Adam Page 12/18/12 12/18/12 11:08:00 AM
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Adam Page juggles duties as a construction contract administrator at HDR Architecture with those of a law student. – Photo by Michael Tran
By Dennis Friend
Time Management Key for Law Student
The Daily Record
Adam Page is 36 years old and works for an architectural firm, but the married father of a two-year-old son also has another goal.
He’s going to law school part time.
“I’m taking the next step in my career development,” Page said. He has always wanted to go to law school, but “I wanted to go to work first. I wanted to make sure I had some experience.”
Like many other schools, the Creighton University School of Law accepts some part-time students, but enrollment in the part-time program is limited to perhaps six to 10 students each year. These students can take up to six years to complete the course of study. Part-time students attend classes with full-time students and most classes are offered during the day between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Page said he understands why Creighton allows only a few part-time law students.
“Law school traditionally is not meant to be part time,” Page said. While “Creighton makes it workable,” drawbacks to attending on a part-time basis include what Page characterized as “debates in the corridors.”
“You’re missing out on interaction with your peers, meeting and talking with classmates, reviewing topics,” Page said.
Nevertheless, the part-time program allows Page to fulfill his goal. He sees a law degree as extremely useful in the architectural and building trades.
“I work for an architectural firm and do contracts for them,” Page said, and he sees an opportunity in dispute resolution.
“It’s pretty fertile ground for a good lawyer,” he said.
Marianne Culhane, Creighton Law School dean and professor of law, said the part-time program works well and the upside is obvious.
“A part-time student can continue to work about half time while in law school, so he or she need not give up a good job and can pay for a substantial part of the tuition cost rather than take out lots of loans. And sometimes, the employer may pick up part of the tuition bill,” Culhane said.
Associate Dean Craig Dallon said the part-time program draws students who already are involved in other careers “and it works well. Some of these folks are accountants, working in human resources or involved in other careers. They bring their life perspectives to the classroom,” Dallon said.
The law school part-timers may be non-traditional students, Culhane said, and may not be certain if a career in law is for them.
“If a student is not sure that law school is what he or she wants or is concerned that he or she may not be able to handle the work, the cost of just trying it out for a semester is less for part time rather than full time,” Culhane said.
In addition, “It is easier for a single mom or dad to work out a child care schedule that will allow part-time attendance than it is for full-time. A person who works nights may be able to handle a few daytime classes even if a full-time day schedule would not be feasible.”
Dallon points to another practical aspect: According to American Bar Association rules, a law student taking more than 12 hours a semester cannot work full time, but “typically, we have part-time students take eight or nine hours, and of course they are able to work full time, but technically anyone taking 12 or fewer hours can.” There are drawbacks to pursuing a law degree on a part-time basis. “Part-time students take four to six years to complete the JD, while full-time students can finish in three years. There is very little scholarship aid available to part-time students. Part-time students do not get a class rank, a disadvantage with some employers,” Culhane said.
The part-time program has been in effect since 1985.
“Our part-time students are in the same classes as our full-time students. The part-timers just take fewer hours each semester. That’s a lot different than in some night programs. Our part-time students meet all the other students and faculty. That doesn’t happen in part-time law programs that are taught only at night,” Culhane said.
Creighton part-time students take eight credit hours their first academic year, including classes on contracts, torts and legal research and writing. The second year, they complete the first-year curriculum with courses that include civil procedure and constitutional law.
Part-time students must then register for eight or nine hours of course work each semester to reach the graduation requirement of 94 hours in six years. A variety of courses are also offered each summer to enable part-time students to move through the program more quickly.
“It works great,” Page said. “There are obvious sacrifices, but it’s worth it.”
In addition, going back to school after a few years in the work force has paid off for him in other ways.
“I’m able to manage my time better. My business experience helped me manage that,” Page said.
To be eligible for admission, an applicant must hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university and is required to take the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT. The application process goes through the Law School Admission Council, www.lsac.org. Applicants must register for and provide transcripts and other information to the LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service and must complete and submit the Creighton Law School application, personal statement and resume through the LSAC’s application service. Two letters of recommendation are also required.