Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Law School Evening Divisions

Courtesy of Blawg Review. Bill Arazia talks about the challenges facing schools regarding the evening division.
But modern legal education (and modern life more generally) has posed some major challenges for evening programs. Clinical and externship opportunities -- which are becoming more and more important to students -- are harder to come by, since most law offices operate on a standard workday. Law review and moot court activity often happens during the day. Some faculty resist teaching in the evening, for personal schedule reasons (though, thankfully, some faculty actually prefer teaching in the evening). It's harder to create the same broad curriculum I can create for the day students (although this is mitigated by the availability of adjuncts to teach in the evening). And as far as the students are concerned, the changing nature of the workplace (nobody gets out at 5:00 anymore) and increasingly horrific traffic make it harder for working students to get to campus in time for class, let alone take advantage of the academic atmosphere (office hours, talking to classmates in the quad, going to hear a speaker) that day students take for granted and from which professors often expect their students to learn.
i attended and evening program and faced a number of difficulties, including loss of time with my family. Similarly, I did not have the option of spending time as a summer associate, since if I took such a position, I would have had to spend much of the summer not only working hard as a summer, but also working hard to find a job after the summer, because mortgage companies don't care if you are trying to better yourself or start a new career--they want their payment.

Part of what must happen is that law firms and other employers need to realize that evening students have a desire to partake in many of the co-curricular and extra-curricular programs and to summer somewhere, but cannot afford to lose their current job, which unless you work for an exceedingly generous employer during the school year is likely to be the case.

One suggestion would be to consider some part-time, evening summer work, even at a reduced salary. Evening students are used to long hours--and indeed upon graduation are more capable of the traditional "extended" workday that most first year associates encounter, and would not shy away from an opportunity to "summer" part time.

Just a suggestion to help evening students get some of the experience that employers want to see, without damaging their ability to provide for themselves or their family.

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