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Part-Time Law School

Evil_ReaverEvil_Reaver Registered User regular
edited November 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
I graduated in 2005 with a BA in history but I haven't gone in to the field and I have no intention of doing so either. 3 years later, I work for a university that offers tuition assistance for full-time employees to the tune of 75% off educational fees (credit hours) for up to 6 hours per semester. After looking over the various graduate and professional degrees the university offers, talking it over with my wife and family, and looking at the finances, I have decided that I would like to go to law school.

The law program at the university has a part-time "flex" program that allows students who work full-time (not just at the university, but in general) to attend school part-time and extends the program from the traditional 3 years to a 5 year ordeal. Ideally I would want to attend full-time, but my wife and I can't take out another $30-40K in loans on top of the loans we already owe for her masters degree.

My questions, directed to anyone who is currently in law school or has a JD, are as follows:

1. Even though I would be a part-time student, I still have to carry a 9 credit hour course load for 10 consecutive semesters excluding any summer classes I take. I held a 25-30 hour per week job while taking a full load during my undergrad, but obviously law school is going to be much more difficult academically. I guess what I need to ask is: am I setting myself up for failure by trying to balance law school on top of a full-time job that I have to keep in order to get the tuition assistance? Would you even consider going to law school on a part-time basis?

2. I haven't taken the LSAT. December registration has long since passed, so the last available time to take the test is in February, giving me a little over 2 months to prepare. Obviously I would like to do the best I can, but my goal is to score at least in the 158-161 range. Any advice or tips for studying for this exam?

I bought the Kaplan 2009 LSAT guide today and I am working out a study schedule. Even though I have been out of school for a few years, I have kept my brain in shape by studying for and taking various IT certification tests, all of which necessitated buying really thick study books and taking practice tests. I also bought a tip guide for writing the personal essay that goes along with the program application.

3. Of course, none of this matters if my supervisor at work doesn't go along with the plan. The law school doesn't have night classes, so I would have to miss 9 hours of work every week in order to go to class. I can make it up by adjusting my schedule so that I work 40 hours every week, but it would obviously have to be approved, so that's the biggest "no go" factor right there. Any advice on negotiating that sort of deal with a supervisor? My mother-in-law says I should get accepted to the program first so I can use that as leverage (I agree).

TLDR:

I want to go to law school but can only do so part-time while I hold down a full-time job.

- Would you do it?
- Any advice for the LSAT?

XBL: Agitated Wombat | 3DS: 2363-7048-2527
Evil_Reaver on

Posts

  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    Going to school part time while working full time is difficult, but it can be done. Keep in mind that most schools recommend 2 hours of study time for every hour of class time.

    Also, in my school (and i'm sure others as well), there are students who go to school part-time, but don't work at all. As grades are on a curve, this can kinda screw the students who work.

    I originally applied to evening school figuring that by working I could avoid debt, but so many other students recommended switching that I ended up doing so right before classes started.

    As far as prepping for the LSAT, there's nothing you can really do besides practice. Take a practice test. See where your weaknesses are. Practice those types of exercises. Repeat.

    oldsak on
  • coldbird.coldbird. Registered User
    edited November 2008
    Not a direct answer to your question, but you can study under a lawyer/judge in CA in lieu of law school.

    coldbird. on
  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited November 2008
    As a "0L" student looking at law schools myself, I understand some of your concerns but cant really help you with what to expect within class. Heres what I've figured out:

    1. Balancing law school with a job can be hard--as I'm looking at a full-time courseload I've pretty much all but written off getting any sort of real job. That being said, part-time programs generally are in place to allow for something like active employment/family life so I wouldn't be surprised if many people would be in a similar situation. Would have more time to study without your job? Undoubtedly yes. But that is not a possibility for everyone, and clearly getting this tuition assistance sounds like a good thing. I wouldn't say no to such an arrangement myself, but at the same time there are many full-time scholarship possibilities to explore.

    2. Prepping for the LSAT means different things for different people, but most have found a good course of action is to take many previously administered tests. These can be bought online in books of 10 (older, but cheaper) and in single tests (more up to date--buy these and make sure these are the last you prep on before the test). Also, your university might offer some free preptests. I found out mine did after spending way too much on these things.

    You already have a goal, so I would advise you take a few preptests, see how you score, find where your weaknesses are, and build from there (either through section-specific workbooks, or more focused work on sections/problems you struggle with). Timing these tests and running them all the way through are key in dealing with pacing and mental fatigue--the two primary problems of the test itself, IMO.

    That being said, each test will take over 2 hours if run from start to finish, so finding a good block of time can be tricky. I started my prepwork about 4 months before my test, but only got really serious about 2 months prior--in the time leading up to the real thing I generally would run one preptest a day on weekdays, and tried to administer it when I would be taking the test itself (early AM). That being said, my prepwork bordered on overkill--the good thing about such an approach is that you will generally settle into a scoring range of a couple points and barring disaster thats what you should get on the real test too.

    3. I dont know how to deal with #3. The leverage idea sounds good. And if that fails, there is always the possibility of full-time enrollment as further possible leverage. But in this economy, its hard to walk away from any job.

    In the end, it all boils down to what you want to do with a JD--are you looking to litigate? Do you want to help non-profits? Do you want to make six figures working 80-hour weeks in a huge firm? Any way you look at it, getting a free (or mostly free) postgraduate education sounds pretty sweet. Just make sure you know what you are getting into (and what you want out of it) before you take the plunge--since I have committed to law school I have found a lot of unhappy law students and graduates, and I find that the better I know my goals the better I can avoid becoming one of these embittered, miserable husks of people that crawl around on sites like jdunderground.

    A Bear on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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