Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Law Schools Shift Classes Online Amid COVID-19, But Can They Do It Successfully?

Pepperdine, like many universities and law schools, is shifting to online classes in response to the COVID-19 virus. So this article is very timely:  Karen Sloan (, Law Schools Shift Classes Online Amid COVID-19, But Can They Do It Successfully?:

2U Pepperdine 2Law schools in four states so far are canceling in-person classes and moving courses online amid the spread of the coronavirus. But legal education as a whole is less prepared for that shift than many other graduate programs due to its relatively slow adoption of online learning.

The American Bar Association in recent years has increased the number of credit hours schools are allowed to deliver online, but fewer than 10 law schools have J.D. programs that are mostly online and many law faculty have never taught a distance education class.

Syracuse University College of Law’s JDInteractive program—launched in January 2019—was the second online program to be offered in the U.S., following Mitchell Hamline School of Law’s hybrid program in 2015.

Professor Nina Kohn spearheaded the creation of JDInteractive and has taught many of its courses. talked with Kohn Tuesday to discuss how law schools can quickly move to an online format, the mistakes law professors often make online, and whether the coronavirus will usher in a new era of online law teaching. Her answers have been edited for length and clarity. ...

What are some of the most common mistakes you see when professors are translating legal education to the online format? One pitfall is not understanding the different modalities of online education, and assuming it has to be self-paced and not live. That’s the biggest pitfall I see because then people think online education has to be something dramatically different than what they are doing in their classroom.

Another pitfall I see is faculty thinking online means not interactive. The good news is that our technology today is at a place where you can teach live online in a fully interactive manner. We need to make sure faculty aren’t setting their expectations for themselves too low and thinking this is just an opportunity to simply lecture at students, as opposed to engaging students.

Another pitfall is not using the right technology. The good news is that the technology you need to use is very simple: You need a good web cam. You need a pair of headphones. And you need an extra monitor. Those are all small lifts. But without those small lifts, you can end up with a really unsatisfactory teaching and learning experience. And of course you need to make sure your faculty are teaching in a setting that is conducive to professional work. We always make sure our faculty are teaching from locations that are either a well-set up office on campus or a well-set up office off campus, so it’s not distracting.

For complete TaxProf Blog coverage of the coronavirus, see here.

Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink


The ABA quickly relaxing restrictions is a clear signal of the artificial nature of the "need" for in person classes.

Your analysis is on point that students and professors will need to take common sense steps to ensure they are prepared. Otherwise, any threat to the quality of instruction or learning is unfounded.

Posted by: JP | Mar 16, 2020 9:59:16 AM