Part Time 1st year time commitment

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rdcws000
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Part Time 1st year time commitment

Postby rdcws000 » Tue May 04, 2010 2:09 pm

Hello everyone,

I'm looking for a part time student's feedback on the first year of law school.

I'm admitted to the PT program at South Texas College of Law and I'm trying to get a realistic idea of time commitment spent reading and studying during the first year of classes. I'm 80% sure I'm going, but before I get into it I want to make sure I can do it. I am not concerned about stress or hard work (though I know I'll have some of both), I am just trying to make sure that there are enough hours in the day for me to succeed.

I am about midway through a career with a large corporation. Quitting or downgrading is not an option because I am supporting a family, so I cannot sacrifice work for school, I need to make them both work. Luckily right now the time commitment on work is not too demanding. I am settled into an 8am to 5pm work day, and I usually have an opportunity to take an hour lunch.

So if I am planning my time out for the first year it looks like this:

M - class from 6-9:30 I can find about 2 hours during the day to read/study/write
T - class from 6-9:30 I can find about 2 hours during the day to read/study/write
W -class from 6-9:30 I can find about 2 hours during the day to read/study/write
Th - class form 6-9:30 I can find about 2 hours during the day to read/study/write
F - no class, maybe about 2 hours of reading

Sat - 8 hours to read/study/write
Sun - 6-8 hours to read/study/write

In addition I have 4 weeks of vacation per year which means I can place those during finals study weeks etc. to take some pressure off. It would be nice if I could keep one of those weeks for a family vacation (wife and 2 kids).

My wife is very supportive and currently stays home with the kids.

Anyway, I'm interested in any feedback from part time students on your schedule your first year while going to school, and whether I am thinking realistically about it.

edit: HAHA I said I get to take a 5 hour lunch.... that was a typo. I meant an Hour lunch. fixed now.
Last edited by rdcws000 on Tue May 04, 2010 2:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

thwalls
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Re: Part Time 1st year time commitment

Postby thwalls » Tue May 04, 2010 2:13 pm

I'm in the same boat as well. I'm married but no kids just yet. My wife is supportive of my decision to do this and I've been wondering about how to balance the course load and finding time to study. I'd love to hear from some other people who've recently been through the experience.

Connelly
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Re: Part Time 1st year time commitment

Postby Connelly » Tue May 04, 2010 4:47 pm

Four nights a week is rough, but it can certainly be accomplished. There are different ways to do it, but I prefer to focus my efforts on one or two days over the weekend. During the week, you will probably be doing everything you can just to get by. It is helpful to review the readings right before class, but most of your work can be done in a solid day on the weekend.

Your legal writing course will of course require much more of your time. Your first year will feel like hazing, but it does get easier after that without having to deal with first year legal writing. Plenty of people make this situation work (work + school + family).

It will be most useful to use your vacation as planned. Just take one or maybe two days off per exam (you'll have weekend days a lot of the time as well). If you keep up with your work during the semester, you can easily get by with a couple of days of preparation for each exam.

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OperaSoprano
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Re: Part Time 1st year time commitment

Postby OperaSoprano » Tue May 04, 2010 5:27 pm

It can be done, but I have to tell you that you'll have to sacrifice some of the law school experience to do it. I was working full time when I applied to Fordham, in the evening program. I now have a part time legal internship, which allows me to participate in on campus activities, clubs, and events. It also frees up more time to study. You will be at a disadvantage relative to those of your classmates who work fewer hours, or don't work at all, but your work ethic will make up for a large portion of that. You may need to take time off when your long memo and brief are due, however. This is the only time during the non run-up to finals that two hours a night would have been a disaster for me. I staggered my own studying, from a modest amount at the beginning of the semester to round the clock by the end.

I do have to tell you that I saw countless classmates quit their jobs, and this was not a negative reflection on them by any means. There are people who can do it, and do it very, very well. I would not have been one of them, hence my more modest employment commitment. I wish you the very best, and your plan sounds like the beginning of a successful endeavor.

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rdcws000
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Re: Part Time 1st year time commitment

Postby rdcws000 » Tue May 04, 2010 6:02 pm

awesome feedback, thank you both very much.

I'm trying to prepare my wife with a worst case scenario of the hours I'll be away from the house, so we won't be in for any major shock. If I tell her I need 8 hours on Saturday and 6 on Sunday, and I end up not needing the 6 hours on Sunday we can celebrate!

I completely understand people quitting their jobs and don't fault them for it. I appreciate the confirmation that as tough as it is, the (work-family-school) is doable. Do-able is all I need!


Thanks alot all of you.

If anyone else has any tricks or schedules they used, chime in.

Michael Scarn
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Re: Part Time 1st year time commitment

Postby Michael Scarn » Wed May 05, 2010 9:53 am

It's definitely manageable, the biggest thing is learning how to be efficient with your time. I spent a lot more time doing school work on weekends last semester than I did this semester, I'd say twice as much. Once you get through one semester, and more importantly one set of exams, you see what was worth your time and what wasn't. The biggest thing for me was learning how to be the most efficient with my time, and finding places where I could get an hour or two of work done during the week to have more time on the weekends. You'd be surprised how much you can get done in an hour for lunch or an hour between work and class.

Most of the rest of the advice I can give is stuff that I've seen on this site relative to full-time students too, like start outlining early, don't fall behind on your work, etc. As for taking time off during exams, I took a week off for exams last semester. I thought it helped, but not tremendously and I decided that I'd rather keep the week of vacation time for something more enjoyable. This semester I'm taking one day off between Tuesday/Thursday exams to prep for the Thursday exam.

kopper
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Re: Part Time 1st year time commitment

Postby kopper » Wed May 05, 2010 10:29 am

I am also planning on attending a part time program in the fall while maintaining my full-time position and providing for a family. I like the scheduled you outlined and had envisioned a similar weekly commitment in my mind. I expect during exams the time commitment may need to increase however if you can maintain that level of intensity from the beginning to the end you will be in good standing.

I expected there were others like me out there and good to see your post on TLS. Here's to four years of hard work and dedication (aka no life outside of family, law school and career). I'm excited!

okayplayersmu
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Re: Part Time 1st year time commitment

Postby okayplayersmu » Thu May 06, 2010 12:26 pm

I just finished up a four year part-time (night) law program while working full-time. The good news is that if you just want to get a J.D.--and don't care about grades--it is shockingly easy to do. While I assume that is not the motivation for most of you--it wasn't for me--then I can say that it does take a huge commitment, and more importantly, support from your spouse (if you have one). I am extremely lucky in the spouse department, especially during the first few years, but the schedule does start to wear you down over the last 2 to 3 semesters.

During the work week, I fit in studying by arriving at work an hour to and hour and a half before the start of the workday to read for the night's classes while trying to fit in additional study time during lunch and the break before the start of classes. I did some class prep on the weekends during the first month, but as I got closer to finals I found it imperative to focus on outlines. I'm sort of an idiot in that I insisted on making my own (as opposed to tracking down old ones) and I rarely used commercial study outlines. I also used at least 75% of my vacation for finals. Now, I didn't have kids during the first three years (just had my first last semester), so my commitments on the family front were limited compared to a few of my colleagues.

If you have any specific questions about part-time life, let me know. I am a big proponent of part-time programs and those that choose to undertake such a venture.

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RUQRU
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Re: Part Time 1st year time commitment

Postby RUQRU » Sat May 08, 2010 7:28 pm

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Last edited by RUQRU on Fri Feb 25, 2011 7:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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nahgems
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Re: Part Time 1st year time commitment

Postby nahgems » Tue May 11, 2010 4:45 pm

I just finished 1L with a schedule similar to yours (class 4 nights a week, although it was 6:30 - 9:10). I have a moderately demanding job in research/programming. My commute to work is about an hour and a half (30 minute walk to the train, 35 minute train wait, 15 minute wait for shuttle, 10 minute shuttle). I can read on the train and while waiting for the shuttle (100 minutes a day), but not while walking or on the shuttle.

My day looks something like this:
5:40: Wake Up. Let dogs. Out. Shower. Breakfast. Pack lunch.
6:30 - 8:00: Commute to Work. Read.
8:00 - 4:30: Work. Read during Lunch.
4:30 - 6:00: Commute to class from work. Read.
6:00 - 6:30: Dinner/Read.
6:30 - 9:10: Class
9:10 - 9:25: Commute Home.
9:26: CRASH.

There really is no free time in my schedule. There is no "30 minutes to watch Hulu". There is no "my brain is scrambled and I want to read for fun". On Friday my schedule looks the same except I replace "class" with "study group". On Saturday, I get a head start on the reading for the week. Sunday I take for myself. Usually this means a lot of sleep and a visit to the dog park.

I'm a successful 1L. But you should notice that there isn't time in my schedule for my husband (many nights I don't even see him). There is not time for kids (we don't have them). There is not time for laundry (I have clean underwear only because my husband is wonderful). My car registration was expired for four months, and I didn't have time to go to the DMV (for some reason I couldn't do it online). I don't go grocery shopping. I don't have time to buy new socks when my dog eats them. I don't often go out for drinks after class with the other part-time students who don't have full-time jobs. I don't go to the gym. I don't meet with friends. I volunteered a lot before law school. I don't volunteer now.

Is going to law school PT while working full-time possible? Yeah. Is it fun? Not unless you really like sleep depravation, case briefs, and making your spouse very lonely...

tesoro
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Re: Part Time 1st year time commitment

Postby tesoro » Tue May 11, 2010 5:11 pm

I'm probably the <5% of part-time law students who's going to be (starting) in his early 20's and working a full-time job. No spouse to speak of. I imagine that disappointing your spouse and making him or her lonely sucks, but imagine going through it alone. Heh it's kind of intimidating.

I think the work will find a way to get itself done one way or another. Thankfully, in case of failure, the worst case scenario isn't so bad (either quit job or leave law school, both of which are shitty but feasible exit opportunities).

My biggest fear is not having enough time to be social (i'm an extremely social person). My plan is to live with a few full-time students and have it sort of thrust upon me, like it or not.

Any other young, single, FT workers and PT 0Ls here?

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ruleser
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Re: Part Time 1st year time commitment

Postby ruleser » Tue May 11, 2010 5:17 pm

I recently attended an ASD at Loyola LA and talked to some part-timers there - contrary to what I expected, they were very pro-PT. They didn't seem to think the load was that horrible, and they had all seemed to line up law-related internships which they left their jobs for after year 2 - which they believed would lead to jobs. They said potential employers recruited them and were more interested than day students because of their work backgrounds.

I would expect that sort of course as well if I attended - fire up to have 2 all-out years working FT while going PT, then ideally leave the job after year 2 to start something in the legal field during the day while finishing up at night. I will say, without that I would be a bit leary about job prospects, since you won't have summer ops, etc - but that this sounds to me like a nice plus of PT - you can do FT law-related stuff after year 2.

Having said that, there is still a stigma about 4 year progs in the legal world, though some say you don't have to list that you were in one. And I don't know the level of jobs attained (one was gov't related) And of course, that means you'd be racking up debt if you don't have paid legal work for your last 2 years anyway.

The biggest plus I'd imagine, on top of avoiding the debt specifically if you just work all four years, is freedom upon graduation to do or not do what you wish, rather than being a slave to debt. The biggest downside seems to be lesser job ops/lesser intern/extern/summer ops if you keep your job all four years, and lesser prestige.

In the end, its maybe short term costs vs. long-term. Tiredness? I picture having to do Big Law for 5-10 years to pay off debt - that often sounds as gruelling as FT work/PT law, so why not get it done upfront and be free after? But do you really want to get a lesser prep/prestige for the career that will be the rest of your life? The long-term math may be against PT... or not.

Also, how much you make is important - especially if single, making enough to be able to pay someone to clean your home, do your laundry, assist as needed I think is almost required.

Connelly
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Re: Part Time 1st year time commitment

Postby Connelly » Tue May 11, 2010 6:04 pm

ruleser wrote: they had all seemed to line up law-related internships which they left their jobs for after year 2 - which they believed would lead to jobs.


Do you remember any specifics about who they were working for and what they were doing? I have just finished my second year of PT work and am trying to find a similar gig.

Thanks for the feedback overall. We could almost use a PT forum.

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ruleser
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Re: Part Time 1st year time commitment

Postby ruleser » Tue May 11, 2010 7:25 pm

Connelly wrote:
ruleser wrote: they had all seemed to line up law-related internships which they left their jobs for after year 2 - which they believed would lead to jobs.


Do you remember any specifics about who they were working for and what they were doing? I have just finished my second year of PT work and am trying to find a similar gig.

Thanks for the feedback overall. We could almost use a PT forum.

One said they had a federal job, so not sure which, but no, don't recall which the other said they were with. It was interesting, Loyola's PTers had better emp stats not only than the FTers, but than most schools I've seen - for 2009, 62 of 65 were employed I think at grad, and I believe the stats in terms of legal field, etc were very solid. And it sounded very much like employers were looking for them, not like they'd had to do a ton of legwork - unlike the FTers I'd spoken to.




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