Distance Learning Law Schools

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by JDLLM, Mar 15, 2005.

  1. JDLLM

    JDLLM member

    I am a new contributor and have been reading posts here now for several years and am always been interested helping those seeking legal education and hopefully steering some away from the bad distance learning law schools and towards the "few" actually good ones.

    I have a Juris Doctor from a distance learning law school that has been around well over 20 years in California and a LL.M degree, (Master of Laws) from an ABA approved and regionally accredited
    law school which is part of a larger University.

    Just my 2 cents for those considering distance learning law schools in California.

    Due to recent events in those "law schools" that are in reality one man operations or that really dont have a real staff; it is important to remind potential students to stay away from those
    law schools that havent been in business for a long period of time or that dont have a regular consistent record of bar passage.

    Saratoga comes to mind........and the BPPVE is in the process of shutting it down within 60 days or so.

    While the law school I graduated from with my J.D. degree is not DETC accredited, it has been around a long long time and is very reputable and I consider myself fortunate to have an LL.M degree from an ABA and regionally accredited law school.

    My personal suggeston is potential students if at all possible attend a DETC accreditated law school to better bolster their chances to get into LL.M degree programs elsewhere in California such as University of San Francisco and Golden Gate University both of whom informed me when I was looking for a school for my LL.M that an unaccredited J.D. is acceptable for admission providing the student has at least a B average.

    Further in California it doesnt matter where you get your J.D. if you have an advanced law degree such as the LL.M and am admitted to the bar.

    Other attorneys always respect those that have continued on their legal education as an LL.M in Intellectual Property or Taxation or some of the other areas since they know that such advanced study and graduation from the program is not an easy thing to achieve.

    Frankly, in my many dealing with attorneys who have their J.D. from ABA law schools; many times I wonder how they get in and how they got out, since my experience with attorneys from residential and distance learning law schools show smarter
    and better prepared attorneys.

    Not a scientific study mind you, but it is the tenacity of the student
    and the amount of work the performed in law school that makes the better attorney.
  2. MS_Blanc

    MS_Blanc New Member

    DL Law Degree: Heard of this one?

    Have you heard anything (positive/negative) about Abraham Lincoln University School of law in Los Angeles?


  3. JDLLM

    JDLLM member

    Abe Lincoln Law School

    Price is very high for the law school program.....look at bar passage rates.......I think not so good.

    I would say Northwestern California University for price and good bar pass rate and they care if you pass the bar or William Howard Taft University as they are DETC accredited.

    Both have the best professional attitude for distance learning law schools, however, have the DETC isnt necessary for admission to ABA law school for LL.M degree.

    Dean at NWCU very responsive and cares that you finish program.

    Stay with top 3 distance learning schools and you will be fine.

    In the world of law it doesnt matter if degree is accreditated unless it prevents you from practicing in another state you want too. the LL.M degree will solve some of that in some states.
  4. skywire

    skywire New Member

    How about SCUPS? What's their reputation?:confused:
  5. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    Well, according to Bears' Guide 15th edn., their bar exam pass rate was a whopping 0%!
  6. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member


    Thanks very much for giving us the view of someone who has actually "been there". This forum gets regular requests for information from people thinking abut D/L law study.

    Your experience validates the conclusions we've drawn from the statistics alone. That builds confidence!

    Did you go to NWCU? Once I finish my LL.M., I am considering their S.J.D.
  7. JDLLM

    JDLLM member

    Distance Learning Law School

    Early 90's I attended 2 years at SCUPS........buried in briefing cases mostly likely briefed 600 cases.

    Absolutely no support from professors......it was here is your final exam, good luck....then comes timed written essay exam and multiple choice just like bar exam......but they didnt, at least back then, help prepare you, pretty much like life, sink or learn to swim.

    I hated it so transferred to Saratoga.....then found that is was
    a one man show no response, no support, no help and so I transferred to NWCU where there actaully is a large staff you can talk to the Dean or Assistant Dean just by calling them up.

    Saratoga University from what the BPPVE tells me, ( I got inside information from those that I know there) has been served papers to revoke its license to operate.

    My LL.M degree was the same way with no support....Here is the work...........write these papers using perfect Bluebook Citation
    format, many classes only required papers that were 20 pages long except for the LL.M thesis which was 100 pages and 250 footnotes.

    However other classes had weekly assignments and a written mid term and a written final. Lots of work but then at an ABA law school one expects alot of work.

    So there you have it, some experience with (3) different distance learing law schools.

    From people that I know based on the Saratoga University situation where students were left out in the cold, no response, no transcripts, and a Dean with several jury verdicts against him
    for legal malpractice, etc.it seems that the BPPVE and the Cal State Bar are in serious discussions regarding changing, (and that can be a slow process) the ability of just 1 person to operate a law school, thus a REAL staff must exist.

    Additionally there may be some requirement further down the road that a school be accredited after a certain period of time
    in order for students to be eligible to take the bar.

    There is even discussion about the Cal Bar accrediting distance learning law schools that are DETC accredited thereby making it
    harder for the other distance learning law schools to stay in business.

    Dont quite understand how SCUPS could be around so long and not have DETC or NWCU.

    On the other hand, Concord has DETC and its price for the Juris Doctor program is so over priced, one could go to a Cal Bar accredited residential law school for the same price, Lincoln Law School San Jose, around 80 years or in Sacramento around 40 years, or several in Southern California, which actually would be better if onewere looking for a job in a law firm.

    Calif has too many choices and often student make the wrong ones.
  8. MS_Blanc

    MS_Blanc New Member

    In Appreciation

    Big Thanks to JDLLM and Ted!!

    Your assessments have spared me thousands of dollars and major heartache. As you know, it's otherwise difficult to get the "straight scoop" on distance learning schools.

    You have no idea how appreciated you and this entire forum truly are.

    Thank you all!
  9. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Thank you indeed! It's nice to know we weren't too far off, here.

    A thesis based LL.M. is rare for an American lawyer. Where did you do yours?
  10. JDLLM

    JDLLM member

    I had my choice of University of San Franscisco or Golden Gate University or St. Thomas University.

    Golden Gate University had (2) options, one option additional
    courses and no thesis or a thesis and something like 2 less courses.

    But the time for classes (2) nights a week was more then I could handle, 6:30 to 10:00 pm, travel, parking, traffic, etc. so I opted for St. Thomas University for the LL.M degree.

    The workload is very high, they like lots of papers in almost every course in addition to mid-term and final exams plus homework every week.

    But again just to summarize for those looking for the best strategy:

    1) Go to William Howard Taft University if you can pay a higher tuition for the DETC accredited degree or go to Northwestern California Univeristy, while not accredited, it is an excellent program and complete the J.D. degree.

    2) Go beyond the J.D. and get an LL.M degree from an ABA accredited and regionally accredited law school.

    When those uppity ups with the ABA accredited J.D. degree look down at your unaccredited J.D. degree, (which by the way will have been accepted as a legitimate J.D. degree by several ABA law schools).....you can look down at them from your Advanced LL.M Law Degree from an ABA accredited / regionally accredited for the advanced LL.M degree).

    Your degree is higher then theirs, you still have a professional J.D. degree which allows you to practice law AND trust me you will have advanced research and writing skills and knowledge in areas they most likely will not have or took years and years to get.

    I am just against State of California letting just any lawyer open a law school without a real staff...........these schools rarely stay open and when they close you will have problems getting transcripts and will never able to get a duplicate diploma.

    The quality of your education will be substandard even if you really really apply yourself and in the end you cheat yourself.

    My advice, go to a law school, one of the above..........that has years and years and years of repuation and stay away from New and non established law schools that are a law schools run from someone's spare office in their bedroom. (Many actually are like this).

    Aforementioned law schools actually have a real office in a real business building.
  11. iquagmire

    iquagmire Member


    With your LLM from an ABA school, do you think you would be allowed to teach at an ABA school even if your JD is not ABA?
  12. JDLLM

    JDLLM member

    Distance Learning Law School

    Yes unaccredited J.D. with an ABA LL.M degree will certainly allow one to teach in Calif law schools......elsewhere not sure.
  13. wcitizen

    wcitizen New Member

    LLM Admissions Requirement

    I am pleasantly surprised to hear that ABA schools are willing to accept unaccredited JD for admissions to their LLM degree. What is their rational for this? Do the JDs also need to pass the Bar Exam?

    JDLLM, how hard was it to study part-time for your JD and LLM? What kind of law are you practicing?

    All, how can I find out if Virginia would accept an LLM for their bar exam? They have a Reader program too, but I have not been able to find out much about it.


  14. JDLLM

    JDLLM member

    Many states have change law regarding ABA LL.M for admission as the ABA wants to call practice of law.

    Contact each state..........some states still will accept ABA LL.M for admission to practice.
  15. DesElms

    DesElms New Member

    Re: LLM Admissions Requirement

    Virginia Board of Bar Examiners
    Shockoe Center, Suite 225
    11 South 12th Street
    Richmond, VA 23219-4009
    Tel: 804/786-7490

    Website: http://www.vbbe.state.va.us
    Website: http://www.courts.state.va.us
    Website: http://www.vsb.org

    • Without Bar Examination

      Eligibility Requirements:
      *Character check by the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners. Each applicant must complete the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners Character and Fitness Questionnaire.
      *Received your J.D. degree from a law school approved by the American Bar Association at the time you received the degree.
      *Are not a graduate of a foreign law school (e.g., outside of any U.S. state or territory).
      *Have never failed more than two bar exams given in any U.S. state or territory.
      *Have not failed a bar exam given in any U.S. state or territory within the 5 years immediately preceding the date you intend to file your Application for Admission without Examination.
      *Admitted to practice before the highest court of a reciprocal jurisdiction (i.e., admitted to practice before the court of last resort of a jurisdiction which permits lawyers licensed in Virginia to be admitted to practice without examination in such jurisdiction.).
      *Have been engaged in the full time, active (as defined below) practice of law in a jurisdiction other than Virginia and subsequent to your having been licensed to practice law in such other jurisdiction for at least 5 years out of the past 7 years immediately preceding the filing of your application to Virginia.
      *Have been licensed to practice law in the reciprocal jurisdiction for at least 2 years.
      *You intend immediately to establish an office in Virginia and to practice law full-time (as defined below) from such Virginia office.
      *Do you expect to divide your time between a Virginia law office and one in another jurisdiction at any time within two years following your admission.

      "Active practice of law" ordinarily shall mean:
      (i) private practice as a sole practitioner or for a law firm, legal services office, legal clinic, or similar entity, provided such practice was subsequent to being licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction in which that practice occurred;
      (ii) practice as an attorney for a corporation, partnership, trust, individual or other entity, provided such practice was subsequent to being licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction in which the practice occurred, and involved the primary duties of furnishing legal counsel, drafting legal documents and pleadings, interpreting and giving advice regarding the law, and preparing, trying or presenting cases before courts or administrative agencies;
      (iii) practice as an attorney for the Federal or a state or local government with the same primary duties as described above regarding attorneys for a corporation;
      (iv) employment as a judge for the Federal or a state government, provided that such position requires a valid license to practice law in the jurisdiction in which such employment occurred; or
      (v) service on active duty in the U.S. armed forces as a judge advocate or law specialist , as those terms are defined in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. § 801, as amended, provided that such position requires a valid license to practice law and involves the same primary duties as described above regarding attorneys for a corporation. With the exception of the positions described in (iv) above, each qualifying position must involve an attorney-client relationship.

      With Bar Examination

      Examination required for all other applicants.

      Examination components: MBE and 9 state essays. MBE scores may not be transferred from another jurisdiction MPRE scaled score of 85 or higher. Your score can only be considered if you took the MPRE during the same calendar year in which you passed the general Virginia Bar Examination or within the two calendar years immediately prior thereto or within the two calendar years immediately following the year in which you passed the Virginia Bar Examination.

      Examination dates: February (deadline: December 15 of the preceding year) July (deadline: May 10). Late applications will not be accepted.

      Application/Admission fees: $275.00 examination fee, plus the cost (which can range from $175.00 to $325.00) of the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners Character and Fitness Report.

    1. Character check by the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners. Each applicant must complete the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners Character and Fitness Questionnaire.
    2. Graduation from a law school approved by the ABA at the time of graduation.
    3. Required annual fees: $250.00 for active members and $125.00 for associate (inactive) members.[/list=1]
      • Virginia Supreme Court Rule 1A:5 establishes a two-tier regulatory regime for in-house counsel practitioners who are not members of the Virginia State Bar. Rule 1A:5 requires the mandatory licensing of all in-house corporate counsel working in Virginia. An in-house counsel admitted to practice in another U.S. jurisdiction may either (1) apply to the Virginia State Bar for a certificate as a Registered Virginia Corporate Counsel, or (2) register with the Virginia State Bar as a Corporate Counsel Registrant.
      • Virginia has no specialty certification program, does not recognize ABA-accredited programs or any other certification programs, and otherwise is silent on lawyer specialization. The State Supreme Court has had a Virginia Bar Council certification plan before it for several years, but has taken no action on it.

        Virginia Rule of Professional Conduct 7.4 permits lawyers to communicate information regarding certification, provided that such communications include the name of the certifying organization and state that "there is no procedure in the Commonwealth of Virginia for approving certifying organizations" [Rule 7.4(d) and DR 2-104].
      GREGG's ADDED COMMENTS: Very few states allow an LLM as requisite for sitting for the bar or admission on motion without exam. You could count them on one hand and still have a finger or two (or more) left over.

      Moreover, the ABA has been very clear about it's very strong recommendation to all states that none of them admit on the strength of an LLM either absent or in lieu of an ABA-approved J.D., or accompanying a non-ABA-approved J.D.

      Lastly, one should understand that there is no such thing as an ABA-approved/accredited LLM. The ABA approves/accredits J.D. programs only. An LLM from a school approved/accredited by the ABA to grant J.D. degrees is not the same as an ABA-accredited/approved LLM. Rather, it's an LLM from a school which happens to have its J.D. degree approved/accredited by the ABA. There's a difference.

      In addition to ABA approval/accreditation of its J.D. degree, said school might also be (and usually is) regionally-accredited... a decided plus.
  16. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    ABA LL.M. programs


    Well, except for the U.S. Army's JAG school in Virginia...
  17. JDLLM

    JDLLM member

    Your wrong:

    "Lastly, one should understand that there is no such thing as an ABA-approved/accredited LLM. The ABA approves/accredits J.D. programs only. An LLM from a school approved/accredited by the ABA to grant J.D. degrees is not the same as an ABA-accredited/approved LLM. Rather, it's an LLM from a school which happens to have its J.D. degree approved/accredited by the ABA. "

    While the ABA does not specifically "accredite" the LL.M in the same way is excerises its political control of over the J.D. degree
    if you graduated from a law school that is ABA approved you graduated......period.

    We are not talking about individual accredited degrees.

    If one has an LL.M degree from an ABA accredited law school

    Not with a professional Juris Doctor but with an LL.M degree from an ABA law school, a degree I might add higher then the J.D.

    That is a fact, the ABA law school I graduates tells me so and I know attorneys with unaccredited J.D.'s that were admited to Arizona based on "graduation from an ABA law school, based on
    the LL.M from an ABA law school.

    You going to tell state of Arizona that they are wrong?

    Unless you are a graduate with an LL.M degree
    from an ABA law school, you are sadly mis-informed.
  18. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member


    Actually, your argument is the very reason a few states (i.e. North Carolina, IIRC) have changed their admissions rules recently to specify "graduated with a J.D. or LL.B." instead of merely "graduated" from an ABA school. This has been the rule in New Mexico for years.

    The ABA itself has adopted the position that an LL.M. or J.S.D. is no substitute for a J.D. and preached that policy to all state boards of bar examiners in an open letter. You can find the letter and the policy at www.abanet.org under the section on legal education and admissions to the bar.

    Also, of course, a distinction must be drawn between general applicants with no law license or experience and attorney applicants with a license and a few years of experience in another state. New Mexico would not admit a general applicant with an unaccredited J.D. and an accredited LL.M. but DOES routinely admit attorney applicants with unaccredited J.D. degrees and four years of practice experience.

    You, for example, would be admitted to the Bar exam based in your J.D. and experience. Your LL.M. would be irrelevant.

    I think you will find that this is the situation in far more states than will allow a general applicant to take the bar based upon an ABA LL.M.
  19. JDLLM

    JDLLM member

    distance learning law school

    Yes, you are correct many states are chaning the law, WHY, because a LL.M degree issued from an ABA law school means
    graduated with a law degree from an ABA law school.

    Not the professionl J.D. degree, but nonetheless the person
    graduated from a ABA law school.

    Incidently, some states still allow it....I spoke to them recently will have to go back in my paperwork and list the few states that still will accept it.

    Also if one has 3 year non-bar J.D. from a California distance learning law school and an LL.M from an ABA law school, Cal State Bar will accept as credit towards the 4 year study requirement the time spent in the ABA law school working on
    the LL.M degree, for those that might want to pursue that route,
    which gives them the right to say they graduated from an ABA law school, (albeit) the LL.M while they are pontificating with the rest of the general bar while practicing as an attorney in Calif.
  20. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Yes, that's basically following the same path that a foreign law school graduate would take in California.

    But there is one disadvantage...those ABA LL.M. programs are EXPENSIVE!

Share This Page