Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Southwestern Law School Launches First-Of-Its-Kind Online J.D. Program: 'It's Not ZoomU'

Press Release, Southwestern Law School Launches First-of-Its-Kind Online J.D. Program:

Southwestern Logo (2023)Southwestern Law School is proud to announce the launch of the nation’s first online J.D. program offering both full-time and part-time options with a mainly asynchronous curriculum. This innovative initiative maintains the rigor and quality of Southwestern's residential J.D. programs and provides unmatched flexibility that will enable individuals with professional or personal commitments to pursue a law degree without disrupting their careers or relocating.

Southwestern will begin accepting applications for this pioneering, ABA-accredited program in October 2023, with the inaugural class beginning in Fall 2024. Southwestern's new online program is an exciting evolution of our Hybrid Evening Program. A microsite with complete details on the program will launch at on October 2, 2023.

From its inception in 1911, Southwestern Law School has been a trailblazer in making legal education both accessible and innovative, beginning as an evening program to cater to working professionals. The Online J.D. Program marks a new chapter in Southwestern’s enduring mission to democratize legal education, cultivate diversity within the legal profession, and produce profession-ready graduates.

"Southwestern's Online J.D. Program is not ‘Zoom U,’” said President and Dean Darby Dickerson.

"It is a carefully considered, thoughtfully designed program that will allow students to interact with faculty and other students meaningfully while providing scheduling and geographic flexibility. The program retains those elements that will train students to become effective, ethical lawyers but leverages technology and instructional design to meet the evolving needs and complex lives of today’s students.” 

Full-time students can complete the online program in three years, and part-time students can complete the program in four years. The online curriculum is substantially similar to that offered in the residential J.D. programs and taught by the same nationally recognized faculty. The asynchronous format allows learners the freedom to access course materials, participate in discussions, and complete assignments at times during the week most convenient to them, accommodating varied schedules and time zones.

Southwestern has meticulously designed the program to allow online students to participate in a range of opportunities and access a robust support system, akin to what is available to residential students. Among other things, online students may participate in Southwestern’s extensive externship program (whether online or onsite at a location near their residence); clinics (whether virtually or on campus); four concentration programs; honors programs, including academic journals and advocacy teams; and student clubs. Online students will have access to the same support services that our residential students use, including career counseling, academic success and bar preparation, accessibility services, mental-health counseling, financial-aid counseling, library services, and more. “We want to ensure that online students are integrating into the Southwestern community and fully supported in their academic journeys,” said Dickerson.

“Our Online J.D. Program symbolizes Southwestern's continuous devotion to expanding access to legal education and pioneering innovation," emphasized Amy McLellan, Associate Dean of Online Education. “We're removing obstacles and opening our exceptional learning environment to a wider audience, molding the future of legal education to meet the evolving necessities of the next generation of legal professionals.”

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