Careers Career Paths An Overview of Part-Time Law Programs How long does part-time law school take? Share PINTEREST Email Print Tetra Images / Brand X Pictures / Getty Images Career Paths Legal Careers Technology Careers Sports Careers Sales Project Management Professional Writer Music Careers Media US Military Careers Government Careers Finance Careers Fiction Writing Careers Entertainment Careers Criminology Careers Book Publishing Aviation Animal Careers Advertising Learn More By Sally Kane Sally Kane Sally A. Kane, JD. is an attorney, editor, and writer who has two decades of experience in the legal services industry and has published hundreds of career-related articles. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 10/13/19 Attending law school full-time isn't always an option for students who are balancing the demands of career, family, and other responsibilities. Fortunately, many law schools offer part-time law programs. Full-time students complete a law degree in three academic years, while part-time students generally complete a law degree in eight semesters or four academic years. Students admitted to a law school's part-time program can usually transfer to the full-time program if they choose. Advantages of Part-Time Law Programs Evening classes: Most part-time law programs are offered in the evening, allowing students to maintain full-time employment during the day. Evening programs make law school possible for many students with employment and family obligations that would otherwise prevent them from attending.Reduced course load: Part-time law programs allow students to carry fewer credits and take fewer classes, but part-timers should still expect to spend 30 to 40 hours per week pursuing their law degree in addition to their employment and other responsibilities.Lower admissions criteria: The LSAT scores and GPAs of students in part-time programs are excluded from the U.S. News & World Report’s law school rankings calculus, making it possible for schools to lower admissions criteria for part-timers. Part-time admissions programs place greater weight on students’ professional experience and accomplishments.Reduced financial burden: Part-time law programs are usually completed in four academic years instead of three, so students can spread the financial burden out over a greater period of time. And working during law school can help offset the costs of a legal education and allow students to take out fewer loans. Perhaps one of the greatest advantages to attending part-time is that you at least have the option to work while you're studying. The American Bar Association doesn't allow full-time students to work more than 20 hours a week, and some schools have their own even stricter rules that prohibit full-time students from working at all. Disadvantages of Part-Time Law Programs Tremendous time commitment: Even part-time law school is an enormous time commitment. First-year students are typically assigned three hours of homework per classroom hour and may be required to read from 300 to 450 pages a week in addition to class time. Law review, extracurricular activities, and on-campus interviews also place demands on a law student’s time. The demands of law school combined with the demands of family or a job leave little time for other activities. Less prestige: Some employers might view these programs as less prestigious because of their relaxed admissions criteria. Attending a part-time law school program can limit one's post-graduate employment options in some cases. Higher cost: Most part-time law programs require an extra year in school, so while you might pay less per year, the cost of a part-time law school education overall can be greater than the cost of a three-year program. Part-timers might also find that they're ineligible for academic scholarships. Missed opportunities: Part-time students can miss out on opportunities that are afforded to full-time students, such as externships, clinics, moot court, on-campus interviews, journals, and student organizations. In addition, part-timers who work full time might not be able to perform summer clerkships, which is the most common path to big-firm employment. Your school/study workload should be about four credit hours lighter per semester if you attend part time. Weigh this against your schedule and your reasons for not attending full time.