Law School Discussion

Mid-career professional thinking about attending a correspondence school

I have read many of the threads in the distance education section and feel like my head is on straight about this, but I would be interested in feedback.  While I think that a recent college grad would in most instances be foolish to go the unaccreditted route, in my particular situation, I don't see a downside to getting a J.D. from one of the California correspondence schools.

My situation is this:  I am a year shy of 50, live in Texas, and have spent the last dozen years working in government relations for national companies in the workers' comp industry.  I don't really see myself practicing law, but am interested in getting the degree and passing the bar in California:  1) As a credential for my present line of work; and 2) As fulfillment of a personal intellectual challenge.  While I understand that the standards of these schools are not as rigorous as traditional institutions, passing the bar would be a nice achievement for both personal and professional reasons.

My choice is not related to academics -- I was a strong student with a high GPA and believe I would do well on the LSAT if I took it. However, a traditional part-time program is not an option for me because my job requires extensive travel.  In addition, given my particular purposes, the low cost of the correspondence option is a nice plus.  I won't be borrowing any money to do this.

I don't really see any downside other than the time investment.  Thoughts?

I am new to this forum and am looking forward to the interactions.  Thanks.

Re: Mid-career professional thinking about attending a correspondence school
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2013, 11:09:50 PM »
You would seem to be an idea candidate for distance learning with your background in law. Some people like to go to NASCAR races, some people like to study law, what you do with your time and money is your business. 

Re: Mid-career professional thinking about attending a correspondence school
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2013, 01:10:24 PM »
JonLevy -- thanks for the response.  Over the last couple of weeks, I have done a lot of reading on this board, and your posts in particular have been very helpful as I have sorted through this.

Re: Mid-career professional thinking about attending a correspondence school
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2013, 08:43:49 PM »
I'm in almost the same situation.  Same age, been interested in law for years, gainfully employed, but no where near a law school.  I am currently in the midst of some other time commitments, but I have been seriously considering the California distance thing myself.  There is a possibility I will begin this fall.

I've read as much as I can get my hands on, and there are many naysayers.  However, you and I sound like perfect candidates.  I have no interest in practicing law, but I've always wanted to go to law school and passing the bar would be the proof that I really made it.  The California correspondence option is very affordable and people do actually pass the bar, although the pass rates are very, very low.  If you are serious about being a student, I say go for it!

The only question in my mind is whether or not to go through NWCU (the longest by far with one of the best track records) Oak Brooke (some of the best FYLSX and Bar pass rates) or Taft (DETC accredited).  I know the Taft accreditation means nothing in the legal world, but it does means something in the education world--low interest loans, loan deferments, employer funding, etc.

Good luck and please keep us posted.

Re: Mid-career professional thinking about attending a correspondence school
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2013, 05:26:01 PM »
I would never recommend anyone who does not want to practice law at all to go through the distance learning route.  You will likely not make it past the First Year Law Student Exam. and definitely not pass the bar. You have to really want the bar license bad to go through all the pain and suffering distance learning requires. Instead I recommend an online Masters in Legal Studies from a regionally accredited school like Kaplan University.

Having and maintaining a law license makes you an attorney - so unless you passed the bar and immediately went inactive, there is no such thing as not practicing law.

Re: Mid-career professional thinking about attending a correspondence school
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2013, 10:43:01 PM »
Delta, I am primarily looking at Northwest.  I think that the primary key to bar passage, assuming that the program is adequate, is my own self-discipline, and I am pretty confident in that, so I am focused on looking at the lower cost schools. I don't want to do Oak Brook, because their ideological commitments are different from my own, and it would just annoy me.  :)  Taft looks good at a bit higher cost. 

Re: Mid-career professional thinking about attending a correspondence school
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2013, 01:23:22 PM »
If all you want is a legitimate law degree and not to practice; you should check out some of threads here on online schools in England. A law degree from University of London for example is going to look a lot better than a JD from Taft. 

Re: Mid-career professional thinking about attending a correspondence school
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2013, 12:00:16 AM »
I agree with Jonlevy, the OP seems like the ideal candidate for a correspondance/online degree.

I have respect for people who possess the intelligence and discipline to learn the law essentially independently, pass the baby bar, and then pass the CA bar. Frankly, I find it far more impressive than graduating from an ABA school and being admitted automatically by degree privilege, or passing a bar exam with a 90% first time pass rate. I've had the pleasure of meeting few graduates of CA correspondance schools, and they struck me as highly motivated, goal oriented individuals. It's not for everyone, but it sounds like the OP fits the mold.

IIRC, Taft, Northwest CA, and Concord have the highest FYLSE/bar pass rates. I'd probably be inclined to look at those schools. There a several others that have abyssmal pass rates. I'm not entirely sure what that indicates, but I'd be wary. Check out the CA bar website for statistics. The University of London option is interesting, and (as Jonlevy said), probably carries more name recognition than any of the CA correspondance schools. The only issue is that you'd have to jump through some additional hoops in order to take the bar exam.

Good Luck!

Re: Mid-career professional thinking about attending a correspondence school
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2013, 06:29:59 PM »
As I sit here and type this thinking back on the challenges the last two years have been, I have to say it has all been worth it.  I'm not the sharpest knife if you get my point, my LSAT score from 2002 would not get me into the brick and mortar school I dreamed of attending and so I considered Concord back in 2002 but waiting was better until my youngest son graduated high school. I am now a third year student at Concord, passed the FYLSE on my second attempt (barely) but my grades suffered as I juggled studying for the FYLSE while staying on track with my second year studies. 

It is hard to juggle school and a full time job, BUT I WILL pass the bar.  My dream is coming true and I turned 50 this year.  So, if you want to be a LAWYER.  Go for it!  Don't think it's not worth it, enjoy the learning, love the cases, the issues but most of all 2 years from now for me - I'll be living MY dream which I put off for so many years. I admire all my professors too, all of them have practiced and they really encourage and help us when needed.

Best wishes to all who want to go back and learn - the law IS exciting.

Re: Mid-career professional thinking about attending a correspondence school
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2013, 07:27:51 PM »
There are certainly pros & cons to attending a correspondence school.  First off law school is difficult and if your juggling extensive traveling with the study of law you may not do well. Also as I understand it every non-aba school requires you to take the first year law students exam already mentioned in this thread. I believe you get three chances to pass this and if you don't do it on the third try your out.  I went to an ABA school and do not know how easy or difficult this exam is, but I can tell you the California Bar Exam was extremely difficult I did pass it, but I studied 10 hours a day weekends included for 2 months straight to pass. 

What I would recommend you do is take the LSAT nothing to lose there if you do really well it is possible some of these correspodence schools will give you a significant scholarship, which could save you thousands of dollars.

Another thing to consider is that you live in Texas and although there is a lot of debate non-aba schools really only let you sit for the California Bar I know some exceptions exist, but if you plan on staying in Texas a J.D. without a Texas law license will not serve you that well.

If you really love to study law want to take a shot at it and are ok with spending a few thousand dollars knock yourself out. It may or may not work out and if your juggling a full-time job with extensive travel odds are against you not to say it can't work out, but it will be tough.

My personal belief is that if you want to be a lawyer you should go in 100% and go full-time I don't think part-time ends up working for the majority of people. Again, I know there are exceptions but just my two cents as an anonymous internet poster. If you are going to undertake something as rigourous as becoming a lawyer I think it is better to dedicate yourself to it. Generally speaking those that work and go part-time don't end up finishing, but this is not to say you cannot be the exception. Good luck whatever you decide.