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Part Time Law School: Pros and Cons

To go to law school full time or part time:that’s the question.

The answer, of course, is different for every student who’s studying the law, and it depends on myriad variables ranging from employment status to financial situation to goals.

To help you make up your mind, we’ve pulled together this list of the pros and cons of part-time law school programs.

You can reduce your debt load. The American Bar Association allows part-time law school students to work as much as they want to (full-time students are only allowed to work 20 hours a week). This means that if you already have a full-time job, you can keep it and put your earning toward tuition (or paying as you go), which can significantly reduce the amount of student loans you need to take out. And all law students know that student loans for law school aren’t the best friends you can have.

You can keep your job. Don’t discount this benefit of attending law school part time. Keeping your job (especially if it’s in an industry that relates to the law) allows you to bring real-world perspective to the legal theories you’ll study, make contacts with the companies and lawyers, and even begin to get involved with some legal work. 3M, the Fortune 500 company in Minnesota, actually encourages a lot of its engineers to attend law school part time and get involved in researching and submitting patents.

You may have more time to study. If you don’t have a full-time job, attending law school part time can give you more time to study. You’ll take fewer credits each semester so you can spend more time poring over textbooks, cases and court documents. You can maximize this benefit by hiring a law tutor, who can help you focus your studying.

It takes longer. Because you’ll be spending an extra year or so in law school, you’ll have to wait an extra year or so to get your first job (and paycheck) in the profession.

You may have less time to study. If you work full time and attend law school part time, you’ll be pressed for time. One way to get around this part-time law school con is by hiring a law tutor, obviously.

There’s a bit of a stigma attached to it. Some view those who’ve attended law school part time as not as accomplished as those who go full time – until they find out that former Chief Justice of the United States Warren Burger went to law school part time!

The choice is yours, and while going to law school full time is definitely the norm, part-time law school just might be the best option for you.


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