Time once again to play Two Good Reason to Go to Law School. The rules are simple. You need two reasons, and they need to be good.
I have a friend who is attending law school part-time, while working full-time for a defense contractor. It will take 4 years to get through the program, but as I understand, it is cheaper/per year, plus there are less lost opportunity costs. This seems like it could be an actual reason to attend, if you can handle it. Also, what if you can get a scholarship, or even your employer to pay for the part-time program? I don’t know if either of these are possible, but what would you say to a part-time law program, while working full time, on a full tuition scholarship?
Thought of this while drunkenly passing out after the Super Bowl,
Ben’s friend attends Georgetown University Law Center,
US News #20, $25522.50/yr, $1630.00/cr
There’s no logic like drunk logic.
1. Part Time Programs are Cheaper
In terms of tuition, they’re not any cheaper. At Georgetown, the price per credit hour for part time students gives you the same price as full time students over all. You’re just spreading out the tuition over four years instead of three. Also, if you want to go over the minimum number of hours, you’re out an extra $1630 per hour. Full time students can go a few hours over the minimum with no penalty.
But, as you point out, a lot of the cost is opportunity cost. Part time programs allow you to work while in school, drastically cutting down the price of attendance.
Trouble is that for most students, law school takes up more time than a full time job. You’re in class 13-15 hours a week, sometimes with more than 5 hours in a single day. Then there’s all the time you spend reading for class, going to study groups, research and writing projects, studying for exams, and the actual exams themselves. And travel to get to class.
By doing a part time program over 4 years, you’re only decreasing your yearly workload by 25%. That decrease will not offset the 40 hours a week you’re working. So, long story short, you might not spend as much money during those four years (you’ll probably actually put some in the bank), but the level of hell that law school is will be so much more.
Law school is, for many people, the last chance to dick around and have some fun before starting the indentured servitude that will last until their death. Spending that time working for a defense contractor is insane.
Also, employers tend to not be fans of part time students, having a full time will cut you off from the normal hiring channels (summer jobs), and firms will doubt your commitment to legal practice, and they know it’s harder to squeeze 80 hours a week out of someone who isn’t committed.
There’s one final, really killer problem with this reason. Regular readers may have already guessed it, but it applies to your second (albeit hypothetical) reason as well, so I’ll wait.
2. You Could Also Get a Scholarship
Okay, so the idea here is that with a job and a scholarship, the costs of law school are more or less nothing. No tuition, no opportunity costs, and no racking up debt on living expenses. But, there are always other costs. Let’s call them blood, sweat, and tears. Sweat not just from the work you have to put in, but the stink you’ll smell from the guy next to you in Contracts who spends so much time studying that he doesn’t find time to shower. And, as a part time student, you’re going to have a lot of foreign classmates, so the chance of a foul smell is much greater. And tears, of course, from the smell. And blood, after you slit your wrists.
Seriously though, law school is still a lot of work, and you have to consider the cost in time, stress, frustration, and terror, not only the monetary costs.
But more importantly, these are not reasons to go. Reducing the costs simply lowers the threshold of how good you reasons need to be. A $100,000 expense requires really good reasons, while a $1000 expense doesn’t need quite so much.
Imagine I offered to pay your entry fee and travel expenses for you to travel to Greece and run in the Spartathlon. Your expenses are zero! Well, the fact that it will cost you nothing is not a reason to run a 153 mile race. You still need an independent reason to run it.
You could want to go for the glory of having completed one of he most daunting feats mankind has dreamed up. And then we could debate the merits of that reason. It’s really impressive, but no one even knows what a Spartathlon is, so there’s less glory that you may think…
Law school needs real reasons to go, and lower hurdles getting in are not reasons.