Law School (DL vs. B&M, RA vs. ABA)

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Maniac Craniac, Mar 25, 2010.

  1. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    With the intention of letting that 6-year-old hijacked thread die... VOILA, a thread dedicated to this topic.
  2. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    If you owned your own company (or something like that) and wanted to have a good grounding in the law then I could understand getting a non-ABA law degree. Otherwise, with very few exceptions, these degrees are not very useful. I know that whole thing about California blah, blah, blah, but the fact is that most of us don't live in California and we never will. If you can't take the bar exam where you live then a law degree is not worth very much (outside of that whole personal accomplishment thingy).
  3. TonyM

    TonyM Member

    I agree that a distance JD isn't likely to lead to a big law career, but, like you say, it can be useful in other pursuits. If you're in a business that's heavily regulated or requires frequent policy updates then a JD, sometimes more than a bar card, can be quite useful. I know some JDs in law enforcement who make good use of their legal training. One guy uses it as a law enforcement tool with things like warrants and protective orders. Another guy deciphers the new laws and court cases and keeps the department on track with training and policy. There are so many attorneys these days that even a bar card won't guarantee a salary. A JD, however, seems like a nice terminal degree for some other non-attorney careers like law enforcement.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 25, 2010
  4. Spinner

    Spinner New Member

    Seems like a big cost--out-of-pocket and opportunity costs--in relation to the rewards most would receive afterwords. But to each there own.
    If you're interested in the law, why not learn only the subjects you're interested in instead of the whole law school curriculum (criminal law, probate law, etc.) Also, look at the University of London for distance courses on single legal issues.
  5. major56

    major56 Active Member

  6. major56

    major56 Active Member

  7. major56

    major56 Active Member

  8. sideman

    sideman Active Member

  9. soupbone

    soupbone Active Member

    I thought the MJ was like the LLM and had to be completed post-JD. Interesting...thanks for posting this.
  10. John Bear

    John Bear Senior Member

    What about private study with a lawyer or judge?

    From the data Bill Dayson posted on the former thread (thank you!), roughly a third of distance students pass the first year law student exam, and roughly a third of those later pass the Bar. A third of a third is about 10%.

    Yes, that is low . . . but, my goodness I used to get a lot of wildly enthusiastic letters from readers who had done it, typically explaining how they could not possibly have done it any other way.

    But speaking of other ways: what about private study with a lawyer or judge? Have I missed the data on this approach which, when I used to write about it in Bear's Guide, was possible in a dozen or more states, but very little used. Yet, remarkably, I have read that this "Abraham Lincoln" approach accounted for half of all practicing lawyers as recently as 1955. Are these data available?
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 26, 2010
  11. CS1

    CS1 New Member



    The American Bar Association is the main accreditation body for law schools in the United States. The law schools that fall under its regulation are subject to the rules and standards as set out by the ABA (“ABA Law Schools”). Unaccredited law schools in California fall under several main categories: correspondence, distance learning or fixed facility (“DL Law Schools”).

    The California Committee of Bar Examiners (the “Committee”), regulates both ABA Law Schools and DL Law Schools. All DL Law Schools must be registered with the Committee in order for its graduates to sit the California bar exam.


    Can a student enrolled in a DL Law School effectively learn the law?


    Pursuant to The Guidelines for Unaccredited Law School Rules, as adopted by the Committee, Rule 4.204 (H) states: A “registered law school” is an unaccredited California Law School that meets the requirements of these rules and that has been registered by the Committee. Further, that all DL Law Schools must meet the following “Standards” under Rule 4.240:

    A) Lawful Operation
    B) Integrity
    C) Governance
    D) Dean & Faculty
    E) Educational Program
    F) Scholastic Program
    G) Admissions
    H) Library
    I) Physical Resources
    J) Financial Resources
    K) Record & Reports
    L) Equal Opportunity & Non-Discrimination
    M) Compliance with the Committee requirements

    In addition, Rule 4.242 provides for an “Annual Compliance Report“, along with “Inspections“, under Rule 4.244. Moreover, each DL Law School must also meet state regulations and local business licensing requirements under law.

    There is a long standing custom and tradition in California with respect to the Committee recognizing non-traditional paths of law study and allowing general applicants of such study to sit the state bar exam, such as, unaccredited law school graduates that have completed four years of study; applicants who have received their education under the guidance of a licensed attorney or judge chambers, or combination of those methods. See: Title 4. Admissions and Educational Standards (California Committee of Bar Examiners).

    That the inherent jurisdiction to practice law in the State of California falls under the California Supreme Court, and the Committee of Bar Examiners oversees the requirements for admission to practice law.


    ABA proponents contend that the study of law can only be accomplished in a traditional law school setting and that the study of law through distance education (which extends to correspondence) is regarded as an inferior method of education, with little value and acceptance among members of the legal community.

    To adopt this line of reasoning would mean that the distance learning courses offered by the ABA’s Center for Continuing Legal Education have absolutely no educational value and that the lawyers enrolled in those distance learning programs are receiving an inferior legal education. See:

    Continuing Legal Education (CLE) is a requirement for both lawyers and paralegals in the State of California. Most CLE courses are delivered via distance learning by not only the ABA, but also local bar associations, law schools, and other CLE online providers.

    There is simply no evidence to support the position that the study of law cannot be effectively accomplished through distance learning. Moreover, a large number of accredited universities are utilizing online education as a successful teaching method.

    Distance education has a long and colorful history and one of the oldest correspondence law schools is Blackstone School of Law that goes as far back as the 1890’s. Originally based in Chicago Illinois, the Blackstone Institute offered a bachelor of laws degree (LL.B) to all of its graduates, some of which went on to pass the California bar and practice law.

    Modern American Law - A Systematic and Comprehensive Commentary on the Fundamental Principals of American Law, was the main series of text books used by Blackstone School of Law, which evolved over the years to reflect changes in the law. Eugene A. Gilmore, a professor of law and member of the American Bar Association, was appointed as the editor-and-chief of what became known as Modern American Law, which were written by prominent members of the legal field: judges, members of the bar, law school professors and jurists.

    Blackstone School of Law later moved its operation to Dallas, Texas, and was sold in 2001 to Direct Learning Systems, Inc., which presently delivers a paralegal program solely through distance learning and is accreditated. See:

    Since then, many correspondence law schools have delivered law studies through distance education. Some DL Law Schools like Taft Law School and Concord Law School are nationally accredited through the Distance Education and Training Council, which receives its authority and recognition under federal law, specifically, 34 C.F.R. 602 (relating to the U.S. Secretary’s Recognition of Accrediting Agencies).

    With the advent of online lectures, interactive media, qualified instructors, and online legal research resources (Lexis Nexis and Westlaw), there is simply no reasonable basis for concluding that the study of law cannot be accomplished through distance education.

    There are many good reasons for people to pursue a distance leaning law school program, some of these reasons are:

    a) the lower cost of DL Law School programs, which is an important consideration for those that have limited financial means.

    b) older students that work full time and have to support families, which would make it impossible for them to attend a traditional law school program.

    c) disabled veterans, who desire to take up studies, but are simply not in a position to attend a traditional law school.

    d) people who grew up in poverty and that did not have the opportunities to pursue higher education, but that have a desire to study law and improve their economic situation.

    e) or those that would just like to study law and use it in their chosen field, which may be unrelated to law.

    At the very core of Modern American Law, which in many ways reflects the development of distance learning in America, it says:

    “To know and assert one’s legal rights is a duty of moral self-preservation -- ignorance and neglect of those rights is moral suicide. The security of every individual as well as of society lies in a wise and equitable system of law, thoroughly understood by every one and impartially administered by the courts of unimpeachable integrity. To the system of law under which we live is every citizen’s paramount interest and duty, not merely that he may protect his own private interest and duty, but also that he may be able efficiently to preserve his government and take an intelligent part in its administration and improvement.”

    I believe that the Committee’s position on DL Law Schools mirrors the higher principals of law by opening the door to legal education, while also observing established custom and protocol for those schools that fall outside the ABA’s custody and control.

    That the California bar exam in and of itself is sufficient in determining who is qualified to practice law, be it from an ABA Law School or DL Law School.

    That the decision of pursuing a non-traditional path of law study must be left to the individual and that the individual assumes the risk of failure and likewise benefits to the extent of success as it applies to such law study.

    That how an individual chooses to spend their money on the study of law - or whether they will fail or succeed - is not the business of the ABA nor schools under its control, but that the choice is solely with such individual.

    That those general applicants from a DL Law School that have successfully passed the California bar exam, would have never had that opportunity, had they not enrolled in a distance learning law program. .

    To place the regulation of law schools entirely in the hands of the ABA would be tantamount to a monopoly of the legal educational system and would infringe on the long standing western custom of graduates of non-traditional law schools sitting the California bar exam.


    At the heart of all education is the empowerment of the individual, which I believe is at the core of every distance learning law program. Ultimately, the decision to study law through a distance learning medium must lie with the individual, which is consistent with the principles of autonomy in a free society, absent arbitrary interference of local custom and tradition with respect to the study of law.

    Thus, it is my position that a student enrolled in a DL Law School can effectively learn the law and go on to become a productive member of society, which echoes the very spirit and foundation of the American dream.

  12. major56

    major56 Active Member

  13. major56

    major56 Active Member

    Not the M.J., but Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center offers an online Master of Science Degree in Health Law degree, a MS degree in Education Law, and a MS in Employment Law.
  14. sideman

    sideman Active Member


    That was an inspired post.
  15. soupbone

    soupbone Active Member

    Very unique indeed. I don't know that I've ever known someone who holds a MJ. I wonder what career oppurtunities would come along with that type of degree. It looks like the JD but without the ability to practice law. Health law does not interest me in the least bit...nor does aging/elderly law. Now if they had an MJ that was specific to Homeland Security/Emergency Preparedness I might look into it. Hmmm...
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2010
  16. major56

    major56 Active Member

    Another appeal toward the M.J. might be that the degrees are awarded by ABA law schools … pretty neat.
  17. BlueMason

    BlueMason Audaces fortuna juvat

    Agreed - a great post.

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