The School that Never Sleeps: Celebrating the Evening Division
Most superheroes face the challenge of balancing dual identities. For example, millionaire Bruce Wayne moonlighted as Batman. Similarly, over the years, our evening division students have spent their daylight hours as doctors, nurses, reporters, teachers, and businesspeople, only to be transformed into Law Students at dusk. The superpowers required to maintain a “normal” personal and professional life while pursuing a legal education are remarkable, and for generations, our evening division students have managed to do just that. These individuals are, indeed, superheroes. Not only do they sacrifice family time for four years to obtain a law degree, but following graduation, many have gone on to positions of great responsibility and influence. The drive that helped them to accomplish the combined tasks of work, study, and family life as students, served them well in their subsequent careers. Graduates of our part-time division have gone on to serve as company presidents, state Supreme Court Justices, judges of lower courts, state senators and representatives, and partners in law firms. There are those who have held high postions in the federal government such as U.S. Ambassador, U.S. Senator, and U.S. Congressman—one even became a United States Vice President. We salute these individuals, who, much like Abraham Lincoln, burned the midnight oil in pursuit of a legal education.
Were it not for the IU School of Law – Indianapolis and its part-time course of legal study, many of these individuals would not have had the opportunity to attend law school. Many were supporting families and needed to work—not having the luxury of quitting their jobs to pursue their educations on a full-time basis. In a time when changes in national law school ranking methodologies have had the effect of discouraging the continuation of part-time law school programs, we proudly stand behind our program and the fact that we have been able to offer a legal education to, literally, thousands of individuals who otherwise might not have had that opportunity.
One of the features of our part-time program that makes it stand out from many at other law schools is that it is the school’s policy that all full-time faculty members teach in the evening division. Our evening division students receive the same core first-year courses, taught by the same faculty, as our day division students. Evening students also benefit from courses taught by adjunct professors who are prominent attorneys in their fields of practice. In fact, it is quite common for our day students to take some elective courses in the evening if those courses have not been filled by evening students. Evening classes meet Monday through Friday, starting at either 5:30 p.m. or 6:00 p.m., and ending at approximately 8:30 p.m.
Current 4L student, Lora Manion, works as a Legal Assistant and Contract Administrator at United Water Suez in Indianapolis. Recently, she talked about her law school experience, “Balancing a full-time job in a legal department while attending evening classes nearly every weekday has been more challenging than I expected. I earned my MBA through a part-time program 10 years ago, and I mistakenly thought that it wouldn’t be too hard for me to earn a law degree in the evening—but I underestimated the time commitment and the effect of being older now. It takes careful time management to complete all my homework and maintain a healthy relationship with my husband, friends and family. To maintain a healthy balance, I’ve learned that I have to put tasks like ‘walk 8,000 steps, drink 6 glasses of water’ on my To Do List along with, ‘read 15 pages of Evidence and make 10 flashcards.’”
But she feels that the sacrifices are worth it. “I think the sacrifices that I am making now will pay off when I graduate in May 2010. Along the way, I have learned some important (and sometimes painful) lessons about taking care of my health, family and faith first, while carefully managing my work and school assignments. These are valuable life lessons that I feel sure that I will be able to draw upon in my future legal career.”
Veterans of the part-time program share some of her sentiments. These individuals, and many others, have pointed out that without the evening division of the law school, the dream of becoming an attorney could never have become a reality for them. Our hats are off to our current part-time students and the many graduates of the evening division who maintained the delicate balance between their personal lives and their lives as Law Students.