The part-time and evening students at WCL are an extraordinary bunch. Every year the U.S. News publishes its annual ranking of law schools and of law school programs. The numbers change. What remains constant is the qualities of students in the part time program and the high level of instruction they receive. Though I have been the associate dean for the part time and evening program for less than a year, I have been very impressed with the commitment students, faculty, and staff have shown in this difficult year to ensuring that though this year is different it is not lesser.
The thing that most impresses me about students in the part time program is their ability to juggle multiple demands. Taking only slightly fewer credits per semester than students in the full time program, part time students typically are doing law school on top of a regular job as well as other commitments. Perhaps I should not be surprised. After all, so many part time students come to WCL with a track record of career success, a body of work that suggests that they are up to the challenge. But I also do not want to diminish the effort. Law school, even without a full time job on top of everything else, can be difficult. So I want to celebrate those people—the students—who are the heart and soul of the part time program.
It is also worth noting the dedication of the faculty, including our tremendous group of adjunct professors, who teach evening classes and who make the part time program possible. Speaking personally, I am so grateful that so many of the best professors at the school choose to teach at night. Though at other schools, teaching at night is often done on a rotational basis, WCL’s evening classes tend to be filled with professors who want to teach then. Such a choice finds its reward in the diversity of backgrounds and experiences that are found in each class of part time students. Learning is a collective activity, a work shared by everyone at WCL regardless of where they sit (or stand) in the classroom.
The part time program at WCL offers the full range of experiences, in terms of courses, clinics, externships, and student clubs, available in the day program. And it does so in the nation’s capital. Going forward, we will continue to grow, taking lessons from the pandemic’s forced move to online instruction while also working to maximize the value of our DC location. No institution is perfect and there is space for improvement in every program, but the education and opportunities available through the part time program are unique and I thank everyone of their engagement, energy, and commitment.
Professor of Law and Associate Dean for the Part-Time and Evening Division
American University Washington College of Law