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Is online legal education a viable alternative to traditional schooling?

So are online options a viable alternative to traditional legal education? The ABA is considering opening up the option to allow greater accreditation for such schools. I think that’s a good idea.

By Kristopher A. Nelson in

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Last month, Ross Mitchell made headlines when he became the first online law school graduate to be admitted to the Massachusetts bar.

via Could There Be Accreditation for Distance Learning Law Schools in the Not-So Distant Future? – Above the Law.

Mitchell attended Concord Law School, owned by Kaplan. He isn’t the only Concord student to distinguish himself:

Last weekend, Concord Law School students Marjorie Daily and Tom Fleming prevailed in the Regional Competition Rounds of the American Constitution Society’s (ACS) Constance Baker Motley Moot Court Competition, which took place at the University of Michigan Law School. This qualifies them for the National Finals, which will take place at the ACS’s national meeting this summer in Washington, D.C. It is a terrific achievement for two non-traditional, part-time law students who attend our unique and still evolving online law school program.

via Non-Traditional Law Students and Moot Court.

So are online options a viable alternative to traditional legal education? The ABA is considering opening up the option to allow greater accreditation for such schools. I think that’s a good idea.

I do think the in-person aspect of law school is absolutely critical for less experienced students. But in the case of students with life experience already, law school is more about professional training than anything else. Certainly, it seems Concord law students learn to “think like a lawyer” without needing to spend 3 years in a physical classroom.

In my own experience, the first year of classroom experience was very important. Perhaps it could have been replicated via distance learning – perhaps not. But I certainly believe the next two years of class room training could have easily been done remotely, with the exception of the practical training (an externship with the courts, interning with legal aid). But this practical training does not require attendance at a traditional law school, just interaction with legal professionals.

So, while I appreciated my in-person education, I certainly think appropriately accredited and supervised distance learning education could be equally effective. But whatever the approach, law school education could use a shakeup — perhaps Concord represents at least one good new approach?