Is there an inexpensive, online alternative to traditional law school?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by DegreeDazed, Sep 8, 2011.

  1. DegreeDazed

    DegreeDazed Member

    Is there an online law school that will enable you to take the bar? If so, would something like that be cheaper?
  2. jts

    jts New Member

    You know how cigarettes have Surgeon General Warnings about the hazards of smoking? Law schools should probably be required to warn of side effects including massive debt and meager job prospects...

    New York Times shines a light on law school employment stats - JDs Rising

    don't go to law school - Google Search


    That out of the way, I've seen this discussed a few times before (e.g., and the answer is generally no (unless you live in California or are willing to move there in order to practice, and/or find a state with reciprocal acceptance that doesn't require a J.D.).

  3. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    US states typically require an ABA-accredited law degree as a prerequisite for the bar exam. But the ABA will not accredit online law schools. So in general, the answer is "no".

    The principal exception is California, where there are a number of non-ABA-accredited DL law schools. Graduates of such schools are allowed to take the Bar exam in California, and some do succeed every year. However, the utility of a DL law degree outside of California is generally limited or non-existent, depending on state law.

    The California DL schools are generally much cheaper than traditional ABA accredited law schools. However, they usually take longer; typically four years of part-time study. Compared to traditional law schools, they also tend to have significantly higher attrition and significantly lower bar exam pass rates. The DL law schools also have relatively low prestige, which may put their graduates at a significant disadvantage in today's weak legal job market.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2011
  4. threedogs

    threedogs New Member

    First, it all depends on the state where you intend to practice. Second - there's an exception to every rule. Here in MA, it just took one person, (that is, one lawsuit, lol) to start the ball rolling. I've also seen other articles claiming that the ABA may change their requirements so as to allow online programs... time will tell.

    Don't know about costs, though.
  5. Hokiephile

    Hokiephile New Member

    None that will give you a chance in hell of passing the bar exam. California allows it, and has the most difficult bar exam with the lowest pass rate even for ABA schools.
    There are already a bazillion threads on this. Look for them.
  6. iamthere

    iamthere New Member

    Besides teh University of California, you can attend the University of the Philippines Law school and then take a one year supplemental course in New york. I met a Filippino lawyer who did that.
  7. sideman

    sideman Well Known Member

    Is this inexpensive and online?
  8. major56

    major56 Active Member

    University of the Philippines College of Law is strictly an in residence JD:

    1. 4-year program (full-time students)
    2. 5-year program for full-time employed students (e.g., evening classes)

    University of the Philippines College of Law
  9. recruiting

    recruiting Member

    Humm, just wondering where you got your statistics? (yes it's time to try and validate your rather vague "informed" statement)
  10. Hokiephile

    Hokiephile New Member

    From the California Bar statistics.
    By virtue of being licensed in two states myself and having been an academic law librarian for ten years, four of them in a California law school.
  11. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    My wife's doing an LLB through Nottingham Trent University by distance. There are four study weekends per year on campus, but they're optional. On graduation she may be able to sit the bar in New York, or if not she can certainly be bar qualified in a number of states (but not all) by following up with an American LLM, such as the inexpensive online LLM in U.S. Law from Florida Coastal School of Law.
  12. sideman

    sideman Well Known Member

    @Steve: I know that I can't do what your wife is potentially going to do, take the LLM from Florida Coastal School of Law in US Law, and then sit for the bar in one of a few states. However, since I have a California non-bar JD, what would be the prospects of taking an LLM from Nottingham Trent and then taking the bar from one of the states in the US as a foreign law graduate? Has this ever been done?
  13. major56

    major56 Active Member


    There is distance learning LLM programs not requiring the LLB or JD. However, whether or not the Northwestern California University School of Law JD would be acceptable for LLM DL program admittance is the question (?). I can’t answer your question as regards your non-bar JD along with a UK LLM as a qualifier to sit a Bar Exam; perhaps Steve can. Nonetheless, I’ve listed a few UK LLM offerings you might want to inquire in addition to Nottingham Trent.

    De Montfort University - Leicester De Montfort Law School offers a distance learning LLM in Business Law. Neither the LLB nor JD is required; $11 - $12K for the entire program.

    UOL International Programmes: LLM (LLB or JD not required for admission)
    LLM GUIDE - University of London International Programmes

    University of Dundee LLM: (LLB or JD not required for admission)
    CEPMLP LLM - Postgraduate Courses - The University of Dundee

    University of Edinburgh: LLM (LLB or JD not required for admission)
    LLM by Distance Learning at the University of Edinburgh Law School

    University of Surrey: LLM in Employment Law (DL with three residential sessions)
    Employment Law - University of Surrey - Guildford

    Robert Gordon University-Aberdeen: LLM in Oil and Gas Law (LLB or JD not required for admission)
    Oil and Gas Law MSC/LLM Distance Learning Part-Time

    Staffordshire University Law School (LLB or JD not required for admission)
    LLM ? confirm your academic credentials
  14. novemberdude

    novemberdude New Member

    Sideman: I may well be mistaken here but I think in general you could not do this. This is probably a dangerous overgeneralization and (as you know) each state is individual, but I think that if you look into it in general there are requirements for foreign educated lawyers to become members of state bars, and these requirements typically include either being licensed in the foreign jurisdiction or holding a law degree (or equivalent) that enables one to become a member of the bar in the foreign jurisdiction. Some states seem to require both. From England the LLB would seem to be the law degree that one needs, either in combination with an American LLM, or in combination with being licensed in England and Wales, or in some cases (maybe just NY) on its own. Sometimes a requisite number of years in practice may be needed.

    There are a few bars that seem go along the lines of your credentials need to be assessed to see if they are are equivalent to an American JD holder, and at least one that says you need to get a letter from an ABA school dean (I think in the State in question) that confirms that your education is equivalent to an American JD.
  15. novemberdude

    novemberdude New Member

    At least officially there doesn't seem to be much wiggle room for a distance learning law graduate to sit the NY bar. I have heard quite a number of stories about English distance learning graduates being denied permission to write the NY bar, including a couple who were qualified as solicitors. The NY bar foreign legal qualification evaulation form point blank asks whether attendance was required, and Rule 520.6 excluded distance learning candidates.

    Now, if Nottingham Trent does not specificy modality of learning on the transcript then that's another story, but it may still require the applicant to falsely declare that their program was residential. The form does, however, ask that the applicant privde details if there was no attendance required.

    There does exist the possibility that the rules are not strictly enforced, or that graduates of a foreign law program with non compulsory residential visists are given a pass. I don't know (or know of) anyone at all who was ever in that situation. Since the form does ask for details for an external program maybe there is some room to maneuver.

    I'd be curious to know if the graduates from your wife's program who sat the New York bar attended the residencies.

    It would certainly be nice if she could sit the NY bar.

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