« on: May 05, 2013, 10:56:15 AM »
I wanted to write this post because I have been researching law schools for about 1 year now in preparation to attend law school. I would be considered a Non-Traditional student as I have a BS from 2002 and worked in corporate america for 8 years only to leave and open my own business. My business has started off successful and hopefully will continue the trend. Now is time for me to fulfill my dream of going to law school and becoming a practicing attorney while my wife and her family take the business and run with it, they already do an excellent job. My problem lies in that the closest ABA approved law school is too far away to attend full time without moving my family to a location many hours away. Part-time at an ABA is not really an option either due to travel restraints. So during this time I have been researching online law schools and the education they provide and processes one must jump through to become a licensed attorney. As we all know at this point in time CA is the only state to allow online graduates to sit for the bar exam. I think this is crazy, in today's world we allow people to get MBA's online, Nursing Online and Engineering online to name just a few. There are many more than this and society does not have a problem with them people in active practice. They may have there own society similar to the ABA but it does not prevent them from fulfilling a career in their studies. In my opinion the ABA is an organization used to control the political aspect of practicing and obtaining a universal law degree. States could come out on there own and say the heck with ABA accreditation, if you went to law school and graduated then you can sit for our bar exam, but they will never do that as it is to cumbersome and would cause to many differences between states and judging quality education obtained. So to make things easier the ABA should revise their accreditation standards so that all states would universally accept approved online degrees. For all of the people who graduated from an ABA school, congratulations and we are proud of you as it is no easy accomplishment, however you are no better than any of the rest of us who do not have rich parents or have to work for a living in a small town with no access to local law schools. The socialization aspect that they claim you gain in B&M institutions is completely inaccurate. If you went through undergraduate studies you received socialization. If you went into the workforce after college, you received proper socialization skills. There is no excuse they can use on this point, its a moot point. As far as the Socratic method, there is one online law school that I know of that uses this method, however there is much discussion on this method between legal scholars and others as well. So hard evidence that this method works better than other methods. So before you start bashing my post step back and really think about it. Just because you spent over 100k obtaining a legal education does not make your opinions better than others, so think before you write. Anyway, my point of this article was to share this information with this forum. I recently wrote a letter to the ABA regarding distance education. I know compared to what has been the norm for 50 years the ABA has been considered to have made leaps and bounds with the accreditation process and I applaud them for that. However, the US society has made leaps and bounds in all aspects of growth through the past 50 years and they have been pretty quick to do so. We cant say the same for the ABA growth. I find it hard to believe that it is for no other reason than monetary value. So below is the response that I got from the ABA in regards to distance education and where they plan on heading with this in the coming future. To sum it up they say they will do the research and revise standards as they see fit. So in short, in another 50-100 years they may get to the point of looking beyond the money and political aspirations and give law schools a few more credit hours that they can take online.
"A few years ago the accreditation standards were revised to clarify and to expand "distance learning" options. The changes recognized that settings other than the traditionally face-to-face instruction are becoming more and more a part of legal education. The move in that direction can best be described as evolutionary. As more latitude is permitted under the standards variants are sure to emerge that will require further re-examination and, if deemed appropriate, revision of the standards.
The standards do not yet embrace a educational experience that is all, or even mostly, via the internet. Even though such an educational setting might be sufficient to prepare an individual to pass a bar examination, the current controlling view is that internet learning alone is not sufficient to provide the breadth of educational experience to prepare someone to be an effective member of the bar.
The bar examination is but one measure that one is prepared to practice. It is clear that technology is providing exciting new opportunities for learning and for preparing for a professional career. Our standards must recognize these new opportunities and balance them appropriately with traditional techniques. That will be the challenge ahead, but change will be always viewed by some as moving too fast and by others as moving to slow."
This was the response that was received from the Legal Education department of the ABA. Not exactly what we are looking for. I encourage all of you who would like to get an online legal education to send the ABA a message through general comment on there website. If they get millions of responses regarding distance education then they have to at least take it into better consideration. As of now there are still students who are willing to take 100k - 175k of debt to get that ABA accredited school education, so no incentive for either to adjust the standards.