kalvano wrote:It's hard to say without knowing geographic location, but you'll be looking at not a lot more money for criminal law work than you probably make teaching plus a lot more irregular hours (think 2:30am jail runs to get some drunk out of holding), not to mention 4 years (PT) of essentially working 7:30am until around 9:00pm. As a single parent, you'll be starting over at age 40 in a job with worse hours, less time off, and not a huge increase in pay. That's going to be really rough.
First, I totally agree with the warning about PT programs, I think they really only make sense for people with specific, high-pay jobs waiting for them when they graduate. Part-time students have a hard time getting the practical experience that is necessary to get a public interest job these days, because they don't do full-time internships over the summer. You'll be competing against other law students who've had two summers (or more, with full-time externships) of legal experience to put on their resume. For a job in criminal defense, that's huge. Also, you're still looking at a major debt load since your day job probably isn't enough to keep up with tuition. How much less debt are you really looking at?
However, I'd have to disagree that criminal law jobs are necessarily more intense than teaching. Lots of teachers work more than 40 hour weeks while classes are in session. They get better vacation, but for most younger teachers, that is more than balanced by all the ridiculous professional development you have to do. Also, there are criminal defense jobs with crazy hours, but I know lots of public defenders and some prosecutors who've worked in medium and small cities who keep around 40 hours more often than not.