preLaw - Spring 2017 - 15
Law schools are combining weekend classes with online education to
offer programs that cater to working professionals.
By Tyler roBerTs
Monica Ayala Delgado once thought
attending law school would be unmanageable. She is a risk analyst for a bank in
Chicago, so the financial markets dictate
her schedule. Monday through Friday,
she is at her desk before 8:30 a.m. and
sometimes cannot pull away until long
after the closing bell.
But then Loyola University Chicago
School of Law launched a part-time
Professionals, stay-at-home parents
and public servants are the main candidates for part-time programs. But long
work hours and responsibilities at home
can get in the way of attending traditional evening classes.
To reach these prospective students,
some law schools are turning to weekend
J.D. programs, blending class lectures and
technology-driven tutorials to provide a
more accommodating academic schedule.
" Without the weekend program
at Loyola, law school would not be an
option," Ayala Delgado said.
Loyola University Chicago's weekend program uses an American Bar
Association-approved hybrid academic
structure. Two-thirds of course hours are
spent in the classroom, with students
traveling to campus every other weekend.
In between, students receive instruction
through online learning modules, engage
with other students and faculty in online
discussion boards, and take self-directed
assessments and quizzes.
Hybrid weekend programs are the
future of legal education, said Michael
Kaufman, interim dean of Loyola
Chicago. Students don't want to give up
their full-time jobs, and sometimes they
aren't sure if they want to become lawyers
or just use their J.D.s to advance their
"It's the future because it's a flexible
scheduling model," Kaufman said.
Similar weekend programs are being
LoyoLa University ChiCago's weekend J.D. program, held at the Philip h.
Corboy Law Center, offers classes on alternate saturdays and sundays.
developed by other law schools.
This fall, Seton Hall University School
of Law will roll out a part-time weekend program. Weekend programs are
currently in place at Western Michigan
University Cooley Law School and
Mitchell Hamline School of Law.
"We realized that if we moved to a
weekend J.D. program, it would open
up law school to a whole group of people
who would not otherwise see it as an
option," said Cara Foerst, Seton Hall's
associate dean for academics.
Loyola Chicago has had a part-time
law program for 100 years, but Kaufman
said enrollment had dropped dramatically
during the last eight years.
In the new weekend program's first
year, Loyola Chicago is seeing more
enrollment from outside the Chicago
area. Students fly in from New Orleans,
Texas and North Carolina. Tuition
includes housing, and the law school
rents dormitory rooms in a nearby residence hall and hotel rooms.
The school has found that the weekend students are older, more established
and more conservative than their fulltime J.D. counterparts.
Nadia Sawicki, a professor at Loyola
Chicago, taught torts during the first
semester of the weekend program. The
part-time students benefited from the
hybrid class structure, she said.
"Students are able to learn the black
letter law using the online, self-directed
assessments," she said. "Then when they
come to class, they are able to apply the
basic rules they have learned."
Ayala Delgado said online classes allow
for a deeper dive into the coursework.
"The subjects come alive when you are