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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Innovative Part-Time Programs and U.S. News

PrawfsBlawg has had a number of interesting posts related to the U.S. News and World Report Rankings over the last few months -- from, among many, Adam Kolber's post on "part-time program 'gaming,'" to Jason Solomon's earlier posts on alternative rankings, to Jason Solomon's and David Fagundes' "Race to the Top Project." Yesterday, I received the USN&WR annual survey, which indicated that "[f]or the first time this year, U.S. News has added a question at the end of this survey asking [those responding to the survey] to nominate up to 15 top quality part-time J.D. programs." The goal is to "produce new rankings of part-time J.D. programs to be published in Spring 2009." More information is available at the Morse Code webpage.

Presumably, this change was spurred, at least in part, by concerns over possible announced changes in the ranking formulas that U.S. News uses, which would include LSAT and GPA numbers of part-time students. The general concern is that changing the formulas may place pressure on some schools to reduce the size of their part-time programs.

This announcement raised an issue -- what kind of part-time JD programs exist? I know that several schools have part-time evening programs. But what other innovative part-time programs are offered?

For example, Southwestern -- in addition to a part-time evening program -- has since 1981 had a part-time day program designed for students with child care (or elder care) responsibilities. The four-year program is designed to allow parents to attend law school, while their young children are also in school (law classes normally being scheduled in the morning). Some amazingly talented students have graduated from this program, who otherwise -- because of being a single parent, or having other significant family responsibilities -- would not be able to earn a JD. As law firms increasingly provide child-care solutions to recruit and retain the very best lawyers, it is somewhat surprising that more law schools have not been more accommodating.

I would be interested in hearing what other innovative part-time programs are offered -- or are being contemplated -- by law schools.

Posted by Austen Parrish on October 9, 2008 at 01:19 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink

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In New York, Fordham has a part-time evening program, and Cardozo has a bunch of flavors: part-time May entry (10 credits in the summer, fall, and spring; then full-time) and part-time September entry (10 credits in the fall, spring, and the following summer). They also have January entry and full-time May programs, neither of which I really understand. With the Cardozo programs, at the end of your first-year you become a full-time student.

Posted by: Josh S. | Oct 9, 2008 3:34:49 PM

The University of Nevada Las Vegas has a part-time law program geared towards working adults who would be unable to commit three years full-time for law school. i.e. with kids, jobs, mortgage, etc. I was in the full-time program and was 10-12 years older than most students, so when I took a few evening classes I really enjoyed having people there with the experience i had. For example, in a post-BAPCPA bankruptcy class we had a few mortgage brokers, a few CPA's, two bankers, multiple IT guys (such as myself), and generally people with actual applicable work experience. As compared to the full-time program students mostly whose hardest job was retail or waiting tables.

Posted by: William | Oct 9, 2008 6:18:39 PM

At Phoenix School of Law we have day and evening part-time programs, with flexibility among day full-time, day part-time, and evening part-time programs. Students may start in one program and shift to another as circumstances change. Many day students take some evening courses. Many electives are offered in the late afternoon or early evening so both day and evening students can take them.

As a librarian at PhoenixLaw, I have observed that the employers of evening students, after a year or two, sometimes allow the students more flexible work schedules. In particular this is true of law firms (a good number of our part-time students are paralegals or patent agents), but many other employers behave like this as well. Perhaps as they come to believe that the employee-student is really serious about this law school stuff, they start cooperating more.

Posted by: Ted McClure | Oct 9, 2008 7:17:59 PM

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