Skip to main content

Research Repository

See what's under the surface

After dark and out in the cold: Part-time law students and the myth of 'equivalency'

Francis, Andrew; McDonald, Iain


Andrew Francis


This paper presents the findings of the first major research study of part-time law students. It argues that many face multiple disadvantages, largely unrecognized by universities, whose emphasis on the formal equivalency of part-time and full-time law degrees ignores the distinctive backgrounds and needs of part-time students. As a result, many are marginalized, impacting on their retention, overall performance, and work prospects. It is also argued that the context within which part-time law students experience legal education contributes to a collective habitus which may structure what is 'thinkable' for their futures. Such concerns are of particular importance given the strong vocational drive amongst part-time law students. An effective response requires action by both universities and the legal profession. Without this, part-time legal education will remain a fundamentally paradoxical experience, offering broader access to legal practice for non-traditional entrants, while continuing to inhibit their chances of success by entrenching their difference in the eyes of the profession. © 2009 Cardiff University Law School.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jun 1, 2009
Journal Journal of Law and Society
Print ISSN 0263-323X
Electronic ISSN 1467-6478
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 36
Issue 2
Pages 220-247
APA6 Citation Francis, A., & McDonald, I. (2009). After dark and out in the cold: Part-time law students and the myth of 'equivalency'. Journal of Law and Society, 36(2), 220-247.
Keywords part-time law students, equivalency
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : Published by Cardiff University Law School and Blackwell Publishing. The definitive version is available at


You might also like

Downloadable Citations