Some describe the online legal education changes as being “disruptive” and a new article published on the Harvard Business Review blog describes in more detail how online law schools such as St. Francis School of Law are able to deliver premier educational experiences in a virtual environment.
Unlike students at traditional law schools who are engaged primarily in reading cases, our curriculum (particularly our upper- level, post Baby Bar curriculum) focuses on emphasizing critical thinking and problem solving by placing students in real-world scenarios that are chock full of competing business considerations, gray facts, and varying levels of legal risk. We intentionally place our students in situations that require that they work together and leverage each other’s expertise in order to arrive at the best solution.
Of course, the ABA has not warmly embraced the online law school movement and therefore accredited online law schools cannot exist given the ABA’s refusal to accredit any online law school. Similar to the teachers unions who are concerned about online education in K-12 environment, the ABA’s worries underscore a misunderstanding about the tremendous advantages that can accrue to students who pursue an online JD program. We believe, much like other innovators in the online education space, that online law courses can make it easier for law professors to provide more real-world, practical exercises.
Additionally, as DOE data demonstrates, “[s]tudents in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction.” From our perspective, any top online law school focused on admitting quality students should not be surprised by this statistic. Students who are self-motivated and ambitious are eager and efficient to learn more and absorb as much information as possible. Online law courses formats provide that opportunity, especially when they allow students to 1) solve real world problems and 2) interact and meet other students of similar intellectual caliber.