Online Law Schools

In response to the declining number of J.D. applicants, law schools are getting creative. The ABA is getting creative. Law schools are desperate to come up with “innovative” offers to entice prospective applicants and encourage them take the plunge into an expensive education with uncertain job prospects.

Well, except for price. Nobody wants to “innovate” on price. Nobody wants to come up with creative or radical approaches to significantly cut the cost of legal education to bring it in line with the actual salary prospects of new graduates. They’ll come up with ridiculous curriculum overhauls to try to make the useless third year seem like something worth paying for, but they won’t lop a year off of the tuition people are expected to pay. If anything, law schools are more likely to try to tack a year onto the J.D. experience, at full price, instead of getting serious about debt reduction.

Today, we’ve got a school that will be offering a “hybrid-online” J.D. It’s the first time ever the ABA has granted a variance (an accreditation exception to a non-traditional program) to a school that allows it to teach half of the credit hours online. In the stodgy world of legal education, “online” sounds new and exciting and reformed-minded.

But when it comes to price: somebody get Admiral Ackbar on the holo because… IT’S A TRAP.

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Mansfield J. Park advises prospective law students on selecting an online law school.

Which are the very best online law schools?

This is hard question because there isn’t a clear ranking system — U.S. News doesn’t rank online degree programs (neither does Above the Law) — and actual first-hand information is scarce for online law schools. There isn’t much accountability at online law schools.

Let’s take a step back.

No juris doctor program at an online law school, at the moment, is going to give you the kind of career you would have if you attended a national top-tier law school like Harvard, or even a regional powerhouse (like University of Alabama if you live in Alabama).

Indeed, there are not that many online law schools, actually, that permit you to sit for any state’s bar exam. None are, at the moment, ABA-accredited (this is important because if you graduate from a law school with ABA accreditation, you can take the bar exam in any of the 50 states of the U.S.).

There are a lot more programs that offer a masters of law online if you already have a juris doctor.

So, with all of that as a warning, let me pick a couple of the best online law schools if you are dead set on getting an online law degree. Again, below, I consider juris doctor and LL.M. programs separately.

Read more at the ATL Career Center….

Time and time again, we’ve warned prospective law students about the dangers of applying to law school without first arming themselves with the knowledge that a career in law might not be the golden ticket that it once was. And yet time and time again, those prospective law students have ignored all of the evidence that was presented to them on a silver platter, and continued on their merry way to law school.

These 0Ls don’t care about whether they’ll be employed; hell, they don’t even care how many law schools are sued for their allegedly fraudulent employment statistics. All these “sophisticated consumers” really care about are the U.S. News law school rankings.

But what would happen if a law school were to inform applicants that they may never be employed at all? Perhaps a message like that would stem the tide of willfully ignorant prospective law students….

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