Law School Discussion

Law Students => Pursuing an LLM => Topic started by: Yuki Sprite on June 25, 2012, 04:58:52 AM

Title: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: Yuki Sprite on June 25, 2012, 04:58:52 AM
So,

I graduated from a non-ABA California law school, passed the bar exam, got sworn in, etc.

My question now is, how do I get ABA accreditation???

I don't want to repeat 3 years of law school, so I'm wondering if I can get an LLM from an ABA school that will give me all the rights and privileges afforded to ABA JDs. Would the LLM need to be in a specific major? I read somewhere that most states just require that the applicant have 26 ABA-Accredited credits in bar exam subjects. Could I complete an LLM designed for foreign lawyers? Or, would it be possible for me to get an LLM that is specialized (i.e. tax or business law).

I'm not planning on practicing law. So, this is more of a career move than a professional (law practice) move. I'm planning on starting work by the end of this year, so something I could do part time would be preferable (like Professional (summer school), online (I've sort-of had enough of online), or evenings) I would also prefer the best brand name I could get.

Any input on this issue would be greatly appreciated.

Btw, sorry for any typos, I'm writing this at 3:50 in the morning.
Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: Cher1300 on June 25, 2012, 09:35:17 AM
Why do you need the ABA accreditation if you don't want to practice law?  It's not quite clear what you want to do.  If you want an LLM, does that mean you want to teach law?  Is the school you went to state accredited?
Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: Yuki Sprite on June 25, 2012, 09:45:48 AM
State accredited...? Not sure. I'm licensed to practice CA law and I can go through the motions to become licensed to practice federal law as well.

But, I think my school's website says that it is not accredited by CA. I'm not clear on those technicalities.

The reason I'm wondering about getting ABA is, in part, because I think that having a fully accredited degree would look better on a resume (duh), and also just because I'm curious. On a bit of a side note, I'm studying for the CPA exam, and if I where to be able to get an LLM in tax and get ABA accreditation at the same time... couldn't hurt.
Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on June 25, 2012, 10:18:24 AM
Well, there are a few things to consider.

First, the ABA does not accredit LL.M programs, only J.D. programs. A particular law school may have ABA approval and may also grant LL.Ms, but the LL.M program itself will not be ABA accredited. Even if you got an LL.M from Harvard, for example, that would not qualify you to sit for most state's bar exams. Most states require that you have an ABA-accredited J.D. Foreign lawyers can sometimes get an LL.M and practice in the U.S., but it really depends on where they went to law school (some foreign degrees are recognized by some states, others aren't), and what state they want to practice in. In short, your J.D. really determines whether your legal education is ABA approved.

You need to find out what accreditation your law school has. If it's non-ABA and non-CBE (CA state), then it's probably unaccredited. Sometimes these school advertise themselves as being "Registered with the California State Bar" or something like that. This is important because many LL.M programs will require that your J.D. be from an ABA accredited school. Some, however, don't. You'll need to check out each individual school.

Here is the main issue: you said that you don't want to practice law. If that is the case, spending tens of thousands of dollars on an LL.M is pointless. Please understand that I'm not trying to be rude or overly critical, it's just a fact. For the vast majority of legal jobs (other than tax and maybe natural resources law) an LL.M is usually uneccessary. For non-legal jobs an LL.M is completely uneccessary. For non-legal jobs an LL.M, even from a big name school, is probably not going to help. 
Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: Yuki Sprite on June 25, 2012, 10:44:34 AM
Ok,

So my school is registered as an unaccredited law school.

Purely out of curiosity, as a CA attorney from an unaccredited law school, what would be the absolute fastest way to get a JD that is accredited by the ABA? Is an ABA-accredited school allowed to accept any transfer credits from an unaccredited school?

(kind-of sounds nice to go to law school and not have to worry about taking the bar exam at the end :)

Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: Yuki Sprite on June 25, 2012, 10:54:44 AM
By the way,

I have a fully accredited undergraduate degree. I'm guessing that factors in somehow.
Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on June 25, 2012, 11:21:50 AM
From the horse's mouth: Standard 308 of the ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools states "The ABA does not formally approve any program other than the first degree in law (J.D.)."

As far as I know, ABA approved schools will not accept credits from an unaccredited law program. I have seen some ABA schools which will accept a certain number of transfer credits from a California state bar approved school, but never from an unaccredited program. I think you'd be starting from scratch if you decided to get another J.D. from an ABA approved school. In addition, since you're already a member of the bar, it's possible that you're more or less prohibited from attending law school again. You'd have such a huge advantage over your non-lawyer classmates that schools might be very skeptical about admitting you. I imagine that neither the ABA nor the individual law schools themselves want to encourage people to obtain bar admission first, then seek admission to law school. You may even want to check with the CA bar, they may have some restrictions on acquiring a second J.D.

You're already admitted to the CA bar, which is no small task! You should be proud of that accomplishment and focus on building a career either in law, which you're already qualified for, or in another field which doesn't require an ABA degree. I don't know you or your situation, so everything I say might be totally wrong and misguided. If so, ignore my advice. But based on the small amount of information you've provided, I don't see how an ABA law degree (which would cost possibly $100,000+) would be especially useful. What field do you want to work in?

BTW, your undergrad degree would only matter in terms of J.D. admissions. This is just my personal opinion, but I have a strong suspicion that most law schools absolutely, positively will not want to admit a student to a J.D program who is already a licensed attorney. I would contact the individual schools and ask them directly. I might be wrong.   
Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: Cher1300 on June 25, 2012, 11:25:21 AM
As far as I know, no ABA law school will take any courses from an unaccredited school.  I also attend an ABA in California, and even my school that is not highly ranked limits transfer credits even from a state accredited school - let alone unaccredited.  Unfortunately, you would have to start all over again.  Although I don't know why you would want to since you already passed the bar and have no intention of practicing law.   As Roald said, why would you want to spend the money?
Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: Yuki Sprite on June 25, 2012, 03:27:49 PM
Thanks for the information (Roald ;) ). Like I said, I'm curious about the procedure for acquiring ABA after becoming licensed. Plus, I'm just considering my options because I'm in my early twenties, so even if I were to go through law school all over again, I would still graduate with my pier group. Also, being from a non-ABA school, this kind of information is nice to know when new students or alumni have questions.

However, I am starting a career in business through accounting and if I ever were to practice law, it would probably either be federal law (i.e. federal tax, bankruptcy, or patent) or as a professional consultant (not requiring license). So, repeating a J.D. for the purpose of ABA is not beneficial to me.

Moving back to the question of an LL.M. in tax, without regards to ABA-accreditation, do you guys have any LL.M. program recommendations that are doable for someone who is working full time in LA? The reason I ask is because, and I know this is contrary to the common view on this forum, the acquisition of an LL.M. has been highly recommended to me by high-ranking business professionals (corporate in-house counsels, accountants, consultants, and analysts) with whom I have spoken. And, when I say highly recommended, I mean HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. So, this question comes without regards to the merits of an LL.M. Also, it would be nice to associate with a well respected institutional brand.
Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on June 25, 2012, 05:55:48 PM
If you plan to practice tax law an LL.M is a good idea, if you plan to work as an accountant only, it might not be worth the extra expense. Taxation, as I said before, is one of the few areas in which LL.Ms are often required/beneficial.

As far as programs in the LA area (my hometown too!), I'm not sure. I imagine that UCLA and USC have tax programs, and maybe Loyola. If you plan to open your own office it doesn't really matter where you go, you'll be your own boss. If you want to get into a decent sized firm, however, it matters alot. The bigger firms will want to see a bigger name, ideally someplace like NYU. Hiring at those places is very competitive.
Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: FalconJimmy on June 26, 2012, 07:56:19 AM
Is an ABA-accredited school allowed to accept any transfer credits from an unaccredited school?

Yes.  Contrary to what some other posters have said, ABA schools CAN accept non-ABA credits.  They can even accept credits from non-law schools.  (For instance, Joint JD/MBA programs accept credits from business schools.)

Very, very, very few schools do, though.  To the best of my knowledge, there are only 2 or 3 and they're all in California.  Not to be demeaning, but generally speaking, look for the worst ABA accredited schools in California to begin your search. 

Outside of those very few schools, no other ABA accredited schools accept non-ABA law school credits, to the best of my knowledge.
Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on June 26, 2012, 08:53:41 AM
Is an ABA-accredited school allowed to accept any transfer credits from an unaccredited school?

Yes.  Contrary to what some other posters have said, ABA schools CAN accept non-ABA credits.  They can even accept credits from non-law schools.  (For instance, Joint JD/MBA programs accept credits from business schools.)

Very, very, very few schools do, though.  To the best of my knowledge, there are only 2 or 3 and they're all in California.  Not to be demeaning, but generally speaking, look for the worst ABA accredited schools in California to begin your search. 

Outside of those very few schools, no other ABA accredited schools accept non-ABA law school credits, to the best of my knowledge.

That's interesting, I didn't know that. I had looked into transferring when I was in law school, and I remember that the various law schools' policies always stated  that credits from an ABA school would be accepted, period. But, if any ABA school would accept credits from a unaccredited law school it would be in California!

What do you think about the OP's status as a member of the bar? I think that might be a much bigger hurdle to overcome. Sorry, OP, I'm not trying to be rude. I'm actually kinda interested by the question: can you get accepted to an ABA JD program if you're already a lawyer?
Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: Cher1300 on June 26, 2012, 10:37:13 AM
Is an ABA-accredited school allowed to accept any transfer credits from an unaccredited school?

Yes.  Contrary to what some other posters have said, ABA schools CAN accept non-ABA credits.  They can even accept credits from non-law schools.  (For instance, Joint JD/MBA programs accept credits from business schools.)

Very, very, very few schools do, though.  To the best of my knowledge, there are only 2 or 3 and they're all in California.  Not to be demeaning, but generally speaking, look for the worst ABA accredited schools in California to begin your search. 

Outside of those very few schools, no other ABA accredited schools accept non-ABA law school credits, to the best of my knowledge.

From the research I have done, which has only been in Southern California, none of the ABA schools accept transfer credits from unaccredited schools.   The lower-tiered schools like Western State, La Verne, and Thomas Jefferson will accept transfer from state accredited schools, but not unacredited.  So if any school does, it's probably outside the LA area.   I'll keep searching, but if you know one or two off the bat let me know because I am curious about that.
Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on June 26, 2012, 01:10:58 PM
Golden Gate, Western State, TJSL, and La Verne will accept only CBE/ABA units. Further, the general tone of their admissions info seems to indicate that CBE units may be accepted. La Verne's website further states that if accepted, CBE units will be limited to 29, while an ABA student can transfer 44. If none of those schools are willing to accept unaccredited units, who is?
Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: Yuki Sprite on June 26, 2012, 05:05:33 PM
I Emailed Berkeley, and they said that my status as an attorney precludes admittance to the J.D. program. They stated that it was their school's policy and inferred that it was not related to an accrediting agency's regulations. Not that it matters to me, because I have no interest in expending the effort and finances to get a second J.D. (that would probably be from a low-tier school anyway).

In addition, since you're already a member of the bar, it's possible that you're more or less prohibited from attending law school again. You'd have such a huge advantage over your non-lawyer classmates that schools might be very skeptical about admitting you. I imagine that neither the ABA nor the individual law schools themselves want to encourage people to obtain bar admission first, then seek admission to law school. You may even want to check with the CA bar, they may have some restrictions on acquiring a second J.D.

However, I do think that the system is unfair, or at least clumsy, in that it does not provide a reasonable way for someone like me to prove competency, since most state's bar exams, by themselves, are apparently inadequate indicators of competency. The unfairness is obvious when you consider that if I were barred from acquiring a second J.D. from an ABA school because of prior education and certification, that regulation would certainly be unconstitutional discrimination (even if you classify this as a non-suspect/ non-fundamental right, my willingness to meet the standard through a second J.D. would preclude the regulation from having a "rational basis"). And, if I were allowed to acquire a second J.D., As Roald said, it would be unfair to the other students because I would easily outperform them academically (which is ridiculously ironic).

Oh well, I'll definitely maintain my license, but since I don't want to practice law as a profession, this isn't really my fight. I may still end up getting an LL.M. in tax after finishing the CPA exam, but only because the professionals I've spoken with said that it would be a great career move if I ever got into consulting.

Thanks for the input everyone.  ;D
Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on June 26, 2012, 05:43:40 PM
However, I do think that the system is unfair, or at least clumsy, in that it does not provide a reasonable way for someone like me to prove competency, since most state's bar exams, by themselves, are apparently inadequate indicators of competency.
[/quote]

I would say that your ability to pass the toughest bar exam in the country is the best indication of your competency. If you can pass the CA bar exam you're doing better than the vast majority of wannabe lawyers. You'll always have to deal with some people who are clueless as to what you've accomplished, but that's life. I've always found it to be absurd that someone could pass the CA bar but be denied admission to Wyoming. Seriously?

Is it unconstitutional to prevent people from seeking a second J.D.? I dunno, but I would think not. Lots of law schools are private and can discriminate as much as they want as long as it's not based on suspect classification. As far as public schools like Berkeley, perhaps the rational basis is thatt hey don't want to create the legal version of community  colleges: institutions with open admissions which are used as a stepping stone to higher education.

I'm curious, what was your experience in law school like? I imagine that you still used the same books and followed the same general format as most ABA/CBE students?

 
Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: Yuki Sprite on June 26, 2012, 08:00:33 PM
The unconstitutionality comes from a state regulation that prohibits someone, who is capable, from acquiring ABA accreditation, and by extension the right to take the bar exam and practice law. Additionally, it could be argued that a school that accepts government funds and arbitrarily classifies and rejects students based on their prior, advanced, education is discriminating. However, if being barred from admittance were a requirement set forth by the ABA for accredited schools to follow, then that rule would be unconstitutionally discriminatory because the rule creates an arbitrary class and the ABA is performing a public function.

I attended a correspondence law school. So, we were required to log a minimum of 864 (if I remember correctly) hours of study each year. The program was, as required by law, four years long. We generally had assignments due biweekly, and a conference once a year which was for orientation, appellate advocacy, and trial advocacy (no required attendance for year two which came before appellate ad). Proctored final exams culminated each six-month set of courses. An exam typically included 25-50 Multiple choice and 2-3 essays (closed book and lasting typically 3 hours) (1 final for each class - normally 3 classes per semester) and accounted for the majority of a student's grade. An exception was the UCC final which had a combination of multiple choice and true or false questions, a series of short answers, and 8 or so essays. That exam was open book to the extent that we could reference that 5 inch book of rules, regulations, and statutes. Of course, each course's assignments and final exam varied to some extent.

In regards to the resources used. The required textbooks were generally the applicable horn-book (i.e. Prosser and Keeton), Gilberts outlines, Case books, and recorded audio lectures by the adjunct professor. Of course, everyone used additional materials like: Law-in-a-flash, Barbri, Fleming, Sum and Substance, and practice exam materials (like Finz and PMBR).

Compared to a regular attendance school, there was virtually no social interaction between classmates except for occasional phone conference calls and the annual conference (which required attendance). My school typically has students from across the country and world. Between my class and the classes immediately ahead and behind, there were students from five different countries and 3-4 continents. The time zones make live phone calls difficult to schedule. A lot of lonely nights studying all by myself :( On the up side, the cost of tuition + books + air fair and lodging for conferences + air fair, lodging, and the cost of the exams for the FYLSE and the Bar exam = less than one years tuition at a regular school (less than 50-60 K). So, lacking in social interaction (and accreditation) but a high quality legal education. I think that my class, the people I kept in touch with anyway, had a high majority pass-rate on the CA Bar. Higher, I think, than norm (about 46%).
Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: FalconJimmy on June 28, 2012, 07:52:56 AM

From the research I have done, which has only been in Southern California, none of the ABA schools accept transfer credits from unaccredited schools.   The lower-tiered schools like Western State, La Verne, and Thomas Jefferson will accept transfer from state accredited schools, but not unacredited.  So if any school does, it's probably outside the LA area.   I'll keep searching, but if you know one or two off the bat let me know because I am curious about that.

Ah, thanks for catching that.  When the OP said a non-ABA accredited California Law School, I was thinking a state-accredited school.  However, you are right to point out that a state accredited school has accreditation.  To the best of my knowledge, you are correct.  I don't think any school accepts credits from a school that is entirely unaccredited.
Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: FalconJimmy on June 28, 2012, 08:01:56 AM
To the OP:  there are very, very few instances where I believe it is in a person's best interests to get a non-ABA accredited degree.

One instance would be for a person who intends to practice only in California, and will practice in an area of the law that is highly entrepreneurial, such as hanging out a shingle and opening a PI, criminal or family law practice.

The other instance is for people who simply want the credential, but don't intend to practice.  If I am understanding you correctly, this is your situation.

In business, there are very, very few businesses that are conscious of where degrees come from and those places really only care about schools that are in the top 10 or 20 or thereabouts.  For the rest of us mere mortals, there's precious little difference between going to the 40th ranked business school in the country and the 100th. 

Once you've been in the work world for 2 years or more, your education becomes largely irrelevant in 99% of most people's careers.  In business, it's not where you came from, it's what you've done and what you can do that's important.  Although MBAs are common these days, they're usually just a check-off, so getting an "executive MBA" from the local non-AACSB accredited liberal arts college is all most people will ever need.

If you intend to work in business, I'd say to let this go.  From here on out, you can legitimately say that you have a law degree.  Since you don't ever intend to practice, anything beyond saying that and listing a J.D. on your resume is irrelevant. 

I had a similar situation when I graduated from b-school years ago.  I went to the #43 ranked business school at the time, and was a little stunned at how little it meant.  However, as I looked over my LSAT and gpa, I realized I might have qualified to go to something in the top 30 or thereabouts.  However, once you have an MBA, the better schools are not about to let you get another.

I understand your desire.  However, I would advise that you don't spend any more of your precious years and precious dollars trying to further perfect a credential you already have.  If anything, getting a second J.D. would make you look either insane, or like a professional student, or perhaps like somebody with severe mental problems to a prospective employer.

Best of luck.  You have your law degree.  You passed the bar.  Don't keep re-living this episode of your life.  You did fine.
Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: Yuki Sprite on June 29, 2012, 12:25:52 AM
FalconJimmy,

Hey, thanks man, that's nice of you to say. Don't worry, I won't be going out of my way for the ABA. Also, it has been my experience that most people I talk to who aren't in the legal profession are like:

People: "Where did you go to school?"
Me: "XYZ school of law in CA."
People: "Wow, very nice."

Of course, they don't recognize or care about the name.

What you said about the importance of your school after two years of work experience is what I have heard from other people also. "You go to college to get your first job."
Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: FalconJimmy on June 29, 2012, 09:07:33 AM
Also, it has been my experience that most people I talk to who aren't in the legal profession are like:

People: "Where did you go to school?"
Me: "XYZ school of law in CA."
People: "Wow, very nice."

Of course, they don't recognize or care about the name.

I think you'll be surprised to find out that most people in the law, outside of California, would probably have pretty much the same reaction.  If you don't intend to work as a lawyer, it's all just a nice credential.  Plus, you passed the bar.  I would be sure to list that on your resume as well.  For instance, "JD from XYZ college.  Admitted to the California Bar on June 99, 3042."

Then, people can ask why you aren't practicing law and you can tell them, "That was never my intention.  I always wanted to do ABC instead."
Title: Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
Post by: legalpractitioner on July 13, 2012, 07:06:34 PM
If you want a ABA degree, go to a ABA law school outside California.  They will accept you even if you are a California attorney already with a non ABA degree.  Do not expect any credit for prior work but it may be negotiable. I had the same problem after moving from California but I could not stomach the idea of going to law school again, so I got a PhD in international law instead.