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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Part-Time Programs Go Under the Bus

The National Law Journal website law.com is reporting the decline of enrollment in part-time law programs. (http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202541306229&slreturn=1) Apparently, part-time programs have been on the chopping block for a few years, as the article indicates that several schools have shut down part-time programs. Losing part-time programs is a travesty for the future of the legal community. I currently teach in both a full-time day program and a part-time evening program and my evening students demonstrate an incredible level of engagement, commitment, ability to reason and apply concepts quickly, and a maturity that is distinct from some students who are fresh out of college. I have many friends and relatives who are excelling in the field after graduating from part-time evening programs, none who were sponsored by their employers for tuition. I did not attend the AALS panel on the decline of enrollment in evening programs, but if anyone did attend that panel, or presented, are there any solutions in the offering?

Posted by DBorman on February 14, 2012 at 01:44 PM | Permalink


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I was surprised to read in the article about lower standards for part-time programs and part-time students not doing as well. I attended part-time at DePaul and most of my professors shared the view expressed in this post -- that teaching evening students was preferable because we generally worked harder and were more committed, as most of us were paying for it ourselves. We also had more life experience to bring to the discussions. Finally, most of us worked in other professions and had specific reasons for wanting to change and become lawyers, so I often felt more of us were sure we wanted to be in law school than were the day students. Perhaps this experience varies depending on the school. I'm probably biased as an alum, but my sense was DePaul focused on selling its part-time program to hardworking professionals who want to change careers versus to students who somehow didn't measure up.

Posted by: Lisa M. Lilly | Feb 15, 2012 10:42:36 AM

I don't know if everyne agrees it has always been a good thing. There had grown to be too many part time programs with too many participants, with too low standards for admission. It was US News that created the growth for a time by exempting their credentials from the rankings, and creating a substandard group of graduates of an institution. As the numbers of part timers go down, their credentials will be more commensurate with the full tme programs, which is a good thing.

Posted by: James | Feb 14, 2012 9:16:10 PM

What does it say about legal academia that schools throw even a cash-cow program that everyone agrees is A Good Thing under the bus when its participants bring down the school's US News ranking a smidgen?

Apparently prestige > money > duties/professionalism/common sense

Posted by: Guest | Feb 14, 2012 8:53:41 PM

Leaders of the profession talk about wanting to increase diversity and open the profession to all groups. How better to achieve diversity than to include hard-working evening students who are paying their own tuition out of their own paychecks? I have taught a course in a part-time evening program and loved it. The decline of part-time programs is a bow to snobbery and another blow to the legal profession brought to us by U.S. News.

Posted by: Mary Campbell Gallagher, J.D., Ph.D. | Feb 14, 2012 5:56:17 PM

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