Following our discussion in class this week, I wanted to do some further research into what options for online courses currently exist in the higher education sphere, and where the market for online education seems to be moving. One of the first articles that I came across dealt with a type of school that I had not considered as being a key target for online education– law schools. According to this article, the American Bar Association itself has initially approved a proposal to allow for more credits of law school to be taken online.
Specifically, the proposal “increase[s] the amount of distance learning that a law school could allow as part of its J.D. program.” One-third of a school’s required credits for graduation could be earned through “distance learning.” In addition, the proposal removes a currently existing prohibition on distance learning courses for 1Ls. The proposal will be put out for Notice and Comment in Washington, D.C. on April 12th.
I found these developments to be impactful for several reasons. While I think that online education for undergraduate institutions is quite common, I had not specially considered the advantages of online learning for law students. Upon thinking about this, I have realized that online education for law students could help to confront some of the issues with law education that we mentioned in class. Particularly, if these online courses allowed for some sort of tuition deduction, this could help students avoid some amount of the burdening student debt that seems to affect an exorbitant number of law students. Another potential advantage for law students would be that if they are able to take courses on their own time online, that may leave more time to get hands-on work experience during typically working hours, rather than being stuck in class.
While I personally think that the in-person law school experience is invaluable, especially as a 1L, I can imagine a plethora of situations where being able to take online courses in law school could help potential lawyers financially and socially.