preLaw - Winter 2011 - 35
school. Brianne Myers, 26, worked full-time in the admissions office at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich., while studying at the school for three years and eight months for her J.D. But she wasn’t granted any extra favors in the office. “They were very understanding, but they didn’t treat me any differently,” Myers said. “I used my vacation time — a couple half-days off — when I needed extra time to study for exams.” As might be expected, students tend to choose part-time law to cut back on indebtedness. But even though you take fewer courses each quarter or semester, remember that you still pay for the same number of credit hours as day-time students do. You just pay the bill over a longer time period. Still, when you work full-time, you generally don’t need to pay living expenses with a loan. “I think a lot more students should consider part-time school than actually
do,” said John Lynch, associate dean at the University of Baltimore Law School. “If you work and maybe live at home, you can greatly reduce the amount of your debt.” Part-timers estimated their loans to be about 25 to 50 percent less than if they had gone full-time. Some schools offer scholarships to outstanding applicants. Some part-timers get reimbursed for expenses by employers, but in the current down economy, help from the boss may be harder to find. Patrick O’Brien, 26, studying at John Marshall Law School in Chicago, chose the part-time route to a J.D. largely for financial reasons. He hopes to graduate in May and take the bar in July. “I had a lot of student loans from my undergraduate degree, so I wanted to minimize loans for law school,” he said. He’s living with his parents temporarily to cut costs, and he’s clerking at a law firm full-time. “My office has been very good at arranging things for me.” Aside from the short-run economic
savings, some might wonder whether it’s smart in the long run to keep working during law school. After all, how do you keep up your GPA and polish the resume for your new future legal career while working 30 to 40 hours a week? You could also miss out on opportunities to network and connect with future employers. On the other hand, Fred Cheever at University of Denver thinks part-time students/full-time workers can make excellent use in future legal careers out of what they’re doing now to foot the bill. Their jobs can be a significant advantage when they break into the law. “Many students think that any work they did before finishing law school doesn’t matter,” Cheever said. “But the truth is that your work can help your career after law school. Dropping out of your field for three years to go to law school doesn’t always make sense.” Vid Mohan-Ram has that kind of story to tell. He already had a career in biotechnology before entering John Marshall as a
ARE YOU CONSIDERING PART-TIME J.D. OPTIONS?
To accommodate the diverse needs of our students – from recent undergraduates to working professionals with families – Southwestern offers four J.D. programs that differ in instructional approach and scheduling – daytime or evening; full-time or part-time; two, three or four years. In addition to 2- and 3-year full-time J.D. programs, Southwestern offers: 4-YEAR PART-TIME EVENING PROGRAM
Accommodates students who must maintain a full work schedule while earning their law degree.
4-YEAR PART-TIME DAY PROGRAM - PLEAS
One of the few part-time day programs in the country designed for law students with child care or elder care responsibilities.
Visit www.swlaw.edu/academics to learn more about Southwestern’s student-centered J.D. programs.
SOUTHWESTERN LAW SCHOOL
LOS ANGELES, CA
Admissions: (213) 738-6717
Southwestern is fully approved by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools.