Approved Online Law Schools
ABA approved online law schools do not yet exist.
ABA approved online law schools don't exist yet because the ABA Standards for the Approval of Law Schools currently do not allow for an online law school Juris Doctor degree program. ABA Standard 306 allows an ABA approved law school to award up to 12 credits toward the Juris Doctorate degree for distance education courses, but does not set any guidelines or standards for online law schools. ABA accredited law schools can only grant four credits a semester and students cannot take online law school classes in their first year of law school.
Donald Polden, Dean of the Santa Clara University School of Law said "There's growing comfort with online education as a useful and meaningful method of offering a part of the law school curriculum," he says. "[But], for a high quality program, you have to have students together because so much of learning happens in that interaction in the classroom space."
That is exactly what the California School of Law’s does. Their virtual classes meet each week on Tuesday and Thursday evenings with students and professors participating in a live video conference in which they discuss and debate the law as if they were physically in the same room. In these classes students and professors utilize the traditional Socratic Method. The virtual classes at the California School of Law provide a genuine law school experience at a pace and cost that is manageable for a working adult.
For over a hundred years all of the law schools in the United States have taught using the Socratic question and answer method, and all of the ABA approved law schools in the United States teach by the Socratic Method. Under the Socratic Method system of legal instruction, before each class students are assigned cases and statutes to read and brief. A crucial part of the learning process, students are questioned by the professors, sometimes rigorously with follow-up questions, regarding the facts, rule of law, and the court’s reasoning.
At the California School of Law students have over 270 hours of class time a year and can form study groups that can meet at any time. And with Westlaw the students have access to the largest law library in the world.
The legal profession has traditionally been conservative and slow to adapt to change. Also, there is no pressure on the ABA approved law schools, since bricks-and-mortar schools are having no problem attracting applicants to pay their hefty tuition. More than 100,000 people apply annually for 45,000 open seats at ABA approved law schools. Average cost of law school is upwards of $50,000 to $150,000 for a degree, depending whether a school is public or private.
In conclusion, the ABA continues to remain behind the technological curve when it comes to approving online law schools that use technology to facilitate legal education. Online law schools provide students with access to a law degree which they may have never been able to obtain due to outrageous tuition at traditional brick and mortar law schools and the additional costs associated with relocation. Luckily, for this new generation of law students, schools like the California School of Law are utilizing technology without sacrificing the benefits of traditional legal pedagogy.
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California School of Law
5276 Hollister Ave, Suite 262
Santa Barbara, CA 93111