Online Law Schools Students on the Rise

LAWYER2LAWYER aired a podcast about online law schools, hosted by co-hosts Bob Ambrogi and J. Craig Williams.

Currently, California is the only state that allows online law school students to register for the Bar exam. The ABA does not accredit online law programs. Students who attend unaccredited law schools in California must pass the “Baby Bar” after their first year before continuing with their legal education.

The program focuses on Concord Law School and student, Ross Mitchell. In spring of 2008, Mitchell, valedictorian and graduate of Concord Law School of Kaplan University, was one of first online educated attorneys to be sworn to the U.S. Supreme Court’s bar in open court and passed the Massachusetts bar in 2008.

Concord Law School started in 1998 with 8 students and now, in 2011, has 1,500 students. Ellen Murphy, Program Director for Concord Law Schools’ Small Business Practice LLM, says this success is attributed to the difficulty of the “butts in seats” model used by traditional law schools, which are more expensive and may require students to move and/or quit work. Murphy also says Concord Law School stresses both ethics and practice rather than just legal doctrine, which traditional law schools focus on.

One of the hosts of the program asks Murphy about California’s 25% bar passage rate, which he says is directly attributable to California’s unaccredited law school. Murphy stresses that people who may attend unaccredited law schools might not have the same goal of practicing law as a student who graduates from a traditional school.

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