Massachusetts Law School Online grads aren’t exactly welcomed to the state’s bar exam. That’s because Massachusetts follows suit with most other states in adhering to the exclusionary rules of the American Bar Association, whose accreditation is granted to costly traditional law schools only.
Accreditation is good, right? Increasingly, ABA accreditation is being criticized for:
- Promoting a monopoly among the already established law schools by limiting competition.
- Helping professors at the expense of students.
- Continuing law schools’ preference for theory over practicality — to the dismay of many law firms.
- Favoring the rich over the poor. A host of regulations make it impossible for an ABA-accredited school to work the low-tuition segment of the economy. Schools must provide luxurious installations, limit teaching time to eight hours a week, provide research stipends, among others.
(Somewhat) good news for Massachusetts Law School Online students: No longer barred from the bar
In 2009, Massachusetts resident Ross Mitchell, a graduate of the online Concord Law School, sued the Board of Bar Examiners and won permission to take the bar. Though he failed to overturn the universal ban, one wonders if others will follow suit. Mitchell passed with flying colors.
Mitchell opted for an online law school because he was already practicing a career but dreamed to become a lawyer. Leaving his family behind was not an option. Abandoning his job was out of the question. He knew about the obstacle to take the bar for Massachusetts Law School Online students, but he was determined to pursue his goal and fight for his rights.
Interestingly, it was again Massachusetts that fought the ABA in 1995 when the Department of Justice sued on behalf of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover (not an online school), which found itself excluded from accreditation chiefly because they targeted low income students. Their vision to serve their student base wouldn’t provide for all the professorial perks required by the ABA.
It was an embarrassing moment for law education in America because it exposed the hypocrisy of the ABA. Here’s the reputable bastion and defender of law education in America being accused by the Federal Government of robbing the poor to help the rich. The settlement fell well short of bringing true equality to law education, and one wonders when will online law schools sue to break the ABA’s continuing monopolistic practices.
What does it all mean for the Massachusetts Law School Online student?
Taking the bar is no easy task. If for finances, for convenience and for other concerns you decide to fight for your dream, you’ll have to follow these steps through the online law school:
- Complete one year and take California’s baby bar exam because California is the portal of entry for now (because they allow any student to take the bar, not just ones from ABA-accredited schools).
- Get your JD and take California’s bar, considered the most rigorous in America.
- Sue to be granted permission to take the bar in Massachusetts, for which you will need very high grades and merits. (Or you can wait and see if the ABA, under pressure to change its rules now that applications to traditional schools have dropped 20% in 2013).