I agree. This illustrates one of the problems I have with unaccredited programs. Unaccredited programs accept almost everyone and have little in the way of prerequisites. Bachelor's degree not required, good UGPA not required, LSAT not required. In other words there's no "weeding out" process previous to matriculation and many unqualified applicants are admitted. Not surprisingly a huge number fail the FYLSE and bar exam.
Certainly there are smart, successful graduates of unaccredited schools. I've had the pleasure of meeting several. Statisically, however, these graduates are the exception, not the rule. If someone hasn't demonstrated that they can succeed academically or on a standardized test (LSAT), I'm not sure what criteria (if any) is used to determine that they'll be able to pass the state legal exams.
Hi, Maintain. Good, thoughtful post. I have mixed emotions about unaccredited law schools. One the one hand, they may serve a purpose for the right person. On the other, that purpose is probably something other than putting a J.D. on one's resume in furtherance of applying for jobs as an attorney. I attend a CBE school. My decision to enroll required a balancing test similar to that which students of unaccredited schools would have to apply, even though my school is accredited in California and the school enjoys local respect. With an unaccredited school, you get the education, for whatever it's worth. A CBE school is only a few notches above that, since outside of the local legal market, the J.D. is pretty well meaningless, except maybe to non-attorneys. But I understood that when I enrolled. For me, the goal is less about enhancing my resume for job hunting and more about developing my capacity to analyze risk as an attorney. Once I've passed the bar, my mission will be accomplished. I already have an established career in insurance underwriting. A killer degree from a ranking ABA school would be suh-weet, but I don't believe it would advance my career much further than my blue collar J.D. will. Not enough to justify the hit that my retirement savings would take, at any rate. I'm in law school because 15 years into my career, I felt like I'd reached an insuperable plateau. I work with other lay underwriters who have been doing the same thing now for 35 years
. My only shot at rising above my lay peers is to become underwriting counsel. With a CBE education and a bar card, I'll rise well above my colleagues and I won't have to spend 35 years in the business to do it. The license makes all the difference. And my company is completely behind me. My mentoring attorneys have all said, "Just get the license." Fifteen years ago, when I had no experience and no industry contacts, the advice would have been different. But my law school alma mater won't matter as much once I pass the bar because my position and reputation within my company are already firmly established. That said, I'll never run the legal department. But that's not my goal, anyway.
I think unaccredited schools can serve a niche market of people who just want to learn how to apply the law, but don't intend to become BigLaw attorneys. On a more basic level, they also provide people who would never be accepted by regular law schools with a chance
to ride the bumper cars, as it were. Maybe their chances of success are slim, but inasmuch as the law applies to everybody, I believe everybody should have an opportunity to take a stab at it. If they get a hard dose of reality, well... That's life. But with unaccredited schools, at least giving it a try doesn't come at a ridiculous, crippling cost. And if they succeed against the odds, they'll do with the license whatever they can.
Personally, I would not not attend any institution of higher learning that wasn't at least accredited by my state. The statistics are scary enough for evening students like myself for passing the bar, so students of unaccredited institutions really
need to weigh the realities. But accreditation itself is a competitive field, and the higher the accreditation value, the higher the cost of enrolling. Prospective law students need to identify the point where the cost-to-value ratio satisfies their goals and investment-backed expectations.