ABA online Course
ABA Predicted to Modify Online Law School Standards
“In the case of distance education, I think there is interest in reviewing it more comprehensively, ” says Askew. “My guess is it will probably result in the standard permitting more [distance education credits] in the future, based on what I've observed and heard.”
However, says Barry Currier, dean of Concord Law School in California (an online law school that is not accredited by the ABA), simply increasing the number of allowable credits is not enough.
Currier, a former ABA deputy staff consultant on legal education, says allowing only a limited number of units of distance education instruction would mean “it’s going to be a long time before Concord could be qualified for ABA approval.”
The ABA reviews its standards every five years. Up until 2000, it did not allow any distance learning credits to be part of a law degree, says Askew. Then the ABA began allowing traditional law schools to offer a few online courses.
“My guess is they decided to start slowly to permit schools to do this on a fairly limited basis and see how it goes, ” says Askew.
Reasons ABA Reluctant to Accredit Online Law Schools
Currier says the legal profession has traditionally been conservative and slow to adapt to change. Also, he points out, there is no pressure on the ABA to approve online law schools, since bricks-and-mortar schools are having no problem attracting applicants to pay hefty tuition bills.
He notes that 100, 000 people apply annually to 45, 000 open seats at ABA-accredited law schools. Average cost in 2008, according to the ABA: approximately $50, 000 to $100, 000 for a degree, depending whether a school is public or private.
“It’s not like they are suffering from a dearth of applicants, ” says Currier. “If they felt like they had to scramble to fill the seats, they might say, ‘What about all those great students who can’t come physically to campus?’ But they don’t feel that pressure.”
The ABA’s rules also may reflect the belief that classroom interaction is an important part of a legal education—which ABA standards-setters may not realize is achievable through online classes, says Currier. “There is a lack of awareness about how interactive, rigorous and substantial a good online legal program can be.”
Also, says Currier, the ABA has a “lack of appreciation for what distance learning can do in terms of opening access, making legal education more affordable and engaging.”
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How are online courses promoted?
Typically through the institution offering the program. One way that people get to them is through the state board. Most of them lists the providers that are approved and whose courses are accepted