Many of us still have nightmares thinking back upon our law school experience, which was modeled on the Socratic method of teaching featured in the Paper Chase. However, law students can now have a more enjoyable and flexible experience through an online J.D. program. While many schools are offering some online courses, only two are offering complete online J.D. programs: St. Francis Law School in Redwood City, CA, and Concord Law School based in Los Angeles, CA.
While this might seem like the ideal situation for some, it does come with a cost. Currently, graduates of Concord and St. Francis are not be able to sit for the bar exam in most states. ABA standards do not allow for accreditation of online-only J.D. programs. Therefore, graduates of these online programs will only be allowed to sit for the California bar exam since California has the most lenient rules regarding attendance at a non-ABA-accredited law school. Of course, there are always going to be slight exceptions to this bright line rule, but the exceptions are few and far between.
Unaccredited, online-only J.D. programs could be the perfect fit for the student who desires or needs a legal education for their job yet has no intentions of practicing law. Additionally, there are many alternatives for students seeking a hybrid J.D. program, offering in-person and online courses. Many law schools are now trying to offer this flexibility to their students. J.D.’s seeking an online-only L.L.M. degree also have several options. Above the Law noted NYU Law’s Tax Program and Oxford University’s Human Rights Law Program as being some of the best online L.L.M. programs. (Above the Law, “The Best Online Law Schools: JD and LLM Programs” http://abovethelaw.com/career-files/the-best-online-law-schools-jd-and-llm-programs/).
It will be highly interesting to what see what online law degrees will mean for the future of legal education. In the meantime, refrain from putting on your coziest p.j.’s and fussy slippers in the hopes of attaining a J.D. from the comforts of your couch. J.D. candidates will probably have to endure some aspects of the Paper Chase for a while yet.