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Author Topic: Online Law Grad Denied Admission in Georgia...  (Read 14150 times)

jacktrader38

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Online Law Grad Denied Admission in Georgia...
« on: November 28, 2009, 11:04:38 AM »
As two of the original 13 colonies that rose up against British rule in the United States, Georgia and Massachusetts share common legal roots. But in addressing the current-day question of bar admission for graduates of online law schools, they have come down on opposite sides.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Georgia issued a ruling that a 2009 graduate of the online law school Northwestern California University School of Law is not eligible for bar admission in that state. A year ago -- almost to the day -- the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reached the opposite result, deciding that a graduate of the wholly online Concord Law School would be allowed to take the Massachusetts bar examination.

In both cases, the applicants sought waiver of the requirement that they be graduates of an ABA-accredited law school. In the earlier Massachusetts case, the SJC emphasized that its decision in favor of applicant Ross E. Mitchell was confined to the unique circumstances of his case. Mitchell had already been admitted to practice both in California and before the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, had a stellar academic record and was valedictorian of his class, had scored well on the California bar exam and on the MPRE, and, through his representation of himself in his admission case, had provided a "positive illustration of his skills."

The applicant in the Georgia case, Joyce K. Batterson, bears some parallels to Mitchell in her prior achievements. In addition to graduating from NWCU in July 2009, she completed her master of laws degree that same month from a second online law school, Thomas Jefferson School of Law. While NWCU is unaccredited (except in California), TJSL's LL.M. program is accredited by the ABA. Batterson had passed California's bar exam for first-year law students in 2004 and the MPRE in 2006. She is a nationally certified paralegal who has been employed as a legal assistant and paralegal since 1990.

Ironically, it was neither accreditation nor qualifications that lost Batterson her bid for bar admission in Georgia. It was paperwork. The Supreme Court said it would consider waiving the accreditation requirement "for good cause shown by clear and convincing evidence." That evidence would have to include proof that the non-accredited school provided a legal education on par with that of an accredited school. The Board of Bar Examiners had told Batterson that she could establish that equivalency by providing a letter from the dean or the dean's designee at an ABA-approved law school providing an analysis of her legal education.

She provided a letter from the dean of her non-accredited school and letters from an associate dean at the accredited TJSL program. While the TJSL letters praised Batterson, they "contained only general conclusions" about the quality of her legal education, the Supreme Court said. For this reason, it affirmed the board's denial of her application. "Batterson's petition was denied because she did not provide what the Board expressly required," the court said.

As for Concord grad Ross Mitchell, he went on to pass the bar exam and, in June, to become the first online law school graduate to be admitted to the Massachusetts bar. Perhaps Batterson should consider a career in this other original colony.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on November 24, 2009 at 12:00 PM

jacktrader38

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Re: Online Law Grad Denied Admission in Georgia...
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2009, 11:10:41 AM »
Unfortunately, it appears if the petitioner would have just listened to the courts and/or read the criteria to become admitted she would have had a very fair chance of being allowed to sit for the bar.

Further, this would have been interesting as nowhere does it say she is actually admitted to practice in CA. In the case of Ross Mandell V MBE(?), he had passed both the FYLSE and the CBX on his first attempt and I remember one of the Justices' actually acknowledging the known difficulty of the CBX.

It just seems ridiculous to make it this far in a fight and be denied based on the fact that you didn't answer a basic question the court was asking.

Ninja1

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Re: Online Law Grad Denied Admission in Georgia...
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2009, 01:17:53 AM »
Unfortunately, it appears if the petitioner would have just listened to the courts and/or read the criteria to become admitted she would have had a very fair chance of being allowed to sit for the bar.

Further, this would have been interesting as nowhere does it say she is actually admitted to practice in CA. In the case of Ross Mandell V MBE(?), he had passed both the FYLSE and the CBX on his first attempt and I remember one of the Justices' actually acknowledging the known difficulty of the CBX.

It just seems ridiculous to make it this far in a fight and be denied based on the fact that you didn't answer a basic question the court was asking.

Good. Online grads shouldn't be admitted anywhere.

Who cares if MA is allowing it? They do all kinds of strange things with their laws (not LA bad, but still a bit different), god forbid most of the other 49 (well, probably more like 45) not follow MA's lead. GA shouldn't be bound to anything just because one of the other states made a poor decision, in fact, they're not. And what does GA and MA being two of the original states have to do with anything? There are no special "First 13" laws, so why does that matter at all?

And this, "it just seems ridiculous to make it this far in a fight and be denied based on the fact that you didn't answer a basic question the court was asking", how could you have a problem with that? The person in question could not follow BASIC instructions. If they can't do that right, why should they be allowed to practice law in GA? If they can't follow a basic instruction from the court, how can they be expected to practice law? The GA Supreme Court told them what to do, they failed, and now they have to eat the consequences of not following a very simple instruction. How is that at all a problem? If I fail to follow the basic rule of not robbing banks, do I have a case based on that I didn't follow that one simple rule (too extreme, I know, but I feel like it's a logical conclusion of the line of thought expressed in the thread so far)? This person isn't trying to be a fry cook, they're trying to practice law. When they fail to follow basic rules in the legal profession, they're going to end up f-ing people out of time, money, and legitimate claims on account of their own malpractice. People like this should be screened out ASAP.
I'mma stay bumpin' till I bump my head on my tomb.

jacktrader38

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Re: Online Law Grad Denied Admission in Georgia...
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2009, 04:25:34 PM »
RE: And this, "it just seems ridiculous to make it this far in a fight and be denied based on the fact that you didn't answer a basic question the court was asking", how could you have a problem with that?

No, problem here. I was just stating that I thought this lady was ridiculous... Not the ruling or the law.

I agree w/ much of what you have said and would have liked to see this lady furnish the court with what it required, then I could see how they rule on her merits (ie:her schooling). Although one could argue she has indicated her merits in her poor compliance w/ the court.

As a correspondence student myself, I don't believe many online/distance students should be able to take the bar anywhere let alone GA or MA, (2) states I could care less about.

MCB

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Re: Online Law Grad Denied Admission in Georgia...
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2009, 05:36:46 PM »
Thomas Jefferson isn't an online law school.  Unless its LLM program is online only or something?...
USD 2L

Ninja1

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Re: Online Law Grad Denied Admission in Georgia...
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2009, 02:38:24 AM »
RE: And this, "it just seems ridiculous to make it this far in a fight and be denied based on the fact that you didn't answer a basic question the court was asking", how could you have a problem with that?

No, problem here. I was just stating that I thought this lady was ridiculous... Not the ruling or the law.

I agree w/ much of what you have said and would have liked to see this lady furnish the court with what it required, then I could see how they rule on her merits (ie:her schooling). Although one could argue she has indicated her merits in her poor compliance w/ the court.

As a correspondence student myself, I don't believe many online/distance students should be able to take the bar anywhere let alone GA or MA, (2) states I could care less about.

Ah, gotcha. Fair enough. Good luck.
I'mma stay bumpin' till I bump my head on my tomb.

gallagheria

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Re: Online Law Grad Denied Admission in Georgia...
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2009, 06:26:01 PM »
The Georgia Supreme Court makes it clear that she could have been admitted had she followed the required procedure. Georgia had a state-only accredited school until recently (John Marshall, which is now ABA), and there is still a process to file if you graduate from a non-ABA school. As long as you can establish that your school is on par with ABA schools, then you can be admitted. Some schools have been around for nearly 100 years and have never applied for ABA accreditation, but have produced judges, law professors, politicians, lawyers, etc. Georgia, as well as some other states, is aware of this and thus allows the exception to ABA-only alumni.

Back to the topic, this case had nothing to do with her education. It had to do with her not following the rules.   

c22brown

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Re: Online Law Grad Denied Admission in Georgia...
« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2009, 10:44:01 PM »
Maybe Mrs Batterson should have hired an attorney?
C Brown, MBA

gallagheria

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Re: Online Law Grad Denied Admission in Georgia...
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2009, 02:45:12 AM »
Maybe Mrs Batterson should have hired an attorney?
Well, in a way she did. She is already an attorney licensed in CA. She was trying to do what the other guy did in Massachusetts. Her only problem is that she screwed up by not following the rules. as i posted above, Georgia allows non-ABA grads to practice law. They just have to apply differently. She screwed up on her application and didn't provide all the required information. then she thought she could appeal it like the guy in Massachusetts did. The only difference is that the attorney in Massachusetts followed the rules and was finally admitted to the bar. This lady did not follow the rules.

So there is no comparison about one state allowing the distance education alum to sit and the other not. 

jacktrader38

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Re: Online Law Grad Denied Admission in Georgia...
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2009, 04:54:40 PM »
Nowhere did I see any indication that she passed the CBX, only the Baby Bar. Maybe she did pass the general, but I doubt it based on what I have read.