Reasons to Go to Law School, #13-14

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.

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17 Responses to “Reasons to Go to Law School, #13-14”

  1. the right stuff Says:

    The school I went to had a part-time program. Many of the students eventually switched over to the full-time program because many of the classes they wanted to take as 2Ls and 3Ls were in the daytime.

  2. Will Says:

    I went to a law school for a year before I realized I could do better selling insurance, so I quit. Now my co-workers call me Counsellor because of my legal training. I am not as knowledgeable as someone who took 3 years and the bar, but I have a line on getting the best looking broads who need insurance.

  3. evrenseven Says:

    I have to say I must have been really lucky. I worked in law throughout law school, so I only took out federal loans. My total debt is a very manageable number.

    I have to say though, going 4 years instead of 3 is going to be more expensive- because law schools increase their tuition every year. There was a dramatic change between my first and second years, something like 12% increase. Those that were going into their fourth, part time year would have spent significantly more on those last 12 units than did their three year counterparts that finished a year before.

  4. Kasal Says:

    Do NOT, I repeat DO NOT go to law school. Even if you pass the bar exam after forking over a boat load of blood, sweat and tears cash to greedy law schools, it is unlikely that you will graduate at the top of the class to get hired on the much mythological and coveted corporate attorney salaried position. Bar examiners are political whores and can keep you out of the game based on age, “who you pissed of in the past” or other reasons by simply not awarding you points on the written section of the exam given on the first day.

  5. bl1y Says:

    I passed a bar exam while hungover the whole time. It’s not that hard.

  6. JP Says:

    I majored in chemical engineering in undergrad. About junior year, I learned what chemical plants were all about.

    Having no actual interest in engineering (I only was in the major because I would lose my scholarship if I left), and wanting to use my lungs later in life, I realized that law school was a much better idea.

    So, my two reasons to go to law school are:

    1) You don’t have to work in a chemical plant and rot out your lungs.

    2) You may have an opportunity to work with various high-tech materials and classified military technology.

  7. JP Says:

    And law school wasn’t “a lot of work”. You don’t have to attent class and you just have to take one test at the end of every semester.

    It was actually much more pleasant and much less painful than my undergad experience.

    If, on a scale of one to ten, my interest in engineering was at a “1″ (second only to majoring in English, which would be at a “0″), law school was at least a 2.5. The subject matter, however, was mostly dull and very uninteresting, which is why I give it a 2.5.

  8. JP Says:

    Uh, Kasel, you don’t go to a law school where you have to graduate in the “top of the class” to get a $160,000 job.

    You DO need to go to a T3 school these days until the economy improves.

    Then a T14 might work, too, like it did for me in 2000.

    I was somewhere in the bottom half given that I was completely burnt out when I started law school anc could have cared less about life. Got lots of callback interviews. If I had had a degree in EE, I would have been hired on the spot for s summer position in one of them (on an on-campus interview).

  9. bl1y Says:


    1. Not working with dangerous chemicals is a reason to work any job but chemical engineering, not law specifically. It’s as much reason to be a lawyer as it is to be a WalMart greeter.

    2. Laws will never work with classified military technology. On the other hand, my brother is a mathematician and when the TSA opens his briefcase, they have to first call the FBI.

  10. JP Says:

    On #2 you are quite wrong.

    Patent attorneys work with classified military technology.

    Corporations that create the tech need patent attorneys to draft and prosecute the applications. Now, I specifically AVOIDED getting a security clearance, but that was only because I wanted to avoid the unpleasntries of drafting applications in a particular tightly secured place.

    However, I did draft (non-secret) military (aviation) patent applications and had applications that I drafted subsequenty classifed and removed from my workload.

    Remember, companies compete internationally and need protection against other military tech outfits in foreign countries.

  11. bl1y Says:

    Filing a patent is not working with the technology. It’s filing the technology’s paperwork. You’d have a more involved role as a personal assistant.

  12. JP Says:

    Actually, a better response is that you don’t need to be an attorney to prosecute patent applications.

    You just need to pass the patent bar, administered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

    So, not only is it not a reason to go to law school, but you don’t NEED to go to law school to do it.

    All you need is enough science and technology college credits.

    You would be suprised at how much inventing patent attorneys do.

    Most “inventions” are incremental increases to existing technology.

  13. JP Says:

    What are you trying to do these days, anyway?

    Hasn’t the legal market recovered enough so that you could BigLaw in NYC again or something?

  14. bl1y Says:

    It’s incredibly difficult to get a job in big law outside of the normal channel, ie: OCI or lateral from another big law job.

  15. Will Says:

    It is not easy to get a job in big law. That is why I took off. Chicks don’t dig lawyers as much as I thought originally, so don’t stick around just to get chicks. It doesn’t work.

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