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On-line Law School Anyone?

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | May 1, 2011

No 614

Above the Law found an article on the internet about a 16 year old who graduated from Washington State University with a high GPA and now wants to go to law school on-line. In the inimitable ATL style, they called her stupid.

Can you really go to law school on-line?  Apparently you can, but the only State that presently accredits on-line legal education is California. It doesn’t sound like the kind of decision a prodigy university graduate would make, or does it?

Most of us graduated from college about five or six years later than she did. It appears from the article that the secret to her early success was that she took all of her college courses on-line.  Or, in other words, she completed college at her own pace — the rapid one. If she completes law school at the same accelerated pace as her prior education, she will be taking the bar exam before she gets to vote in a general election.  What’s wrong with that?

What  in traditional law school experience cannot be duplicated — or perhaps done better — on-line?

Well, there is all that interaction with your classmate as the group feels its way through the first year together like so many blind people.  But perhaps the benefit of group experience is exaggerated.  And perhaps we could have learned a lot faster if we hadn’t been exposed to so many wrong answers.

In a traditional classroom, only one student recites while the others listen.  In an on-line class, everyone can be required to present case summaries and discuss the issues they raise every time. Then, samples of really good answers could be provided for comparison.

Of course, on-line education is still in the process of catching on. But in case you haven’t noticed, the times are a-changing.  Four dollar gas means that the benefit of staying at home in front of a computer, as opposed to traveling into the City, is starting to look pretty appealing.  And then there is the cost of providing all those live lectures. Are the Socratic questions and answers really so unique that the dialogue could not be conducted between student and computer?

Legal resources, including research materials are increasingly being provided via the internet.  The electronic law school just might prove to be the better vehicle for learning to use them.

So, don’t count out the 16-year old college grad turned distance legal scholar. By the time we drive to our traditional law office to start our traditional day, she will be miles and miles ahead of us on the electronic road.





CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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