Any part time experiences?

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stoicjustice
Posts: 39
Joined: Sat Jul 25, 2009 3:33 pm

Any part time experiences?

Postby stoicjustice » Sun Feb 07, 2010 12:23 am

Anyone who graduated or is a current PT student who has any advice on how it compares to full time in terms of things like career prospects and working while in school? Really any advice would be appreciated.

Connelly
Posts: 164
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2007 2:10 pm

Re: Any part time experiences?

Postby Connelly » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:28 am

At the moment, I can think of 3 good reasons to go the PT route. There could easily be others, but these stick out the most to me.

1) To get into a school you couldn't get into the FT program for. Think Georgetown, Fordham, maybe some others.

If this is the case, your employment options should be wide open. You can spend the school year doing internships, working in law firms, working in a legal department, working as a patent agent (for the geeks out there), etc. Summers will still be your summers, so you should be at no disadvantage there, although you will be a year behind the students you start with (i.e. you probably won't get a class rank until you have completed 2 years of PT work). Also, if you're using PT as a back door into a program, it is likely that you would try to switch to FT so you can finish in 3 years. This would obviously nix any work during the school year and may provide difficulty obtain summer work both summers - not having a class rank at OCI could be a little troubling depending on the employer.

2) Because you have to.

You have dependents that need your income, and you can't/don't want to survive on loans. You will likely need to keep your main job throughout school, so your options will be much more limited. One suggestion I have heard is to quit your job the last summer, get some cash working as an SA at a firm your last summer, and then scrounge around for whatever you could get to make it through that last year. However, this suggestion came when law firms were actually hiring. :( This is generally the toughest situation. A reduced load at work would help. You could also look into volunteer opportunities on the weekend, but this is a tough path in general. Some people take leaves of absence to go work/volunteer/go on trips to Europe during the summer. Some have the vacation to cover this.

3) Because it makes financial sense.

Some people can afford to pay for law school as they go due to their incomes. This might not be bad compared to taking out loans to cover cost of living, tuition, etc. At the very least, working should prevent needing to take out loans for cost of living. This would also make sense if you're making really good money and desire to be making very little when you come out (such as if you are making $150k a year but deeply want to be a PD). So working can be seen as a way to prevent taking out as much in loans. Not the worst option in this economy. But then if you keep your day job, you're essentially dealing the problems faced by #2. If you're just working to cover cost of living for yourself, you might be able to take on a less demanding job and pick up legal work on the side.

Most people I know in my PT program that could go FT switched to FT after the first year. Even though there could be some advantages for people who can pick up more internships/externships/legal employment during the year while going PT, most people would much rather just finish school and not have to deal with the tighter schedule of a PT student who works during the day.

nouseforaname123
Posts: 336
Joined: Sun Feb 07, 2010 12:32 pm

Re: Any part time experiences?

Postby nouseforaname123 » Sun Feb 07, 2010 1:41 pm

Working full time, here is what I will say:

Decide what specific goal you are trying to accomplish by continuing to work. For me it was very simple. I refuse to take on any debt and working FT allows me to pay for school. If you are still going to be taking out a significant amount of debt while working, I don't know what purpose working full time serves from a financial aspect. The other reason I have continued to work is that my current career has a significant demand for legal work and I want to stay connected to the industry as long as possible.

Assuming you will be working full time and would like to be at the top of your class, here are some points from my experience.

*You must be disciplined. Working full time and attending class at night means you have two full time jobs. There is very little time to waste in your life. I'm going against my own advice here as I consider surfing the net at 11:45 on a Sunday morning and replying to a post as a waste of time.

*You have to take care of yourself in every facet of your life. I'm not encouraging you take up this schedule, but here is how I managed to succeed my first semester: Monday - Thursday: Wake up at 5:00 AM, exercise for an hour and fifteen minutes. At the office by 7:30, leave work between 5:00 and 5:15. On campus for class by 6:00 PM. I’m usually home between 9:00 and 9:30. Talk to my wife for about 15 minutes, study until midnight. Friday: Exercise in the morning, normal day at work, typically no law school stuff on Friday night and spend the evening with my wife and I am usually sleeping by around 11:00 PM. On Saturday, I sleep in to 6:00 AM, exercise and then hit the books from about 9:00 AM until about 9:00 PM with breaks to eat. On Sundays, I usually use the morning to take care of any odd things I need to take care of (mow the lawn) and I typically start studying around Noon and go to about 9:00 PM.

To put my body through this kind of stress and sleep deprivation, I’ve found the exercise is absolutely critical for having the energy to make it through the day. I skipped one workout my first semester and felt like garbage by about 7:00 PM and was unable to pay attention in class. Eating healthy is a must. I do not use caffeine or any kind of energy drink/products. Things like dentist appointments, physicals etc… are for winter and summer breaks. Before you freak out, this is the level of commitment I found was necessary for me to do well (estimated Top 10%, my school does not rank PT students until the end of the 2nd year, you only get estimatations based on the day students). There are students who don’t put in this kind of effort but they aren’t quite as happy with their grades either. I have become more efficient at studying between the first and second semester and have found more time to squeeze in extracurricular activities this semester from student groups to lunches at the local bar association etc…

*You have to become more efficient at your job. I used to work ~55 hours a week. I've learned how to do my job in 45 hours a week. In a lot of ways, this will increase the stress in your life, but you absolutely must compartmentalize your work to those X amount of hours you work and then not spend another second thinking about it. You’ll also learn how to efficiently use your vacation time. My company gives me 5 weeks of vacation a year. 3 of those weeks are taken around finals.

*Your personal relationships will help and will make it harder. I lean on my wife for a lot of things but I also have to devote time and attention to her needs. My wife has been incredibly supportive, but I also know that having me disappear for 4 months at a time has been hard on her. Our goal is to get to the position where she can stop working, and be a stay at home mom, so she buys into it. As you can imagine from the schedule I keep, she has taken over virtually all household duties. If you’re married or in a serious relationship, be absolutely sure that your significant other will be 100% supportive of what you are doing. A married gal in my program is absolutely stressed out b/c her husband has failed to pick up the slack around the house now that she can’t do as much.

*There are no shortcuts in law school. Although every class seems to have that genetic freak who can miss class, goof off on facebook during lectures and still end up in the Top 10%, odds are that you are not this person. Get over it. I liken it to my experience in boot camp with the Marine Corps. You can only do it one step at a time while maintaining the singular focus that every little step will eventually pay off. The moment you focus on the big picture, it becomes pretty daunting.

*Overall, working FT and doing a PT program is best summed up as “constant motion.” I don’t think that per credit hour I spend any more or less time studying than my counterparts in the day program, the big difference is that I don’t have time for some of the leisure activities that they take part in. Forget watching the Super Bowl, my wife gave up her season tickets to the symphony this year, I gave up my season tickets for college football.

*As far as legal experience, if there is summer employment to be had, my plan is quit work after the second year, bite the bullet with the pay cut and then scrounge for whatever work I can find during the school year.

*As far as job prospects beyond school, I have been told some employers are not interested in hiring out of a PT program. But you will also attend recruiting events and meet attorneys working for firms that graduated out of your own PT program. Obviously, those are the employers you will need to concentrate on.

Good luck.

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nealric
Posts: 2391
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 9:53 am

Re: Any part time experiences?

Postby nealric » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:31 pm

1) To get into a school you couldn't get into the FT program for. Think Georgetown, Fordham, maybe some others.

If this is the case, your employment options should be wide open. You can spend the school year doing internships, working in law firms, working in a legal department, working as a patent agent (for the geeks out there), etc. Summers will still be your summers, so you should be at no disadvantage there, although you will be a year behind the students you start with (i.e. you probably won't get a class rank until you have completed 2 years of PT work). Also, if you're using PT as a back door into a program, it is likely that you would try to switch to FT so you can finish in 3 years. This would obviously nix any work during the school year and may provide difficulty obtain summer work both summers - not having a class rank at OCI could be a little troubling depending on the employer.


I switched at Georgetown. Georgetown doesn't rank, so nobody has a class rank. There ARE honors cutoffs, which are weighed against your section. You can always just keep your job through first summer. For 2L OCI switchers are treated just like normal 2Ls.

RE my experiences in general: I'm glad I started PT. It was the equivalent of a scholarship in the amount of my first year wages- which means I'm in a lot less debt than some of my peers. It was a truly insane amount of work- I rarely got more than 5-6 hours of sleep. I was tempted to keep my job and not switch, but my grades put me at a good chance of a biglaw job (I ended up getting one), and the opportunity cost numbers didn't work out. In retrospect, I'm VERY glad I switched because I don't think I would have gotten a biglaw job if I had to do 2L OCI this last year.




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