Are you interested in going to law school part-time? Read on to find out more about what part-time law school is, its pros and cons, and the best part-time law schools in the nation.
While many students opt to complete law school full-time in order to begin practicing law as soon as possible, many law schools also offer part-time law programs for those requiring more flexibility and time to complete their degree.
If you’re considering part-time law school but are unsure of what to expect or which law school to attend, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about part-time law school to decide whether or not it’s the right choice for you.
Part-time law programs allow students to complete their legal education even if they have other time commitments that make it difficult to undertake a degree full-time.
Students who are working full-time, have health or physical disabilities, have family obligations, or have financial hardships typically opt for part-time school over full-time.
While full-time law programs typically take three years to complete, part-time students usually take four years to complete their JD. Most part-time law programs require students to meet the same graduation requirements as full-time students, but their courses are more spread out, which is why the degree takes longer to complete.
Now that you have a better understanding of what part-time law school is, it’s essential to go over the key benefits and drawbacks of going to law school part-time.
Let’s begin with the pros of pursuing your legal education part-time!
As part-time law school takes four years to complete instead of three, students have more flexibility with their course schedules.
Programs offer both day and evening classes and weekend classes. Some even offer online part-time law school. This allows students to create the perfect schedule to balance all of their time commitments.
If you’re pursuing part-time law school while working full-time, you may not need to take out such heavy student loans and will likely graduate with less debt. Your legal education’s cost will also be spread out over four years rather than three, reducing the financial burden of getting your JD.
While not all law schools offer part-time programs, many do. These tend to be online part-time law programs, while some are hybrid and others are fully in-person. These diverse methods of providing part-time legal education allow students to pick the best schools and programs for their needs.
While most part-time law programs have the same admission requirements as full-time law students, some have more lenient admissions criteria.
Some part-time law schools are more forgiving with GPAs and LSAT scores. They place greater emphasis on students’ resumes and work experience since many part-time students are professionals who have already spent time in the workforce.
However, you’ll still want to make sure you have a solid law school application. Although some schools are more lenient, law school is still very competitive, so do your best to make your application error-free.
Many part-time classes are smaller than regular full-time classes, allowing students to easily network, develop useful connections, and interact with faculty.
While attending law school part-time has major benefits, it also has drawbacks you should consider.
Despite students opting for part-time law school for a reduced course load, it still takes up any free time these students have. As most part-timers also work full-time, they already dedicate 40 hours a week to their job and generally have to dedicate another 30-40 hours per week to part-time law school.
For students juggling multiple obligations, their packed schedules can lead to burnout or low grades.
Since part-time students usually have full schedules, they don't always have time to participate in the important extracurriculars that full-time students do. Extracurriculars such as journals, clinics, moot courts, externships, or student organizations are important parts of the law school experience, yet many part-time students miss out on them.
As part-time law school typically extends into the summer, these students are also unable to pursue summer clerkships, which provide essential experience to help students secure jobs post-graduation.
While many schools offer part-time programs, the majority of top-ranking schools do not, which can have an impact on your employment prospects. Many employers view these programs as less impressive due to their lower rankings and lesser time commitments.
It’s been argued that full-time and part-time students are graded to the same standards, which creates unfair competition. While full-time students generally only have one obligation (law school), part-time students have multiple, giving them less time to study and ultimately decreasing their chances of obtaining high marks.
Considering the listed con of many part-time law schools having lower prestige, it’s essential you know the highest-ranking part-time law schools.
GW Law applicants can choose a full-time or part-time law program, both of which have the same academic requirements and standards.
Fordham has an evening part-time program for JD students and even holds special networking events for part-time students so they don’t miss out on important opportunities.
George Mason offers a part-time FLEX online hybrid option where students can earn their degree while attending campus for as little as two nights per week.
Temple offers both a daytime and nighttime part-time law program to accommodate students’ varying time commitments.
UH allows JD applicants to pursue an evening part-time program and is allegedly sought out by employers due to UH students’ ability to balance all of their obligations while completing a rigorous curriculum.
The University of Denver offers a part-time law program for working professionals.
The William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada offers both day and night part-time programs for students pursuing a JD.
Loyola’s part-time evening JD program is geared towards professionals and mixes instruction with experiential learning to give students the best legal education.
Students can complete Marquette’s part-time option in as many as six years.
Georgia State allows students to take classes in either the day, the evening, or a combination of both in their part-time law program.
As previously mentioned, not every school offers part-time law programs. But this shouldn’t discourage you from pursuing part-time law school because there are still numerous great options for you:
With over 70 ABA-approved law schools with part-time programs, you still have plenty of options to choose from!
If you’re still wondering how you can go to law school part-time while still working full-time, here are some tips to make it easier for you.
In the chaos of studying and working at the same time, it can be easy to overlook your health. But remember, the healthier you are, the less stressed you’ll feel. You’ll find it much easier to tackle all the items in your schedule if you’re also taking care of yourself.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet, and be sure to get plenty of good sleep. Remember to also stay active and keep a regular exercise regimen. Doing all these things will keep your brain and body functioning at full capacity.
It’s also important to pay attention to your mental and emotional health. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone about any struggles you may have, whether a trusted friend or a professional counselor. Take time to engage in hobbies that bring you joy, and spend time practicing mindfulness.
Learning how to attend part-time law school well means creating a solid plan. To balance all your commitments, you should not deviate from your schedule. Establishing routines and building good study habits will go a long way.
It might be helpful to use a calendar tool or agenda to organize your weekly commitments. Make sure you know when all your school deadlines are and put them into your calendar. Book off time for studying, working, and taking breaks.
It’s also a good idea to overlap tasks with your free time if you can. For example, you could do readings for school on your commute or work on assignments during your lunch breaks.
You should maintain open and honest communication with your employer about your academic pursuits. There may be study policies in place to help you adjust your work schedule so that you can better manage your time. It’s worth having a conversation with your superiors about how they can support you.
If you aren’t overwhelmed by all your commitments, you’ll likely perform better at work. So, your employer will probably want to help you figure out a balance that works well for both you and them.
Remember to keep up important relationships with family and friends, even in the midst of a hectic schedule. Humans are social creatures, so having people to support you during such a busy time is very important. Don’t let yourself become so overwhelmed by your commitments that you neglect the people you care about.
It’s also a good idea to make friends with people in your classes and get to know your professors - having a sense of community at law school can help you manage the burden. You can study together and help keep each other motivated.
In case you have any remaining concerns, here are the answers to frequently asked questions about part-time law school.
It’s a good idea if you have other time commitments that prevent you from attending law school full-time! Applicants graduate with the same JD as full-time students and are equally qualified to practice law.
However, it can be challenging since part-time law school will likely take up all free time and make it difficult to participate in extracurriculars.
It generally takes four years, or eight semesters, to complete part-time law school. Some schools offer accelerated programs that take three and a half or three years to complete, but these programs include summer terms.
Georgetown University is ranked as the number one part-time law school in the nation.
There is some existing stigma surrounding these schools that mainly comes from the fact that most high-ranking schools don’t offer part-time law programs. However, part-time JD grads are still able to find jobs, and part-time law school can actually boost your resume!
No, they both involve the same academic requirements and curriculums. Some even argue part-time law school is more difficult because these students have many commitments to maintain, and some have been out of school for many years.
Yes. Many schools no longer require the LSAT for admission, and some schools that do may be more lenient with lower LSAT scores for part-time applicants.
Depending on what your needs and interests are, part-time law school may be the right fit for you! If you have family, financial, or other time-consuming obligations, you can still obtain a JD and advance your legal career without making any major sacrifices – a win-win scenario