In these times, the reality is that the ABA could be construed as a monopoly on legal education. While it's true there is a need in the legal profession to have set standards, watchdogs, etc....ultimately it's just a way to charge law students more money. I have read posts like these time and time again and kept silent but no more.
Is a law degree from a non-ABA school worthless? Well, what is your definition of worthless? Can't practice big law, hard to practice outside of the state your non-ABA school was in, stigma; all of these, sadly, are truths of having a non-ABA degree. Ok, but why is it this way? Can it be said that overall, the law education received at an ABA school is superior? If you can say that then can you say that without smirking or can you say that while looking at yourself in a mirror? I think not.
Here's some ideas to consider (mind you I'm speaking about brick 'n mortar non-ABA schools..not sure yet what to make of online law degrees):
(1) A non-ABA school (that's worth a flip and yes...there are such schools) utilizes the SAME casebooks, hornbooks, etc. SAME COMMON LAW, same rules, same principles and by gosh...I would bet a shiny new silver dollar that students from BOTH ABA & non-ABA use the SAME study guides (canned briefs, Gilberts, Glannons..whatever). Law is law...period.
(2) Students from non-ABA & ABA schools take the SAME...hello...SAME bar exam. The SAME. Does the curve get messed with? Do ABA students get more benefit of the doubt when their essays are graded? Who really knows? Would any of the test graders tell us if they did? Probably not.
(3) Who are your professors? Of course who am I to judge...yet...think about these facts objectively. Traditionally, non-ABA schools tend to utilize actual attorneys and judges to teach class whereas ABA schools tend to use professors who mostly live in the academic realm. More philosophy, more mind games, etc. Of course there are exceptions and I know that a great deal of ABA professors are legal geniuses and have and do practice law. In the non-ABA setting, students may get more of a practical education, particularly in the state-specific area.
(4) Truth be told....yes 0Ls & 1Ls....by your 3rd or 4th semester...you can TEACH YOURSELF the law!! Shhhhhh...don't tell anyone. That's what you do in law school anyways...well plus the hazing and mind-numbing case briefing. Please don't misconstrue this as egotistical or unfounded gibberish...I'm just a simple, average intelligent guy who happened to notice the truth and will say it openly. Those of you who are in denial...think about it some more. I do not know it all and I'm by no means brilliant...just simple obervations. Does law school have it's usefulness? Yes of course..it keeps you disciplined, focused, and provides an easy way to measure your progress, but most importantly they give you the basic tools to analyze law and cases. In the end though...really you're teaching yourself. So again..ABA...what's the point? Huge student loans...the price of paying for a name..just like a pair of Levis.
You are paying for the privilege to play lawyer in big arenas. It's an old elite club where you have to pay your dues. If that's what you need or what you want...you should grasp it and never apologize!! For those of you who want to practice the noble profession of law but can't afford it or couldn't go while you're younger and now have to fend for a family...then non-ABA will let you fulfill that dream.
Believe this or not...some young attorneys with mortgage-like student loans have actually said these words when they met other attorneys who attended a non-ABA school: "Man...I wish I had gone that route".
We all come from different walks of life. Do not demean someone because of WHERE they got their JD or how much they paid for it! Walk in someone else's shoe first before you criticize non-ABA schools!
Where do I attend school? You'd be surprised actually. Does it really matter where I attend law school? No...that's my whole point here.