Lots of really good points included in this thread discussion. I wasn't watching the distance education discussion, so I missed the earlier points (sorry), but if I might jump in here, I can probably add some interesting context.
Another issue with CBE schools is I believe (without about 51% certainty so take it with a grain of salt) Barbri does not offer their services to non-aba students, but I am sure CA Law Dean will interject if that is incorrect. BarBri or Kaplan is really what prepare you for the bar law school builds the foundation, but those courses get you the license. If those courses are available from a CBE school and you do what they say you are likely to get that law license whether from a CBE or ABA school.
Fortunately this is not
true. BarBri has a long history of working just as hard with the CBE schools as with the ABA schools. For a period of about ten years, BarPassers
was considered a better fit for CBE students, so most of the CBE schools, including Monterey College of Law (MCL - where I serve as dean) offered that program. However, BarPassers
is now also owned by Kaplan and has been put on a back burner.
Bar Bri has worked collaboratively with MCL to develop a pilot program that we have designed specifically for our CBE, non-traditional, working students. We are in the fourth year of the program and believe that the results speak for themselves. Without changing our admissions policies or increasing attrition (the two quickest ways to manipulate bar pass rates), MCL has improved our cumulative bar pass rates from 38% in 2005 to 68% in 2011. We are slightly lower after the 2012 results (66%), but that should also increase somewhat as that class gets the opportunity to get a second (and third) chance at the exam. What has changed?
First, we went from about 30% participation in post-graduation bar review programs . . . to 100%. We accomplished this by including the cost of BarBri in the law school tuition. No one has to come up with $4,200+ as a post-graduation "surprise". We extended the bar prep period from 11 weeks to the entire Spring Semester, facilitated by our own Asst. Dean for Academic Support. This provides time for students to complete the entire
review program AND participate in multiple full-day (Saturday) practice exams, some graded by BarBri and some graded by local lawyers who have been through the state bar calibration (grading) training. Just so that you don't think MCL is only about bar preparation, MCL also has a policy that students must repeat bar-tested subjects if they get sub-standard grades (usually 65/66 or below). Note that there is no
additional tuition charge for the repeated courses and achieving a higher grade replaces the lower grade for the purpose of cumulative law school GPA.
All in all - there are simply no short-cuts . . . for the law school or the law students. It requires a LOT of supplemental work to be successful on the (irrationally difficult) California Bar Exam. However, our results show that with this extra work (repeated classes, tutoring, and comprehensive bar prep), MCL students have successfully overcome low LSAT predictors, learning disabilities, ESL, and work challenges (as an evening program, virtually all of our students work during the day) . . . and can be successful in law school and on the bar exam.
I think CBE schools should require some minimum LSAT score for consumer protection purposes. I think to many people are drawn by being attorney, but if you can't get at least a 150 on the LSAT that is probably an indicator you are not a great standardized test-taker and the bar is about 100x times harder and more pressure than the LSAT.
I also wondered about the relationship between the LSAT and bar exam success. MCL conducted a statistical analysis on the past 6 years of students and I was very surprised how poor the LSAT was as a predictor of law school OR bar exam success. However, remember that our non-traditional student population includes adult, working, ESL students, and I believe a disproportionate number of undiagnosed adult learning disabilities. None of these potential students do particularly well on the LSAT. However, the data unequivocally proved that law school cumulative GPA is the direct predictor of bar exam success, regardless of these other factors
. So I would (and have publicly testified before state bar committees), that a minimum LSAT cannot be justified in the CBE setting. Our reports were an influential part of the data considered by the Committee of Bar Examiners before they rejected a proposal to set minimum LSAT admission standards for CBE law schools.
As for Cher if you were admitted to an ABA school and have been there a few years you have already given so much money it is probably better to stay to have an ABA degree. You will probably only save 30,000 in tuition or so and there will be some doors closed without an ABA degree. If you were a 0L and it was going to be $200,000 in savings it might be different, but you have gone so far down the path you might as well finish it off.
This is good advice for consideration . . . however, if there are factors beyond the financial, such as better academic support, preference for small classes, better job connections through the network of CBE adjunct faculty . . . it might prove beneficial to transfer. IMPORTANT NOTE, there is a limit to the number of transfer units that a school can/will accept. It is irrelevant whether it is from a CBE to ABA or a ABA to CBE. For example, MCL requires 86 units for graduation and we will only accept 43 transfer units . . . so check on the rules where you are considering so you don't inadvertently end up losing ground on your completed units.