Flexible Law Degree Offerings Are Attracting Working Professionals

Non-traditional Students Are Seeking Blended Learning Options to Earn Their J.D.

A growing number of non-traditional students seeking a law degree are discovering new opportunities to pursue a Juris Doctor (J.D.) through the expansion of distance learning and flexible scheduling options approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). One such offering is the Executive J.D. Schedule at Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law in Montgomery, Alabama. Faulkner Law’s Executive J.D. Schedule provides part-time students with the same curriculum and services as students in their traditional, Full-time J.D. Schedule, only delivered through blended online and in-person courses spread out over a four-year time commitment. In its second year, the Executive J.D. Schedule has welcomed primarily non-traditional, working professionals with an average incoming age of 35.

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“For over 70 years, Jones School of Law was a part-time, evening J.D. program,” says Faulkner Law Dean Charles B. Campbell. “This new age of distance learning and online technologies allows us to refocus on this same commitment to offering a legal degree to those students who require the flexibility of schedule to accommodate their professional and personal lives.”

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The blended learning delivery of the Executive J.D. Schedule is ideally suited to students within a three-to-four hour driving radius from the campus that is conducive to fulfilling the in-person learning obligations scheduled two weekends a month excluding the summer. The part-time schedule appeals to working professionals who may have previously thought about becoming a lawyer but could not afford to forgo employment to do so, including current student Preston Roberts, a government relations professional residing in Montgomery.

“The list of obligations that come with being a husband, father, and full-time employee are already long. Add on law school and things can get overwhelming quickly,” says Roberts. “Taking a ‘full stop’ on my career would have been detrimental to my family and would have diminished the efforts I’ve made over the past decade to build my career.”

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“If I have spare time during the workday, I can start a video lecture online and can even pause and resume where I left off later that evening after I put the kids to bed,” shares Roberts. “And connecting with my classmates during the in-person sessions significantly increases my level of engagement in the law school experience.”

Without this opportunity, Roberts states he would not have been able to pursue his law degree without leaving his career and interrupting his family life. While he acknowledges that law school requires a substantial commitment, he also believes the rewarding outcome will validate the pursuit.

“You must be committed to succeed. But the challenges and difficulty are what makes the pursuit valuable in the end. It is worth the price if you have the passion and desire.”

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