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Student Essentials

Why Part-Time Law School Still Makes Sense

Michael Lux

Why Part-Time Law School Still Makes Sense

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My dad loves to remind me how he paid for his education. He scrubbed toilets during college and worked as a punch card programmer to pay for law school. 

He is making a point about hard work, but all I can hear is how great things used to be.

Like my father before me, I attended law school part-time. Like my father before me, I worked full-time and went to school at night. Unlike my father, I have a ton of debt from law school.

As the price of education has skyrocketed, the effectiveness of working to pay your way through school has dropped considerably.

In theory, I could be Exhibit A on why part-time law school doesn’t make sense anymore.

Instead, I’d argue that it is still an excellent path with real merit.

The Life of a Part-Time Law Student

Monday through Friday are long days at the office. Evening classes are a battle to stay awake and focused. Weekends are the only chance to catch up on sleep and get some studying done. Friends, family, and relaxation are an afterthought.

Looking back, I wasn’t the best employee I could have been during those years. I also wasn’t the best student I could have been during those years.

Even with the benefit of hindsight, I wouldn’t change my decision to be an evening law student.

Part-Time Law School Benefits

Being successful in law school requires solid time management skills. Balancing law school classes with a full-time job requires a mastery of time management skills. It also requires a serious work ethic and determination.

I say this not to scare people out of working while going to school. It is a positive aspect of the challenge.

Employers want to hire people with strong work ethics and good time management skills. Successful graduates of evening law school programs have resumes that scream hard work. Inevitably, they will also have plenty of stories to share in an interview demonstrating these traits.

The other big advantage comes from the work experience and networking during this time. Law students working as paralegals or legal assistants may not make a ton of money, but they have the practical experience and connections that can make a huge difference in the job marketplace.

The Financial Implications of Evening Law Programs

Working full-time isn’t a route to avoiding student debt anymore. However, it is a route to reducing student loan borrowing.

Finding a job that covers living expenses is a reasonable goal and a great way to keep student loan borrowing manageable. For students attending school in high-cost-of-living areas, this work could easily mean reducing total loan borrowing by six figures.

Even though the perks of being an evening law student are not what they used to be, there is still value to being a part-time student—both personal and financial.