Law Students Can Now Take 50% of Classes Online

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The American Bar Association (ABA) recently changed a rule allowing law students to take up to half their classes online. The ABA’s decision, which aligns with the organization’s standards and the education limits by the U.S. Department of Education, marks a transformative shift in legal education. 

Under the change, law schools must advise students taking online courses to check whether they could still be admitted to the bar in their respective states. Some jurisdictions limit how many online credits students can take to be eligible for the bar exam.

Previously, the ABA limited the number of distance education courses to one-third of a student’s total credits. The rule restricting students to a maximum of 10 credit hours of distance education courses during their first year of law school has been eliminated. 

In January 2015, Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, became the first ABA-approved law school to begin a hybrid on-campus/online program. In May 2021, the council granted a request from St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas, to offer a total online J.D. degree.

Is Remote Learning Effective?

The impacts of COVID-19 and the shutdown of education triggered a degree of social isolation among university students. A June 2021 BMC Public Health study revealed that 90% of students and staff were affected by the shutdown and could not perform routine work or studies at their institution for one week to two months.

Many educators today consider virtual learning inferior to in-person learning or ineffective. Others see it as a great new path forward and here to stay. There is great potential for virtual learning technologies to create more pathways for students to interact and learn the material in diverse ways.

A 2022 Law School Survey of Student Engagement survey found that law students offered high remarks to online classes, suggesting that remote learning has improved over the past two years and can be as effective as in-person instruction.

Among survey respondents who took online classes last year, 76% rated courses as good or excellent. This number tracks closely with the 77% of the 13,000 surveyed students who said their overall law school experience was either good or excellent.

While it's the first time the survey has focused on online learning, previous research found that law students were largely dissatisfied with online classes. A 2021 AccessLex Institute survey found that just 43% of second and third-year law students rated their online classes as good or excellent.

Top Law Schools in the US

Getting into law school is challenging but not impossible. Individuals must have the minimum requirements to get in. Law schools generally require that you have a specified minimum collegiate GPA and LSAT scores to qualify for admission.

According to U.S. News rankings, the following are the best law schools in the country

1. Stanford University Law School- Stanford, CA- 3.81 GPA

1. Yale University Law School-  New Haven, CT- 3.88 GPA

3. University of Chicago Law School- Chicago, IL- 3.91 GPA

4. University of Pennsylvania Law School- Philadelphia, PA- 3.9 GPA

5. Duke University Law School- Durham, NC- 3.82 GPA

5. Harvard University Law School- Cambridge, MA- 3.92 GPA

The ABA will now allow law students to take nearly 50% of their classes online but advises them to check whether they could still be admitted to the bar in their respective states if they do so.


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