Law School Discussion

Law Students => Online Law Schools => Topic started by: Marauder on June 29, 2012, 08:25:57 PM

Title: Abraham Lincoln University, School of Law
Post by: Marauder on June 29, 2012, 08:25:57 PM
Any opinions on ALUSL? I understand they were CHEA accredited last year. As a result I heard they will start offering Federal Student Loans to their law student sometime later this year. 
Title: Re: Abraham Lincoln University, School of Law
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on June 29, 2012, 09:37:51 PM
I seem to remember that there is a Lincoln Law School in San Jose (and maybe Sacramento?) which is California state bar accredited, and another with a very similar name which is not accredited. Which one is this?
Title: Re: Abraham Lincoln University, School of Law
Post by: Marauder on June 30, 2012, 12:33:57 PM
This one is the distance learning school in Los Angeles.
Title: Re: Abraham Lincoln University, School of Law
Post by: Marauder on June 30, 2012, 12:36:13 PM
In addition if you live in the area you have the option of attending class during the lectures.
Title: Re: Abraham Lincoln University, School of Law
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on June 30, 2012, 03:57:14 PM
I have no personal experience with ALUSL, so I can't speak as to the education it offers. I would, however, advise you to really think about the fact that this law school does not have either ABA of CBE (California state) accreditation. That doesn't mean it's a bad school, or that you can't get a good legal education there, but it does mean that you'll have limitations placed on your ability to practice in other states. It also means that that your degree will be viewed very differently by a lot of employers, and not in a good way.

Generally, I'm not one of those people who says "Oh my god, you're not going to (insert name of random T1)! You'll never get a job!" I've met enough lawyers from all tiers to know that that's not necessarily true. However, graduating from an unaccredited law school does present some pretty big challenges and you should be totally aware of these before committing yourself to four years and tens of thousands of dollars.

1) You'll have to take the First Year Law Students Exam (the "Baby Bar") at the end of your first year. ALUSL's pass rates are pretty low, for both first and repeat takers. Check the Calbar website. That doesn't necesarily mean tha the education offered at ALUSL is inferior, or that you can't be one of the few who passes, but it isn't meaningless either. It's something to note and to ask ALUSL about.

2) The bar pass rates are equally troubling, in my opinion. Again, it doesn't mean you can't do it, but it's legitimate to ask why are these numbers so low? I'm not talking about the 50-60% that some CA T4s have, I'm talking under 10%. Check the Calbar website.

3) You will not be able to practice in many states. Some will let you apply after a certain amount of time spent practicing in CA, others won't. ALUSL's website says that theeir degree may not qualify you to take the bar in a particular state, and you should check to be sure. Fair enough, but I think unaccredited schools should be absolutely clear and offer full, frank disclosure on this issue. The majority of states will not admit you, period.

4) CHEA and DETC accreditation are fine, but don't mean anything in the law school context. ABA and (to a lesser extent) CBE are the only forms of accreditation that matter. CHEA and DETC do not help you qualify for practice outside of CA.

5) When it comes to getting a job, you may very well be entirely on your own. My undertsanding is that most correspondance schools offer little or no career services. This may not be an issue with you. You may want to go into solo practice and be your own boss or you may already have a job lined up. If you plan on solo practice, spend some time looking into that option first. It's very difficult straight out of law school.   

Bottom line, I think a school like ALUSL can be a good choice for the right student, but I think most people are not that student. Think hard about whether or not you are.
Title: Re: Abraham Lincoln University, School of Law
Post by: Duncanjp on June 30, 2012, 07:35:03 PM
Roald offers you some excellent advice. Pay close attention to him.

I attend Lincoln Law School of Sacramento, which has only CBE accreditation. Having already established a solid career that I do not intend to abandon after I graduate, attending a state-accredited school makes sense because what I will be doing after I pass the bar won't depend upon the prestige of my J.D. That said, if I had gone to an ABA school, even more doors might have opened up in my career that will otherwise remain closed. However, just getting the license will vault me far above my lay colleagues and position me to do bigger and better things. If you can say that, then maybe a non-accredited school would serve your purposes. But Roald is right about the pass rates.  I know people who have had to take the baby bar their success rate is dismal. The pass rate is typically only 20 percent. There are contributing factors to the low percentage. For example, some of the students who have to take it were those who could not pass ordinary first-year law school exams. If you cannot pass a simple crim law final, you're going to struggle with the FYLSE. Some say that the baby bar is particularly difficult. I don't believe this is true. The fact patterns that I've seen from it are ordinary tort and contract problems, which any average law student should be able to pass with ease. But the statistics don't lie. Bar and baby bar pass rates for those who study at non-accredited schools speak for themselves. Even brick and mortar CBE schools like mine grapple with bar pass rates. I've heard that the percentage of CBE graduates who ever manage to pass the bar hovers around 70 percent. I've met people who have failed the bar five times or more. That's got to be devastating. Think carefully about what you're doing and what your goals are before choosing a school.

Title: Re: Abraham Lincoln University, School of Law
Post by: passaroa25 on July 01, 2012, 10:18:03 PM
A key reason why most FYLSE test takers fail the exam is because they are fooled into thinking that they can absorb a huge amount of information in one year by studying on a part time basis.  The amount of information you need to know to pass takes at least 8 hours a day for the entire year.  The assignments the school gives only scratches the surface of what the student needs to know.  There is nothing wrong with the online law school student.  There is something wrong with the way the whole online law school program is structured.  Let's stop blaming the victim.
Title: Re: Abraham Lincoln University, School of Law
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on July 02, 2012, 10:17:26 AM
A key reason why most FYLSE test takers fail the exam is because they are fooled into thinking that they can absorb a huge amount of information in one year by studying on a part time basis.  The amount of information you need to know to pass takes at least 8 hours a day for the entire year.  The assignments the school gives only scratches the surface of what the student needs to know.  There is nothing wrong with the online law school student.  There is something wrong with the way the whole online law school program is structured.  Let's stop blaming the victim.

Generally speaking, I agree. The model of legal education adopted by the the ABA and CBE schools, is, I think, the bare minimum that most people need in order to adequately prepare for the bar exam. Of course there are always examples of online students who pass the FYLSE and bar on their first attempts, but these numbers are very, very low. Personally, I don't think that there is any substitute for live classroom attendance and participation. I know that many people will disagree, but the statistics speak for themselves.

I've read a lot of commentary that attributes the low FYLSE/bar pass rates of online schools to the fact that online students are usually working full time, have families, etc. Well, students at ABA/CBE accredited part time evening programs are also working full time, have families, etc., and the bar pass rates are much, much higher. I believe that this discrepancy has to do less with the students, as you've said, and more to do with the format.
Title: Re: Abraham Lincoln University, School of Law
Post by: jack24 on July 02, 2012, 01:26:29 PM
A key reason why most FYLSE test takers fail the exam is because they are fooled into thinking that they can absorb a huge amount of information in one year by studying on a part time basis.  The amount of information you need to know to pass takes at least 8 hours a day for the entire year.  The assignments the school gives only scratches the surface of what the student needs to know.  There is nothing wrong with the online law school student.  There is something wrong with the way the whole online law school program is structured.  Let's stop blaming the victim.

Generally speaking, I agree. The model of legal education adopted by the the ABA and CBE schools, is, I think, the bare minimum that most people need in order to adequately prepare for the bar exam. Of course there are always examples of online students who pass the FYLSE and bar on their first attempts, but these numbers are very, very low. Personally, I don't think that there is any substitute for live classroom attendance and participation. I know that many people will disagree, but the statistics speak for themselves.

I've read a lot of commentary that attributes the low FYLSE/bar pass rates of online schools to the fact that online students are usually working full time, have families, etc. Well, students at ABA/CBE accredited part time evening programs are also working full time, have families, etc., and the bar pass rates are much, much higher. I believe that this discrepancy has to do less with the students, as you've said, and more to do with the format.

While I don't think LSAT scores and undergrad GPA are perfect indicators of intelligence and work ethic, I do think they are strongly correlated with intelligence and work ethic.  If you took Yale's incoming class and put them through school at ALUSL, I imagine nearly all would pass the baby bar.

Generally speaking, if you score below a certain number on the LSAT you will struggle with law school and bar testing. 

 alu.edu states that only 10 out of 70 of their bar takers passed in june of 2011, and I imagine that result has more to do with student quality than quality of education.  Law school tests and bar exams test a specific and narrow type of intelligence.

Title: Re: Abraham Lincoln University, School of Law
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on July 02, 2012, 01:44:10 PM
I think you're right on the money with the Yale comparison, but those people are superstars to begin with. What about the average student a T4 like Cal Western, for instance? Their incoming GPA/LSATs are relatively low, but the first time bar pass rate is something like 75-80%. Would those students pass at the same rate if they attended an online school? The question is probably unanswerable, but I have a suspicion that the low FYLSE/bar pass rates are the result of a combination of factors including both quality of students and quality of education.
Title: Re: Abraham Lincoln University, School of Law
Post by: jack24 on July 02, 2012, 02:09:32 PM
I'm sure you are right that there are a combination of factors.  Still, I think there is probably a tipping point somewhere.   I'm sure some candidates simply cannot relocate to attend a T4 school, so they "attend" a distance learning school, but I imagine many of those students at a DL school performed poorly on the LSAT.

It's been a while since I looked, but I think even Cal Western students have an average LSAT of over 150.   In my state, I don't think you have to be that smart to pass the bar, so I can't imagine someone who gets 165 on the LSAT has a much better chance of passing the bar than someone who scored 155.  There must be a tipping point though.

Total assumption here, but in a state with a bar passage rate of 85%, you probably see something like this

170+ =99% pass
165-170 = 92% pass
160-170 = 88%
155-160 = 85%
150-165 =  82%
145-150 = 65%
140-145 = 40 %
Under 140 = 18%

LSAC says that LSAT and UGPA are the strongest indicators of bar performance  http://www.unc.edu/edp/pdf/NLBPS.pdf
Title: Re: Abraham Lincoln University, School of Law
Post by: legend on July 02, 2012, 02:32:10 PM
Probably the more important factor for bar passage from an online learning school is each individuals learning style. I personally tried to do online school for a semester for a language class and I simply did not have the discipline for it. I was getting up every 10 minutes for a break, walking outside, and with that study regime you can imagine how well I did in the course. 

 Thankfully this was after law school so my UGPA was not affected, but I imagine it is difficult for most people to handle online school.  I was a solid undergrad student, law student, etc, but having the ability to just click and come back to it later resulted in me saying I will do it later every single day as it compiled and then it became insurmountable. Furthermore, the substance of that course was nowhere near as difficult as law school and I am certain I would not have made it past first year at online law school.

However, there are plenty of people that can handle online schooling and it is more related to the individual than anything to do with LSAT/GPA. This is something that each individually considering online school needs to figure out for themselves. Whether or not you could handle online schooling is a question your better served to answer than any anonymous poster on this site.

In my anonymous internet poster opinion if you can handle online school and pass the California bar there will be some opportunity down the road. However, the statistics do not lie and it is my estimation these distance schools teach you the same substantive law, but most people cannot handle online school and this is why the passage rates are so abysmal.

This is merely an opinion I could be 100% wrong, but it is certainly something worth thinking about for anyone considering enrolling in an online law school.
Title: Re: Abraham Lincoln University, School of Law
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on July 02, 2012, 03:26:41 PM
I think that all of the commentary here is correct in one way or another, and I definitely agree with Legend's comments regarding online classes. I've even had a difficult time with BARBRI's online component compared to actual class attendance. I tend to procrastinate (I'm doing it right now!), but others are very disciplined and might do fine in an online learning enviroment.

At the end of the day, however, you can't escape the objectively verifiable numbers. ALUSL's first time bar pass rate for the July 2010 CA bar was seven percent. Even if we accept that the problem is that online learning is just not for everyone, then we'd have to accept that it's apparently not for the vast majority of law students. I'm not a snob about law school rankings or even accreditation, far from it, in fact. But numbers like that indicate a serious problem with the online model, whatever the cause.

Not every class at every online school has such low numbers, at least not consistently. Concord and ALUSL itself had other classes listed on Calbar with 35% pass rates. The rates are inconsistent and the class sizes are very small, however, which to me indicates a problem. Keep in mind that these bar pass rates are after a large number of students have already been weeded out by the FYLSE. If these schools would clearly display their FYLSE and bar pass rates on their websites, I'd be a little less critical.
Title: Re: Abraham Lincoln University, School of Law
Post by: jack24 on July 02, 2012, 04:00:24 PM
I still can't believe that there is a problem with the model.    If students who did well in undergrad and scored in the top 1/3 on the LSAT went to online school, I"m sure the bar passage would be higher. 

I personally believe that the brick and mortar education I got was horrible.  It was so focused on theory and we wasted an incredible amount of time.  I'm fine with such academic exercises, but three years was too much.  I relocated after graduation, and I would have benefited greatly had I been allowed to relocate during my third year and take online classes to finish up.   It's hard to stay disciplined, but I had trouble with that during law school.  I got an A in media law one semester and I didn't buy the book or take notes.  I spent the whole time writing my law review note.  Maybe I got lucky, maybe the subject clicked, or maybe my studying was just far more efficient.

 Maybe online education isn't the answer, but law school tuition is out of control, and I think it would be terrible if employers and the ABA failed to see it's benefits because online schools are full of poor performers.
Title: Re: Abraham Lincoln University, School of Law
Post by: Cher1300 on July 02, 2012, 04:16:38 PM
I have to agree with everything that has been said.  Although some say the socratic method is antiquated, I think it keeps you on your toes - especially your first year.  There's nothing like the humiliation of not being prepared when called upon to discuss why someone was not considered a public figure in a defamation case, etc. Or if you are struggling for the right answer while everyone sits quietly awaiting your response.  The interaction is helpful because, at least for me, I learned from students who were wrong about certain issues just as much as I learned from the students who were spot on with them.  B&M schools also allow interaction iwth your professors to go over practice exams.  In an on-line school, that type of interaction just isn't available.   

I attend a tier 4 in California.  While there is certainly some truth to LSAT/UGPA in relation to law school success, the ones that aren't cut out for law school will be weeded out after their first year anyway.  The mottos at most tier fours are "easy to get in, hard to graduate from..."  So far, my experience has been that many of the top students in my class weren't necessarily the smartest, but they worked really hard.   Would they have this type of sucess at Yale?  Maybe not, but who knows for sure.

The LSAT is a standardized test that can be mastered with some practice or courses.   Law school exams test your actual knowledge of a subject.  The bar exam does also.   I'm not sure how online schools test their students, but that could also be a big issue.   Most B&M's have closed book, timed exams similar to the bar.  Does anyone know how online schools test for finals?   I've only heard of students flying out to take the FYLSE or Bar Exam.  So if the students are tested at home and allowed to use notes, that could be a big reason.
Title: Re: Abraham Lincoln University, School of Law
Post by: jack24 on July 03, 2012, 10:12:46 AM
The LSAT isn't mastered by many.  Practice courses allow you to develop strategies and help you improve your score to some extent, but it's not as if everyone who works hard and takes a practice course or two gets the score they want.

I'm not saying intelligence is the only factor in determining law school success, but it helps. 
When it comes to law school success, I'd take someone with a fantastic memory, fantastic analytical brain, and decent work ethic over someone with a decent memory, decent analytical brain, and fantastic memory any day of the week.

Work ethic is very important, especially when it comes to being a good lawyer, but there are diminishing returns in law school.  While 80 hours studying for civ pro is far better than 40, 300 hours provides little added benefit over 150 hours.

Law school success depends on your ability to identify the relevant facts, recall and identify all relevant black letter law (with a little dicta) and then apply the law to the facts in a way similar to what your professor would do.

The best lawyers have a good idea of where to find the relevant law, but they have absolute command over the facts.  60% of the job of a litigator deals with facts.  Five percent of your time is spent analyzing the law, and the rest is analysis and personality. 

Law school makes it seem like you are going to spend hours in libraries and online trying to find that one case out there that wins the day.   But in most states, you find the relevant statute, quickly digest the rules in all the cases that cite the statute, and then you try to win the fact war.

My point is that the current model for law schools does a poor job of preparing students to be lawyers.  Yes, it provides valuable training in some areas, but three years are two too many.  The whole "professor interaction" and "feedback" argument simply didn't apply to me.  I found great internships and got legal training on the job.  I learned the material on my own and I did well.  I never reviewed my notes after the first semester and I never read a textbook after the first year (with the exception of tax law classes).  Maybe online education has limits, but B&M education has limits as well.  If the online schools are honest about the bar passage rates and they have qualified professors, I think it's a joke that a graduate can't take the bar exam.  My ABA approved school allowed people to be absentee students.  Nobody cared.




Title: Re: Abraham Lincoln University, School of Law
Post by: calvinexpress on July 04, 2012, 12:49:50 AM
Any opinions on ALUSL? I understand they were CHEA accredited last year. As a result I heard they will start offering Federal Student Loans to their law student sometime later this year.

They don't allow students with 60 college credits any longer(Since January 2012). A student must have a bachelors degree or higher to attend, the same as Concord.