get out of school in that timeframe.
Part-time law schools will likely require you to take fewer than 12-15 credits per semester. Your program may take up to four years to complete. It may not be important to you but it may be something you should consider if you’re not in a hurry.
Consideration #3: School prestige
Although a university’s “prestige” is largely subjective, it can still be a significant factor for some students. Many law school applicants have their sights set on the Ivy League, or a school that ranks among the top 10 US News & World Report schools. Georgetown University is the most highly ranked school that offers a part-time degree program. However, only a few schools in the top 50 offer this option.
However, you will still be a lawyer regardless of where you attend school. The rankings are just one opinion. Full-time enrollment at Harvard or Yale is your only option if you are convinced.
Consideration #4: Internship experience
Summers are open to law students for internships. This is one of the most important aspects in a full-time academic year at law school. Public interest organizations and law firms have come to expect legal intern applications during this period. These interns are provided invaluable opportunities for networking and practical training. Many internships lead to full-time jobs, according to a 2015 survey.
These internship opportunities may not be available to part-time law students who work full-time and do not have the summer off. You may be able to choose to take your time to earn your law degree.
Consideration #5 – Admissions requirements
The admission criteria is a major consideration when comparing full-time and part-time law school programs. Although each school is different, full-time law programs have stricter requirements. Your undergraduate GPA and LSAT may be more important to admissions committee reviewers.
While part-time law programs have the same requirements as full-time, less weight is given to your grades and test scores. Your professional achievements and professional life will be given equal or greater weight. If you don’t score as well in college or on the LSAT, you might consider building your resume and applying for a part-time program.
Consideration #6: The social life
It is not easy to have a social life while in law school. There are many social events that you can enjoy and numerous opportunities to network with your peers. Even if you don’t plan on making friends or attending tailgates, building relationships with peers can have educational benefits. Law school is full of study groups. You can get advice from professors, upperclassmen and TAs to help you succeed.
Part-time students in law are often parents, military personnel and employees. Although these students can still form study groups together, their time is often limited. A full-time program might be better if you feel you would benefit from studying with other students and social activities. Part-time law school is for those who are comfortable working alone and have a strong social life.
Consideration #7: Motivations to attend law school
Many students who are considering a part time law degree don’t see the possibility of becoming a criminal defense attorney or personal injury lawyer. The degree serves as an addition to their professional credentials.
A law degree could help an employee reach the top in their field of work, whether it is in academia, business, or in medicine. This is why full-time immersion in law school might not be necessary. Employees may wish to improve their job skills while they attend law school on the weekends or at night.
If the employee is willing to remain with the company, an employer may be able to pay part or all of the tuition. If you are employed full-time and would be able to benefit from a law degree, talk to your employer about financial options.
Consideration #8 – Extracurricular activities
Finally, if your job requires you to work part-time and you need to go to law school, it is likely that you don’t have time for the extracurricular activities employers enjoy to see. Potential employers often value law review, moot courts, trial team participation, and law journals.
These activities can be a great way to be noticed by potential employers and law firms, but they are also very time-consuming. These activities can take a lot of time away from full-time students and parents, as well as working lawyers. A full-time program can be the best option if you feel these activities are necessary to improve your career prospects.