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   Part-Time vs. Full-Time Law School
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   Author  Topic: Part-Time vs. Full-Time Law School  (Read 6704 times)
TraleBlayzer
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Part-Time vs. Full-Time Law School
« on: Jun 20th, 2007, 10:21am »
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Hello everyone.
 
I've got an MS in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from an Ivy League school, and I've been working in the field for about 2 years.  I worked in the manufacturing field for most of that time, got bored, and now I've moved into Software Consulting.  I'm now very interested in going back to school for a degree in Law.
 
The dilemma is this...  continue working (good salary 75k) and go to school part time, or leave work and live on a shoe-string so that I can go full time.  There are ups and downs to both.
 
If I go part time, I keep getting paid, but I'll have to fit the school work in after my job.  This is bound to make good grades harder to acheive, raise my level of stress considerably, and make the whole experience take a year or two longer.  Also, the highest level schools do not offer part time programs.
 
If I were to choose the full time route, it'd mean no salary (or finding some small part-time job) and living like a grad student again.  However, I'd be able to dedicate my time to my studies, and maximize my performance.  The program would be shorter than part time, and I could apply to all the good places here in the North East.
 
I'm really at an impass on this one.  After spending 6 straight years in college previously, I'm not so willing to dive headlong back into being broke all the time, unless its definately the best thing to do.  Consider also the fact that Law School would likely result in ~$90k of student loans, or so I understand.
 
Suggestions?
 
Thanks everyone.
-Tom
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pentazole
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Re: Part-Time vs. Full-Time Law School
« Reply #1 on: Jun 20th, 2007, 1:25pm »
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If your intent is to practice intellectual property law, why don't you start out as an agent, make more than what you are making right now, work for a couple of years, and if you decide you like it, then go to lawschool part time and have your firm pay for it.  Your job won't really change from patent agent to patent attorney.
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guest1040
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Re: Part-Time vs. Full-Time Law School
« Reply #2 on: Jun 20th, 2007, 5:55pm »
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on Jun 20th, 2007, 1:25pm, pentazole wrote:
If your intent is to practice intellectual property law, why don't you start out as an agent, make more than what you are making right now, work for a couple of years, and if you decide you like it, then go to lawschool part time and have your firm pay for it.  Your job won't really change from patent agent to patent attorney.

 
Yea, good luck finding a job as a patent agent.  Those jobs are not easy to come by...
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lawyerbob
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Re: Part-Time vs. Full-Time Law School
« Reply #3 on: Jul 2nd, 2007, 4:41pm »
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I can't give you a complete answer but I can give you some insight.  I'd been working as a software engineer for 20 years when I went back to law school.  I have a family so I had no choice but to go part time.  I was able to go summers and finish in 3.5 years.  It was definitely hard because it's like working 2 full time jobs.  Starting out you'll spend about 3 hours outside of class for  every class hour.  I did well but wasn't in the top 10% of my class.  
 
If you can afford to focus on just school then I think that's a better way to go.  It also allows you to get a clerking job, hopefully with a firm that does IP work.
 
If you are considering a move into the legal department at your current employer you should ask about that now.  What I discovered is that even though I had significant experience with my company's products, the legal department wasn't willing to consider that experience.  They wanted me to come in as an entry level attorney at an entry level salary.  For now I'm still writing software and considering how to take advantage of my new legal knowledge.
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Drew83
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Re: Part-Time vs. Full-Time Law School
« Reply #4 on: Jul 3rd, 2007, 9:13am »
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I am also considering part time law school.  Many people do it because they have to (i.e. they have a family to support).  If you dont have to do part-time, it may be better to go full time for the reasons described above.
 
If you do chose to go part time, I would definitely try to get a job doing patent work.  That way, when you graduate, it'll make finding a job much easier given your experience.
 
You could also consider going part-time for the first year, take summer classes to catch up on the 8 or so credits you missed, and then transfer to full time for years 2 and 3.
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