Online Juris Doctorate Curriculum

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.


About onlinelawdegree

St. Francis was founded in the heart of Silicon Valley, where new start-up companies, young entrepreneurs, and the world’s leading venture capital firms have created some of the world’s most innovative companies. St. Francis began when a group of entrepreneurs began lamenting the state of legal education and the fact that: * When most law students graduate, they are not armed with the skills they actually need to practice law and instead learn how to practice law during the first three years on the job, at the expense of clients. * Clients are beginning to refuse to pay for junior associates to get trained on the job; * Legal jobs and services are quickly being shifted overseas; * There are fewer “big law” jobs available; and * Law students are taking on huge amounts of debt in the hopes of obtaining “big law” jobs. We quickly realized that there is a growing demand for a different type of legal education and our mission is to provide it. At St. Francis, we emphasize the things students need to know to practice law, thereby supplying the legal market with graduates who have already gained exposure to a wide range of skills that most law graduates do not obtain until several years on the job.
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