An ABA accredited online law schools does yet exist. ABA accredited online law schools don’t exist because the ABA does not allow for an online class time. ABA Standard 306 only allows an ABA approved law school to award 12-16 credits total, only four credits a semester and students can’t take online law school classes in their first year of law school.
The State Bar of California allows online law schools, in order to provide alternative students an opportunity to receive a legal education. One online law school that provides this opportunity for an online law degree is the California School of Law.
In reviewing ABA accredited online law schools standards, including “Standard 306,” which applies to online law schools and receiving an online law degree. Bucky Askew, the ABA’s staff consultant on legal education, predicts that the ABA will, indeed, broaden its standards for online law schools when it addresses the issue next year. “In the case of distance education, I think there is interest in reviewing it more comprehensively,” says Askew. “My guess is it will probably result in the standard permitting more [distance education credits] in the future, based on what I’ve observed and heard.”
The ABA reviews its standards for ABA accredited online law schools every five years. Up until 2000, it did not allow any distance education credits to be part of a law degree, says Askew. Then the ABA began allowing traditional law schools to offer a few online courses. “My guess is they decided to start slowly to permit schools to do this on a fairly limited basis and see how it goes,” says Askew.
Donald Polden, Dean of the Santa Clara University School of Law and chair of the ABA’s Accreditation Standards Review Committee, says he anticipates that the ABA could expand the current 12-hour threshold, though he can’t foresee a future where the classroom setting is marginalized at ABA accredited law schools. “There’s growing comfort with online education as a useful and meaningful method of offering a part of the law school curriculum,” he says. “[But], for a high quality program, you have to have students together because so much of learning happens in that interaction in the classroom space.”
The California School of Law provides an online law school experience similar to that at ABA law schools. At the California School of Law the virtual classes meet on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, with students and professors participating in a live video conference as if they were physically in the same room. In class, the Socratic Method of legal education used. go to https://californiaschooloflaw.com/ for more information.