Law School Discussion

Has any online laws schools lately applied for ABA accreditation?

So what's the latest news on online law school applying for ABA accreditation? Has any of these online law schools lately applied for ABA approval and what ones? A link would be helpful if you can provide one. Thanks.

Re: Has any online laws schools lately applied for ABA accreditation?
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2015, 02:50:58 PM »
William Mitchell College of Law created the first part online ABA-approved JD program, starting this month: http://web.wmitchell.edu/admissions/hybrid-program/

Re: Has any online laws schools lately applied for ABA accreditation?
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2015, 11:05:43 AM »
So what's the latest news on online law school applying for ABA accreditation? Has any of these online law schools lately applied for ABA approval and what ones? A link would be helpful if you can provide one. Thanks.

My understanding is that the current ABA rules don't allow for purely online programs to apply for accreditation. The ABA would have to change it's rules first, then an online school could apply.

Even if the rules change however, the problem online schools will face is bar passage rates. The ABA requires a school's first time pass rate to be within 15 points of the state's ABA average. In most states this means an online school would have to achieve a 60-70% first time pass rate, minimum. Right now, I don't any online schools are above 35%. That is a TALL order.

 

Re: Has any online laws schools lately applied for ABA accreditation?
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2015, 05:30:07 AM »
It is a Catch 22 - online schools as such cannot provide the infrastructure or staffing to meet ABA requirements; they also attract a lot of students who are either lacking skills or commitment to make distance learning work. Distance learning may work for the highly motivated student or someone already working in the courts or law but for the average student the outcome is doubtful.  However, with continuing improvement in technology; I think DL will eventually occupy the field.  But the ABA and state bars are ruled by dinosaurs - the bricks and mortar law firm will be endangered long before they ever get around to tinkering seriously with law schools.  Case in point - 50+ separate bars in the USA in an increasingly digitized and standardized world. ULP laws are so confusing many attorneys just ignore them.

Re: Has any online laws schools lately applied for ABA accreditation?
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2015, 08:58:30 AM »
Interesting to see William & Mitchell taking that route.  I think online learning has some benefiets I know I did BarBri online, but I would always go to the lecture hall to watch the video. My school did a study on those that did home-study v. came to school to watch the BarBri videos and those that came to school did far better than those studying at home.

For the most I part I believe online learning does not work for law as the intensity of study to succeed is extreme. If you are not in a group environment you will likely be unable to know how much you need to know and there is something to be said for the Socratic method and working with classmates.

I think JonLevy makes a great point that most online schools attract students that are likely to struggle in the first place and put in an environment with less structure than ABA schools, which leads to bad results. Of course there are numerous examples of people succeeding from online schools, but it takes a special person to do that and most people don't have that commitment, which is why I think the brick & mortar approach should stay in place. However, a compromise of brick & mortar as well as online learning like the program offered by William & Mitchell makes sense.

Re: Has any online laws schools lately applied for ABA accreditation?
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2015, 09:48:49 AM »
Both Jonlevy and Citylaw make very good points.

I agree with Jonlevy that it's a Catch-22. Until online schools can attract better students they will have low bar pass rates, but until they get ABA accreditation they won't be able t attract the students they really need.

I've said this before, but online schools are going to have to meet the ABA at least half way if they want to earn accreditation. It's not enough to complain that the ABA is unfair or behind the times, or whatever. The online law schools will have to show that they are committed to meeting ABA standards by getting more students to pass the bar. This probably requires amending their own standards to include the LSAT, an undergrad degree, maybe even some kind of specialized test to see if someone can handle the rigors of an online degree. Until then, I don't think anything will change.

Re: Has any online laws schools lately applied for ABA accreditation?
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2015, 05:46:26 PM »
I agree many online schools just like to bash the ABA, but it is there for a reason and there is certainly merit to having a regulatory agency overseeing legal education.

Reading more about the W & M program I think it is a great compromise. I almost feel like a mandatory Brick & Mortar 1L is necessary as that is really when you learn to think like a lawyer. I am sure all of us had some joke classes during 2L & 3L that easily could have been done online, but there needs to be a brick & mortar component.




I keep wondering if there is a, sort of, backwards way to go about this.

Why is California the only state that will allow a non-traditional student take the bar exam?  Oregon is right up the road. Nevada is next door.  Why shouldn't they (or any other state) simply reconfigure their rules, conforming them to Cali?  Seems like it would bring money and tourism and renewed interest to any state that would try it.

Does anyone know of a movement afoot in any other state to make this a reality?

I think there are a few schools in Alabama that allow you to sit. I also know a California Bar School graduate petitioned the Massachusetts Bar to take the exam and was allowed. It does seem like a violation of the privilege & immunities clause to deny a lawyer in one state the opportunity to obtain a license in another.


I'm not aware of any movement per se, but as Citylaw said there are a few states that might allow a non-ABA grad to sit for the bar.

So, why don't more states allow it? I think it's due to several factors.

Protectionism
Part of a state bar's job is to make sure that the market doesn't get flooded and prices stay high. Is it fair or just? I'm not sure, I have mixed feelings. Nonetheless, it's a factor.

The ABA is a dinosaur
Even their rules for fixed facility accreditation are behind the times.

Performance of online schools
This is the big one. There is a lot of skepticism out there regarding the quality of online education in general, not just law schools. Most employers at competitive, reputable companies pretty much roll their eyes at online BAs, MBAs, etc. The same goes for JDs. Most lawyers (especially outside of CA) are VERY skeptical of online degrees.

Some of the skepticism is unfair snobbery, and some of it is legit. The fact is, online schools have high attrition and low bar pass rates. That's not a good combo. It means that either the admissions are too easy, the academic rigor is too low, or both.

I really don't think there will be any serious move towards either ABA accredited online education or towards more states' allowing online degrees until that changes. There is the example of William Mitchell School of Law, but that's fairly unique.

In CA it's a little different because we've always done things are own way. Although even in CA, I do see that most employers draw a big distinction between non-ABA (but state bar accredited) and unaccredited online schools. Most CA lawyers know enough smart, practicing non-ABA grads that the stigma is sort of dissipated.

As far as states like OR and NV, I just don't think there is any internal pressure from the state bar members to amend the rules and expand the educational requirements. I fact, most would probably be against it. Until that changes, I don't think outside lobbying will be sufficient to change the rules.