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Non-Traditional Students / Re: Novus Law School
« on: September 05, 2012, 09:50:51 PM »
If a "law school" is not accredited by any recognized accrediting agency, or registered with the California State Bar, under whose authority does it grant degrees?

Where on earth is the ABA and the state bar?

I'm increasingly convinced that we need to move in the direction of Germany on this issue. Germany has restricted the commercial and professional use of terms such as "university". Only accredited institutions meeting specific criteria can call themselves universities and grant degrees. Other institutions can only grant certificates, etc. Individuals can only legally claim degrees earned from legit schools.

We've allowed the definition of university, law school, doctorate, etc to become so watered down that pretty much anybody can start issuing Ph.Ds from their garage and it's fine. Call me old fashioned, but I think earning a Ph.D should mean more than sending $5000 to an offshore account. It's stupid, and undermines the value of an education.


I always get this place mixed up with California Southern Law School in Riverside, CA.

This law school appears to be an unaccredited program registered with the California bar. That means that a graduate can qualify to take the CA bar exam. There are a few things to keep in mind when considering such a school, however.

This law school is not programmatically accredited by either the ABA or the CA state bar, they are only registered with the CA state bar. There is a big difference between being accredited and being registered. A graduate of a registered law school (like this one) will have to take the First Year Law Student's Exam (the "Baby Bar") after the first year. You can't move on until you pass the FYLSE, and the pass rates are very low. You'll have to travel to CA to take the exam (and return if you need to re-take). Go to the Calbar website and check out the school's FYLSE pass rates.

After passing the FYLSE, getting a positive moral character determination, and passing the CA bar, you will be able to practice law in CA. There is an excellent chance, however, that you will not be able to gai admission to your home state's bar. Most states simply don't allow non-ABA grads to sit for the bar, period. You'll find a lot of unsubstantiated claims on the internet about alternative methods of bar admission, but most states will not allow you in.

California has what is generally acknowledged as the hardest bar exam in the country, and you will have to pass it before you can even attempt to gain admission in another state. Take a look at the bar pass rates for this school on the Calbar website, it's very low. Think long and hard about this stuff before writing a check to this or any other unaccredited law school, especially if you want to practice outside of CA. 

Actually I have met faculty at a HBCU that had only a JD and also Community College faculty with just a JD, but not an online JD.

What is an HBCU? I'm not familiar with the term.

Colleges and universities will count the JD (brick and mortar) as a doctoral degree for accreditation and tenure track purposes.  They will grant the JD equivalency for these two issues.  However, if the teaching position requires a doctoral degree the JD is NOT an academic/subject matter substitute.  The doctoral degree expected is usually the PhD. 

Exactly. If someone can obtain a college teaching position with a J.D. only, then the J.D. will suffice for purposes of tenure. However, the chances of actually obtaining a full time, tenure track position (in fields other than law, of course) with only a J.D. is near zero. A J.D./MBA might be able to land a business/business law position, for example, but that's very rare. The traditionally law-related fields, such as poly sci, history, philosophy and econ will almost invariably require a Ph.D.

I live in the LA area, and even the community colleges here have newly minted Ph.Ds teaching intro courses while they look for full time positions. The competition to get hired at the local universities (even the small, non-elite schools) is insane, and I imagine it's similar in all major metropolitan areas. In any case, even if a college was willing to hire a J.D., I don't think an unaccredited J.D. would suffice. There is just too much competition.

Studying for the LSAT / Re: talk to me...
« on: September 05, 2012, 02:40:01 AM »
There are a few things to address, but the major issues are your LSAT prep and criminal record.


As you already know, 135 will not get you into law school. Here's the good news: You've only taken two practice tests, and you've got time to raise your score. What I find curious (and what may be the bad news) is that your GPA is so out of step with your LSAT practice scores. This may mean that your study methods are ineffective or that you have a mental block which needs to be overcome.

Either way, you need to do a critical self-evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses, and identify the problem(s). You'll never be able to improve if you don't clearly understand exactly what's causing you to stumble. Is it test anxiety, reading too slowly, misunderstanding what the question is asking? I found when I was studying that going through each individual question and really understanding why I got it wrong or right was hugely helpful. When you understand why you got a question right, you start to understand what the testmakers are looking for.

A lot of what the LSAT is seeking to measure is not readily apparent. The LSAT uses its own specific verbage in order to tip you off as to what it's looking for, and you've got to learn to decipher its code. I would highly recommend a prep course with a live instructor, I think it works better than just studying on your own or online. You've got to get the unbiased, objective opinion of a disinterested party to compliment and (if necessary) re-direct your self evaluation. A weekend course probably isn't enough, and you may need to find a way to dedicate more time to prep.

The LSAT is a standardized, learnable test. After a while, you'll start to recognize patterns and be able to anticipate the answer. 

Criminal Record

I don't know what your specific problems were, or how long ago. I doubt if misdemeanors would keep you out of law school, as long as some time has passed and you fully disclose the issues. Failure to disclose is often a much bigger deal than the crime itself. Don't lie about your record, or try to step around it. Full and frank disclosure is the key.

As far as bar admission, I don't know how your state treats misdemeanors. In my state, California, misdemeanors would probably not be a problem unless they were recent or involved dishonesty. Of course, full disclosure is required. Texas may or may not have the same attitude. Check with the state bar.

Lastly, congratulations on overcoming some daunting odds on your path to law school (and life!). Good luck with everything .

In the end I spoke with the Dean at AHU Law school and realized this was an excellent option to Learn the Law and qualify to sit for the bar and eventually practise law. 

Did the Dean mention that according to the CA state bar, only one AHU student has managed to pass the Baby Bar since 2007? Or that zero AHU grads have passed the CA bar exam since 2007? (The records on Calbar's website only go back five years). Do you intend to be the first?

A law school that continually fails to produce even a single California bar-admitted lawyer should be approached with extreme caution.

I understand that you're in a position which requires a distance learning format, but that's an abyssmal record. I'd at least ask a few detailed questions before writing a check to these guys. 

Non-Traditional Students / Re: Novus Law School
« on: September 04, 2012, 01:01:00 PM »
 For someone like the OP, who does not intend to practice law, such a program might be fine to learn something about the law. My issue (as always) is that if the program is not accredited by the ABA or a state bar, then it's difficult to ascertain whether or not the education is up to snuff. Is it rigorous? Does it abide by minimally acceptable academic standards? With an accredited school the consumer knows what their getting, with unaccredited programs there is less certainty. There are exceptions of course, such as Taft and Oak Brook, which seem to have better reputations than other unaccredited schools.

Personally, I believe that absent ABA or state bar accreditation these schools should not be permitted to grant J.D.s. I think it misleads the public, who associate the granting of a law degree with certain academic standards and admissions requirements.

You are saying that you went to Novus and then just one year at Concord and they let you take the state bar? Never heard that in my life. Can you provide a link to where the state of CA shows they allow this method?

The CA bar allows different paths to bar admission that other states don't. One method is graduation from an unaccredited school that is registered with the CA bar. Novus is not registered with the CA bar, but Concord is, and the Calbar website says something like a "combination" of methods may be used to gain bar admission. It's also possible that a Novus grad can qualify under the attorney-assisted study method. 

It is very political and difficult to even obtain an adjunct postion and yes, a Master's dergree is the minimum for teaching.  A degree from an accredited school is a must.

The OP's question was whether a Concord JD (or EJD) is an acceptable doctorate in order to obtain a college teaching position. The short answer is "no way", with a few narrow exceptions.

First, the fact that Concord is regionally accredited doesn't mean much when it comes to teaching law, which is the only field in which someone with a JD could reasonably expect to land a fulltime position. ABA accreditation is the only accreditation that matters in this respect, and Concord's JD is not programmatically accredited by the ABA. It's possible that a Concord JD would permit the holder to teach some online courses, or live courses at an unaccredited school, but that's about all. No ABA or state accredited school is going to hire a online grad as tenure track or adjunct faculty.

Secondly, a JD is not interchangeable with a Ph.D. If a position calls for a doctorate, that usually does not mean a JD (and it never, ever means an EJD). I've met Poly Sci and Econ profs who had a JD in addition to a Ph.D, but never just a JD. Again, a JD holder may be able to score a few adjunct classes, but that's about it. The fact that a college teaching position calls for a regionally accredited doctorate does not mean that any doctorate from any regionally accredited school will suffice. Kaplan (Concord's parent institution) is regionally accredited, but that doesn't mean it's considered on par with other RA universities. In the very competitive world of academic hiring, this matters.

In short, if the OP is considering spending tens of thousands of dollars on a Concord JD/EJD in hopes that this will count as an acceptable doctorate for the purposes of obtaining a professorship, save your money. Alternatively, get a Ph.D from a well known university, publish like crazy, and you may get lucky. There really is no easy shortcut to becoming a professor.

Law School Applications / Re: Chances?
« on: September 04, 2012, 11:47:10 AM »
Check out the Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools, also available at LSAC. It provides admissions grids, and gives you a great idea as to your chances. From what I remember 156 would be low for UW, you'd probably more like 160-165 to be safe. Your numbers place you in quasi-splitter territory, which makes your chances tougher to handicap.

Some people with numbers like yours will probably get admitted to UW, the question is what else did they bring to the table? My guess is they're probably non-trad students, URM, etc. Law school admissions really is a numbers game, regardless of what admissions officers tell you. You have some good international experience, but those kinds of soft factors will only be taken into account if you're a bordeline case. UW's median is 163, and the 25% (bottom quarter) is 158. In other words, you'd be below the 25th percentile, hoping that soft factors will pull you up. It's possible, but I think you've got an uphill battle.

Did you apply to any backups? If you want to stay in the area check out Marquette, St. Thomas, and maybe a couple of Chicago schools. Another option is to focus on obtaining a scholarship to  a lower ranked school like William Mitchell, Valparaiso, Detroit-Mercy, etc. In the end, that may be your best option.

BTW, Galway is one of my favorite cities in the world. I used to spend a lot of time in Clifden, about 20 miles away, and went to Galway all the time. Last time I was there we caught a free Radiohead concert on the square, brilliant!

Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Charleston School of Law
« on: September 02, 2012, 12:58:39 PM »
Can you elaborate on how likely scholarships are and the process to obtain them. It seems that money hungry law schools who have the power to turn down many students each year wouldn't be so keen on dolling out free money. Anything would help with their $17,500/semester cost.

Glad I can be of some (limited) help. I can't tell you anything specific about obtaining a scholarship at Charleston, because I don't have any experience with the school. I can tell you that generally speaking if you have a GPA/LSAT profile that is significantly higher than the school's median, you have a good shot at scholarship money. The amount of money awarded, requirements to keep the scholarship, and numbers needed to obtain the scholarship will vary according to the school.

Believe it or not, law schools are willing to give away lots of money in order to attract highly qualified students. Law school admissions is a numbers game and GPA/LSAT dominate the process. Law schools want students with high numbers because they get to report those numbers to LSAC and US News and World Report, which increases their rank. Also, those students are more likely to pass the bar, which increases the school's rank/reputation. You'd be amazed at how much money people with high LSAT scores get thrown their way.

Although law school admissions is competitive, as you said, most schools admit students within a relatively narrow band. Look at the 25% - 75% numbers on LSAC (the bottom and top quarters of enrolled students). Often, they're only a few points apart. Charleston's medians for the full time program are 3.2/152, and something like 2.8/149 for part time (my numbers are not precise, I'm going off of memory). That means that Charleston probably gets very few applicants with, say, 165+ LSAT scores. Of the few they do get, most probably apply to Charleston as a back up and will turn down a scholarship offer in order to attend UNC, Wake Forest, Duke, etc. I think that a school like Charleston would therefore have a lot of incentive to try to retain an applicant with those kind of numbers. 

As I said before, I don't know anything about Charleston and I certainly can't tell you what specific LSAT score would get you a scholarship. However, based on what I've experienced personally and based on what other people have posted here and elsewhere, an LSAT score that is 10-15 points higher than a school's median is probably going to put you in a good position to obtain money. I had an LSAT score roughly ten points above my school's median and I received a 75% scholarship. The stipulations in order to retain the scholarship, however, were brutal (top 15%!).

Focus on high grades, then focus on the LSAT, don't obsess over nonsense rankings schemes, and you'll be alright. You can get a good legal education at any ABA law school, but you really should try to minimize the debt. As an aside, I spoke with a friend of mine just a couple of days ago. He graduated from one of the most prestigious law schools in the country, and was telling me that every time he writes out that huge check to pay back his loan he wishes he had accepted a full scholarship offer at a smaller school instead. He thought he wanted Biglaw, and was willing to pay a premium to get there. After a couple of years he burned out (as is common) and now works at a job he really likes, but which does not require an elite degree.

Good Luck, let us know what happens!

Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Charleston School of Law
« on: August 31, 2012, 12:01:44 PM »
I think you have a good, workable plan. You're considering the right criteria (geography, future goals) and you seem to be very realistic about the legal market and the implications of attending a T4. That, combined with your work experience, vaults you well ahead of most law students.

If I could offer any advice, it would be this: do everything you can to minimize your costs. Since you will likely be going solo, and you want to have a family, minimal debt should be a primary goal. Here are two things to consider:

1) Get your B.A. at a cheap public school. I don't know the Charleston area at all, but if there is a state university nearby take advantage of wthe cheap tuition. When it comes to law school admissions, they really don't care where you went to undergrad. Try to get the highest possible GPA. Even though it's not required for admission to Charleston Law, it will help you get scholarship $$$.

2) Consider a cheaper public law school, like University of South Carolina. I don't know if that's an option due to it's distance from Charleston, but it's something to think about. Alternatively, start focusing on the LSAT now, and get the highest possible score. A high GPA/LSAT will likely get you a scholarship to Charleston. I don't remember Charleston's admissions profile, but I bet if you could score in the mid-160s you'd be in great shape. You have the time to do it, and you can start now.

As an aside, I'd probably drop the paralegal program and focus on getting a B.A. as quickly as possible. It's just my opinion, but if you want to be a lawyer focus your time and money on getting to law school.

Good Luck with everything!

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