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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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Good point.


Why do these issues always have to get framed in the most extreme terms?

An ABA degree is not the only path to success, that is evidenced by the thousands of non-ABA attorneys practicing in CA. However, in terms of getting hired as a DA/PD, you have to understand how much things have changed since 2008. Yes, there are non-ABA DAs working in just about every county in the state. Those people are great, experienced attorneys who do a great job. Many of them were hired years ago, when DA/PD jobs weren't paying very well and it was hard to attract top ABA grads. That simply isn't the case anymore. Two major events changed the level of competition for those jobs: First, they started to pay a lot better and offered great benefits. Second, the economy imploded. DA/PD jobs are now highly sought after, and the local offices are receiving resumes from people who would never have applied for a government job 10 or 15 years ago.

Please understand that I am not making this up, the objectively verifiable evidence is out there if you want to find it.

Does that mean that a non-ABA grad can't get hired? No, of course not, but it's one more hurdle that the applicant will have to overcome. The school you referred to in Chico, California Northern, is CBE accredited. There is a big difference between CBE accredited and unaccredited in the eyes of many employers.

For anyone who doubts me, don't take my word for it. Go to Calbar's website and use the advanced search function to look up various DAs offices.  See how many new hires are ABA grads, how many are CBE, and how many are unaccredited. I took a look at a few rural counties in northern CA, the kind of place I figured would be more likely to hire non-ABA grads. Of the DAs hired since 2000, nearly every single one was an ABA grad. There were a handful of CBE, and zero online. In the more populated counties it was 100% ABA across the board. Now, if you go back 20 years or so you'll see a lot more CBE grads at those offices, but that's not reflective of what hiring is like now.

I don't doubt that someone can get a great education outside of the ABA scheme, in fact I'm highly critical of the ABA for lots of reasons. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I have huge respect for online grads who pass the CA bar. But if you're going to say that it's "hogwash" that an ABA degree is required to get a job as a DA, back it up with some evidence.

I'm not necessarily a fan of the current system, but to deny it's existence is counterproductive.

It is a huge difference, but not entirely correct.   There are a few states which will allow distance learning graduates to take the state bar, though they may have practice requirements before allowing them to do so.  This has been discussed ad nauseam on here - do a search.

5 years practice and motion in to the DC bar but no one seems to understand that here.  Iowa has a similar motion in with a few twists.  Even if it is theoretically possible to take a bar in a few other states, they will make it difficult for you to qualify. Online grads are not welcome except in California and DC.

Jonlevy is right. The thing to understand is that individual state bars are not required to admit anyone. They can put all sorts of restrictions in place, and it's absolutely fine. The total number of jurisdictions that will clearly admit an online student is two: California and DC. Other jurisdictions may admit an online grad on special motion or petition, but this is not guaranteed. In those states you essentially have permission to apply, that is all. They can still turn you down.

Personally, I'd like to see all state bars follow CA's lead and open the doors to people who have chosen a path different from the ABA scheme. But pointing to a few anecdotal examples of online grads who have been admitted in various states misses the point: most state bars will actively work to keep you out.

Like I stated before, I'm coming out of law enforcement so if I was to practice law, I would prefer to work for the District Attorney's Office. After all, I would rather contribute by keeping criminals in jail rather than trying to keep those individuals out. The Cal-Bar school near my house is not correspondence, and a large number of their graduates are hired by the D.A.'s office. They also have a courthouse on site that is run by the Superior Court of California, so there is a lot of networking between the students of this school and the D.A.'s Office. If I couldn't get a position with the D.A.'s Office, I would open my own practice as I would not like to work for a law firm. Hence my situation, and the reason why I treading lightly and trying to weigh my opinions . . .

If your goal is the DA's office, the local CBE school is a much better bet than online. Ask your local DA if they've ever hired an online grad, and I promise you the answer is "no". A couple of decades ago jobs like the DA and (especially) Public Defender were considered relatively easy to get. The pay was low, the turnover was high, and most new hires came from small ABA schools or CBE schools. That's not the case anymore. The pay is decent, turn over is practically zero, and most offices are on a hiring freeze. When jobs do open, they are flooded with applicants and can be very picky about who they hire. It's not at all uncommon now to see Public Defenders from UCLA, Davis, etc.

At some DA/PD offices you can still get hired as a CBE grad because the local CBE school is the only game in town. However, even at  those offices you will be competing with both ABA and CBE grads who have several years of experience under their belts. If you decide to go to the CBE school, do everything you can to score an internship at the DA, and do a great job. Personal connections matter, and it will help immensely when a job opens up.

Good Luck!

Law School Applications / Re: Character and Fitness - Law School App
« on: July 17, 2012, 12:23:04 PM »
As a general rule, I think you're always better off fully disclosing everything. Most of this stuff probably wouldn't cause any problems anyway, but not disclosing it might. You'll find out during law school that the bar is very intolerant of omissions/misleading statements even when it comes to minor issues. They want your full, frank disclosure. No equivocations, no excuses, just disclosure.

I don't know what individual law schools require you to disclose, or what individual state bars require, either. But think of it this way: you probably don't want any discrepancy between your law school apps and your bar app. If you disclose something on one app and not on the other, that raises red flags.

Just my two cents.

You don't necessarily need a B.A. to attend an ABA law school, either. The ABA does not require a college degree for admissions, only (I believe) 90 units of college work. Most law schools go above that minimal requirement and require a bachelor's degree. Some don't, however. Tulane clearly advertises on their website that they'll consider applicants without a bachelor's, and Whittier used to as well. I believe several other schools do, too. I think these programs are usually reserved for non-traditional students. I don't think they'd take a 21 year old who simply didn't feel like finishing his degree.

I have heard of people being getting accepted to ABA schools other than those mentioned, I just can't remember which ones. 

L.L.M. Board / Re: LLM in tax without a JD
« on: July 16, 2012, 05:22:52 PM »
I didn't know that it was possible to get an LL.M without a J.D., that's interesting.

Here's my question: what's the utility of the degree, and is it worth what you'll pay in tuition? An LL.M without a J.D. will probably not allow you to take the bar and practice law, so what's the advantage? If the reason is simply to gain knowledge of tax law, you might as well get an LL.M from a cheap online source rather than pay tens of thousands of dollars to Villanova. I don't think the LL.M will permit you to give legal advice, so I wonder about it's cost/benefit.

Are you sure it's not an M.A. in Law, or something like that?

So attending law school via correspondence is a good fit for me, as I don not reside near an ABA school and I have experience attending school online. Where I find myself torn is whether I should go to the B&M Cal Bar school two miles away from my house for about $50,000; or should I attend a law school via correspondence for approximately $12,000 out the door? ,

So, the cal-bar school near your house, is that correspondence?

If I lived in California, honestly, I'd look at the distance learning / calbar schools.  But it depends a lot on your goals.  I am not ever going to be top
10% of my law school class and I intend to hang out a shingle when I'm done. 

That's a tough choice, and there are pros and cons to each. The question is whether the benefits of one choice outweigh the detriments of the other. As Legend would be quick to point out, this is a highly personal decision. However, I do believe that there are general broad considerations that apply to just about everybody. A cost/benefit analysis is among those generally applicable considerations. You'll save 40k by going online, that's clear enough.

That 40k you'll save in the short term, though, is really only "saved" if you pass the bar and get a job. If you don't pass the FYLSE (not required for CBE schools!), or don't pass the bar, you'll be spending time and money preparing for those exams instead of earning income as a lawyer. Statistically, you'd have a much better shot at passing the bar from a CBE school than from an online school. And remember, the bar is only offered twice a year and have to wait five months to get your score. If you have to take the baby bar a couple of times, then the big bar a couple of times, think about how much time you'll lose.

I know that there's a lot of talk here about school reputations (maybe "obsession" is a better word), but it has to be addressed. A degree from a CBE school and a degree from an online/unaccredited school will not be viewed the same by the overwhelming majority of employers, both public and private. Plenty of places that will gladly hire from a CBE school (think DA, PD, small firms) will not hire an unaccredited grad, period. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, it's just the way it is.

If you plan on immediately hanging out your own shingle, or already have a job lined up, that may not matter anyway. It seems that alot of online grads plan to go this route. Spend a little time researching this option before committing to it, though. Most people who have not had experience in a law office have no clue how difficult it is to start your own firm straight out of law school with no experience. At least initially, most solo practitioners have to rely on referrals. Honestly, lots of lawyers would be skeptical about referring business to an online grad.

It can be done, and I'm sure you can find testimonials from people who have done it. I'd be willing to bet that most of the success stories involve people who had small business/entrepeneurial experience before attending online law school. In the end, my point is this: unless you have a very clear plan and understand the ramifications of attending an unaccredited school, you may not save that 40k after all. The decision is yours alone, and I might be totally wrong about everything I've said. These are just a few things that I want to consider if I were in your position.

I am under the impression the online schools are not state accredited, they are registered with the state.  The state accredited law schools are not online.

That's exactly right, the California state bar (like the ABA) will not accredit distance learning J.D. programs whether online or correspondance. The online schools have no specific programmatic accreditation, but in the case of Concord I think it has some kind of other distance learning-based accreditation. For the practice of law, however, only two kinds of accreditation matter: ABA or state bar. Unaccredited CA schools are "registered" with the state bar, but that's it.

Graduates from CA state accredited (CBE) law schools can, as Cher1300 pointed out, take the bar in other states depending on the state's specific regulations. Sometimes they require 3-5 years practice, sometimes not, it varies. Many states, however, will not admit an online of otherwise unaccredited grad, period. It's one pretty big advantage the CBE schools have over online (along with no FYLSE requirement). 

True, it's the unfortunate reality of living in a depressed economy. And, BTW, it doesn't mean that a non-ABA can't get a job, it just means that applicants should be aware of the pecking order that most law offices adhere to: Big Name ABA, Small Name ABA, Calbar, everything else.

Of course there are always exceptions to the rule. A Calbar grad with 3-5 years experience in criminal law, for example, would probably stand a better chance at getting hired by the DA or PD than an ABA grad with no applicable experience. Geography also plays a role. The thing about online J.D.s, in my opinion, is not that they have a bad reputation, but it's that most attorneys just don't know what to make of it. Most attorneys in CA have worked with both ABA and CBE grads, and know that there are good and bad lawyers from each category. There are so few online grads, however, that I think it's simply an unknown quantity. I think that the lack of knowledge leads to skepticism, which might be unfair. As online education becomes more common, may be this will change, but I wouldn't hold my breath. 

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