Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

ABA Takes Another Step Toward Fully Online Law Schools

ABA Journal, Journey Toward Fully Online Law Schools Inches Forward After ABA Legal Ed Council Vote:

ABA Legal Ed (2023)After receiving pushback from law school deans and with many logistical questions looming, the council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar voted to continue examining what standards are necessary to start fully accrediting online-only law schools at its May 17 meeting in Chicago.

Currently, ABA standards state that only law schools with brick-and-mortar campuses can become accredited, and only fully accredited schools can apply to offer a fully online JD programs. That excludes online law schools starting from scratch.

In January, proposed revisions to Standards 102 and 306 drew the ire of 26 law school deans, including those from the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, the University of California at Berkeley School of Law and Penn State Dickinson Law, saying more information was needed regarding bar passage and employment rates of online law school graduates before moving forward.

Faculty and students at Purdue Global Law School, an online-only law school, however, had written in support. Proponents say fully online law schools could offer cheaper tuition than for online programs connected to a traditional school. The lower price plus flexibility would help create a more diverse student body and allow students in remote areas to attend, they say.

While the concept of fully remote law school now stays alive, several steps are necessary before the ABA House of Delegates would make the ultimate decision about online law schools applying for initial provisional approval.

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