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Like the pivot to video online, many law schools are seeking to pivot into the online education arena, particularly as the ABA has started approving limited hybrid online/in-person J.D. programs.
Notably, only a handful of schools offer approved hybrid online J.D. programs, but there are more than a few offering non-J.D. programs. For many law schools, leveraging non-J.D. programs to get a start in the online learning world could certainly lead to increased enrollment.
What Does Hybrid Online Law School Look Like?
These new hybrid programs require in-person attendance for a few weeks per year for intensive sessions, but other than that, students take courses online, often live, in real-time. No rolling iPad robots required.
This means that students don't have to uproot their entire lives for three years, just a few weeks each year. This flexibility, as other online education has shown, will surely be utilized by parents, those who can't afford to stop working full time, disabled individuals, and other people for whom attending law school in-person full-time just wouldn't be possible.
Bar Passage Rates
Ultimately, how the first few batches of online law graduates do on the bar exam will likely end up determining the fate of these programs, at least for the purposes of getting a J.D. from an accredited institution. But assuming the rates are among the status quo, or better, for each state, law schools offering online programs are likely to see the number of interested students increase.
And if the recent numbers reported by Forbes can accurately predict the future, it looks very likely that online law schools will be successful: "The average first-time pass rate for distance learners at law schools taking California's First Year Student Law Exam (FYSLE) was slightly more than twice traditional law schools in the state-34.8% versus 17.1% based on publicly available data for the last ten FYLSE administrations."