For many prospective law students, the investment of both time and money necessary to attend law school is simply prohibitive. You may have the grades and test scores necessary to gain acceptance into great law schools, but if you have a family or other obligations that prevent you from being able to devote yourself full-time to law school, you might feel like such an opportunity is beyond your grasp.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to the traditional law school experience. Many law schools offer flexible part-time programs. These programs generally offer evening classes, which allow students to keep working, meet responsibilities or pursue other interests at the same time.
The top law schools
offering night classes tend to be concentrated in large urban areas, as many night law school students work day jobs in their local city. Many schools are happy to welcome students who can bring real-world experience into the classroom, and night classes are growing in popularity. Indiana University’s McKinney School of Law goes so far as to bill itself as “the school that never sleeps
Law schools often go out of their way to ensure that the unique needs of night students are accounted for. For example, American University’s Washington College of Law states on its website
, “The Registrar's Office and the Financial Aid Office remain open in the evening one night per week to accommodate part-time students.” Many other law schools offer similar extended hours across various aspects of school exclusively for night students.
Part-time law students also have the benefit of being able to complete their degree over an extended period of time. The University of Hawaii grants part-time students up to seven years
to finish their JD. This flexibility is rarely granted to full-time students, and it allows night students the freedom to adjust their course load each semester based on their availability.
Another benefit of part-time, evening law school programs is that they tend to be small programs, giving students the ability to build relationships with professors and classmates that might not be possible in larger programs. At Chicago-Kent College of Law’s evening program
, “entering class sizes have ranged from about 30 to 35 students, providing for a low student/faculty ratio and close interaction with faculty members.” Because networking and building relationships is such an integral part of a successful legal career, potential students should not discount the value of being part of a small, tight-knit program.
Keep in mind that when you are comparing part-time law programs, not every school offers a full evening curriculum. Some part-time programs, such as the one at St. John’s University School of Law
, offer primarily daytime courses. If you’re looking for a night-only law school program, be sure to read the fine print.
While studying law at night isn’t any easier than a full-time law school program–you’ll still need to take all of the same courses
as any other law student–a part-time law school program can help you balance the rest of your life while completing your law degree. If you’re considering attending law school but aren’t sure whether you can fit such a big commitment into your schedule, a part-time program just might be the right fit for you.