Can You Go To Law School Part Time? (Pros, Cons and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published March 8, 2021

If you are interested in becoming a lawyer, you may be considering your law school options. Many schools now offer full and part-time programs, which means you could earn a law degree while working or managing other responsibilities. Understanding the advantages and challenges of being a part-time law student can help you decide if it's the right path for you. In this article, we explore the pros and cons of attending law school part time and provide tips to help you succeed.

Can you go to law school part time?

Many law schools now offer part-time programs for students. Part-time students can take night or weekend classes and earn their law degree on a schedule that works for them. Many students attend law school part-time while working during the day or taking care of their family members.

Pros for attending law school part time

Here are some advantages of attending law school part time:

New career opportunities

Attending law school part time may help professionals reach their career goals. Most states require lawyers to earn a law degree before they can earn their law license. If you want to become a lawyer but have other obligations, part time law school could be a great way for you to earn your law degree on your own schedule, helping you reach your career goals.

Read more: FAQ: How Do I Know If I Want to Be a Lawyer?

More time for additional commitments

Part-time law students often have more flexibility in their class schedules and more time to spend on other obligations. Students may be able to keep their full time jobs and attend classes at night or on the weekends. They also may have more time to spend with their families or to pursue other interests such as hobbies or volunteering.

More financial options

Part-time students may have lower tuition costs each semester compared to their full-time peers. Law students pay for each class they take and need to earn a certain number of credits to graduate. Full-time students take three to four courses each semester, while part-time students typically average two courses per semester. Over time, both types of students pay the same amount in tuition, but part-time students have less due each semester.

Another financial benefit of part time law school is that students have more opportunities to work. They can hold full-time or part-time jobs which can help cover tuition costs.

Develop new skills

Going to law school while working takes hard work and careful planning. To succeed, part-time students rely on organization and determination skills. Many employers value these skills and ask questions during an interview to learn more about a candidate's work ethic. Part-time law student graduates often have many examples of times they worked hard. They can use these during an interview to show employers their skills.

Networking opportunities

Law school can help students build professional networks. Students can meet professors, potential employers and similar-minded peers at networking events or career workshops. Many law schools have these events between the day and night classes to encourage both full-time and part-time students to attend.

More time to research and apply for jobs

During their last semester, part-time students may have more time to explore open positions and develop their resumes. Depending on their other commitments, they may have more flexibility to attend interviews.

Read more: 10 Tips for Writing Your Lawyer Resume

Cons for attending law school part time

Although there are many benefits of attending law school part time, there are some disadvantages to consider. Learning more about the potential drawbacks could help you decide whether a part-time law program is right for you. Consider the following cons:

Longer time commitment

Earning a law degree requires a certain number of credits, whether you attend part time or full time. Part-time students take fewer credits each semester, which means it will take longer to graduate. Full-time law students typically earn their degree in three years, and part-time students take four or more years. This could be a drawback if someone has a set timeline for beginning their career.

Balancing responsibilities can be challenging

Part-time law students often have many responsibilities, and it can be challenging to balance them all. Many part-time students attend night or weekend classes while working full-time jobs during the days. They have to plan their homework, classes and studying around their other commitments, which takes careful planning and hard work.

Some opportunities are only available to full-time students

Although part-time students have many networking and career-building opportunities, some opportunities are only available for full-time students. Some programs offer academic scholarships for full-time students, and some clubs or organizations require full-time enrollment. Many programs are building new opportunities for part-time students, so it's important to consider your individual school and what they offer.

Events are sometimes during working hours

Some networking events, career-building workshops or office hours occur during the day when part-time students are working. Many programs create additional events for evening or weekend times, but part-time students may miss some opportunities.

Fewer internship opportunities

Many law students hold a full-time internship during the summers. This opportunity is a great way to gain professional experience and some internships lead to full-time positions after graduating. If a part-time student is attending law school while working full-time, it can be difficult to hold a summer internship. There may be part-time internships available depending on your program and location.

Tips for excelling as a part-time law student

If you decide part-time law school is right for you, consider these tips to help you succeed:

Communicate with your employer and family

Before starting your law program, let your employer, family and friends know you are starting a new commitment. Collaborate with your family or spouse to create a schedule that works for you. You can also let your employer know you may be in classes on certain nights or on weekends so they know when they can contact you.

Consider taking a prep course to help you prepare

There are optional prep classes available online or through schools to help you prepare for law school. Some courses discuss study strategies and provide tips on how to balance your schedule. Others cover law terms and help you prepare for the course content. These courses can help you feel ready for your first semester.

Create a schedule

Creating a daily and weekly schedule can help you manage your multiple responsibilities as a part-time student. Consider taking time at the beginning of the semester to place all of your important dates into your calendar. This can help you schedule exams and plan time to study each week.

Read more: The Complete Guide To Scheduling Your Day

Meet your professors

Consider introducing yourself to your professors at the beginning of the semester. They can answer questions about the course content and help you succeed.

Get to know your peers

Your law school peers can be great resources. They can help you study or answer questions about the course content. Consider attending social events when possible to make these connections.

Go to events when possible

Consider attending networking and career-building events when they fit in your schedule. These events can help you build your professional network and develop skills to further your career.

Take time for yourself

As you manage school, work, family and friends, try to leave some time for yourself. Consider scheduling time to exercise, relax and complete hobbies to increase your wellbeing and reduce your stress.

Try to be persistent and patient

Part-time law school takes a lot of hard work and time. Try to stay positive by focusing on your career goals. As other responsibilities change, you may need to alter your law school schedule. It may take more time than you initially planned, but you can earn your degree at a pace that works well for you.

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