I was reading a Fast Company article, Universities Inc. by Anya Kamenetz, and wondered when is the online law school coming? Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE and the man with the golden touch, will be acquiring–for a mere $2M– a 12% piece of the Chancellor University System LLC, a part of the nearly bankrupt business college Myers University, in Cleveland, Ohio. His ambition? To create a reputable online MBA program. I have always wondered why education needs to be maintained in bricks and mortar business model. My other sister, a teacher,and I were just talking about this very issue just last night. Well, you know where I am going with this. Why not law schools? I mean, think about it. The only “benefit” I got from being in a classroom environment ensconced in the ivy walls of my esteemed alma mater was being terrified of being called upon for recitation. And if the school implemented do 3D streaming, it could still happen anyway. Tell me if I am wrong, but the only benefit I see are the additional “amenities”: glee club, football, fraternities. Oh, wait. This is “law school”. It could be a matter of prestige and reputation. But if some big cheese like Jack Welch were to legitimize it, it could spring up a whole new kind of law students. Like we need more lawyers, huh?

  • Lisa,
    The problem will be ABA accreditation. I don't envision that the ABA will give accreditation to an online school in the near future.

    There actually is an online ("distant learning" is the PC term) Law School. Concord Law School is essentially an online law school in California and is unaccrediated by the ABA, so you could only practice in California.
    However, there might be a use for these types of schools for people that are in a certain industry that required a JD for advancement, but not necessarily needing to be a member of the state bar. For example, many academic law libraries require a JD & Masters in Library Science (MLS) to hold a Director position. So, someone that is well qualified through experience within a library like that (but, without a JD) could get an online degree from Concord and be able to use that to qualify for advancement. There is some limited use for online, non-accredited law schools.

  • Anonymous

    I am attending an MLIS program on-line. Online has advantages and disadvantages, what I think is more-likely is that a hybrid coursework model will evolve. The problem with just an online program is that you loose the people element of networking and mentoring and Second life just will never make up for that face to face contact. Law schools cannot afford do lose these types of connections because that is also what brings in alumni donations. However, the online model might make more sense for LLM programs.

  • Lucia Diamond

    Anonymous makes good points about advantages and disadvantages of online learning in its current incarnation. I would just add that the classroom discussions in my law school classes were quite lively. This give and take added much to broadening my understanding of the application of legal principles, such as the parameters of "reasonable," as in "the reasonable person." Such discussion is not quite the same without some in-your-face spontaneity, and it works best if you have a really diverse student body.

  • Anonymous

    Ok, correct me if I'm wrong. We have people attending online schools to become CPA's, Nurses, Economists… So whats the difference for Law Schools, "the Socratic Method". Not really. An online program is just as comprehensive as a brick and motar due to one word "focus. If every state required 1st yr law students to take a state baby bar exam as California does, 60% of people in law school would fail. Now, I would make the playing field fair by requiring all schools to only accept candidates that have taken the LSAT. Then let the chips fall as they may like california. But, unfortunately, Law School is also a business. Many of these brick and motar schools would loose funding and the ora of being a top tier school goes away. Why, people would lock to attend online law programs. What would be the difference between an Attorney who graduates from something like Concord or ALU as oppose to Princeton Online. Nothing, both had to have passed the bar exam. So don't get fooled. People who graduate from an online school and pass the bar are just as qualified as one who goes to a brick and motar and passes the bar.

  • Anonymous

    Concord Law School is owned by Kaplan University/The Washington Post, they have loads of money to staff the school with top-notch profs and faculty. Also about 70% of all the highly selected students who are admitted into the Juris Doctor program already possess graduate degrees (yes.. I said graduate degrees not just a Bachelor's) with established careers too. So the caliber of the LIVE classroom discussions is a billion times superior than the ones held in a brick-and-mortar model.

  • Anonymous

    First, it is important to note that the traditional brick and mortar law school makes law school unattainable for many people, including extremely bright and capable adults. Thus I always believe increasing access to information and opportunities is ultimately valuable for society. Second, the discussion here is also assuming that all online law schools are created equally. However, I know that California School of Law offers an interactive online classroom, which utilizes the Socratic Method just like a traditional law school. This cannot be said for all the online schools. So even a "traditional" law school education can be obtained online.

  • I feel the ABA versus Online Law School agrument is not an intellectually honest one. I say this because traditional law schools and law school students have a vested interest in belittling the online law school and student so as to create the impression that they are in some way superior. I don't subscribe to the notion that a bright, hard working student cannot get a quality Law School Education online. After all, Online Law students still have to sit for the California Bar and assuming they pass, have proven they are as qualified to practice Law as any "traditional" law student. I understand that students from highly ranked law sxchools have first pick of the so-called "Top Jobs" out there, but they also carry huge student loans and therefore are forced to take legal jobs, where they work 60 hours a week just to pay these loans off.
    To put it another way, why would anyone pay $150,000 dollars to sit in "first class" when for a fifth of the cost, you can get to the same place on the same airplane? WHat will happen when the first online law school graduate is elected to the senate?? Online law schools have leveled the playing field and the traditional old-fashioned, old guard, is shaking in its boots. : )

  • Britt

    Through today's technology the term "traditional student" is becoming more and more blurred. at Abraham Lincoln University There are live chat sessions, live lectures and numerous other means to communicate effectively.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing this blog. Keep posting more.

  • Ian

    The California School of Law provide virtual classes and a genuine law school experience at a pace and cost that is manageable for a working adult.

    The virtual classes meet each week on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, with students and professors participating in a live video conference. The professors utilize the traditional Socratic Method of legal education.

  • I would be way more disturbed by being treated by a nurse or doctor that went to online school then being assisted by an attorney that did the same. If I'm not mistaken, the requirement to become an attorney is something like, "knowledge of the law and pass the bar". Such knowledge can be attained anywhere, as long as you apply yourself to it. And the final proof would be passing the bar – which alone, should be proof enough. I agree with the comments that it's a manipulative law school issue to keep making money. And the live interaction that is missed from a classroom can be reached by live online discussions. What's more interactive than the internet? There are solutions to make online school a great tool to the people, it's just a matter of willing to do so. The law schools should just accept their loss and maybe enter the online business as well. And the Bar should inspect and accredit online law schools that meet the criteria. Raise the bar on the online law schools instead of not accepting them.

  • One of the main issues is the student's won't learn to speak in front of others as well as an in-classroom environment, which is a prime skill to develop as an attorney.

    As far the accreditation, that can be a problem as well, because non-ABA tend to have lower pass rate than ABA. Law school grades matter somewhat, but there is still no real problem passing the bar exam even if a student's grades weren't that good as described here:


    Overall though, this could be the future at some point!