New York Distance Law Schools: How Distant?

New York Distance Law Schools offer flexible hours and cheaper tuition but don’t get graduates to the bar easily because state officials follow American Bar Association norms which have yet to catch up with the times.

Under current rules, if you’re only option are New York Distance Law Schools, you’ll have to first practice law in California for five years to later take the bar in New York. (Forward-looking California allows online law school grads to take its bar. New York does not. But it allows experienced lawyers from other states to take its bar.) For NY options to the bar, check

Rumblings for reform to include New York Distance Law Schools?

In January, state bar officials weighed cutting law school down to 2 years in an effort to lighten the student loan debt burden that frequently tops $100,000. It not only makes sense, it also makes dollars, considering that the dwindling law job market represents less opportunity to pay back that loan.

New York Distance Law Schools
Daniel Rodriguez

While this wouldn’t increase the number of available jobs, a two-year option would allow many newly minted lawyers to pursue careers in the public interest or to work at smaller firms that serve lower- or average-income Americans, thereby fulfilling a largely unmet need,” wrote Daniel Rodriguez, dean of Northwestern University School of Law in the New York Times. “As it is now, many young lawyers say they would love to follow this path but cannot afford to because of their onerous debts.”

Following California’s lead to allow the online option also makes sense. While in theory accreditation is good, the ABA’s regulations are excessive, benefiting mostly the tenured law professors’ paycheck, not the student. Most lawyers aren’t going to want to make it easier for future generations, since they are future competitors. Only the State officials can act on behalf of the good of the students — and the good of the state.

The facts of law:

  • Two years of law school is 60 credits
  • Northwestern University School of Law and New York University Law School are preparing curriculum to attract law students to the optional 3rd year, should the 2-year-to-bar rule be adopted.
  • At the January discussion, a Brooklyn judge suggested one year would be enough to pass the bar.
  • Law firms clamor for more clinical preparation for recent grads. But to cut costs, law schools pare back clinical classes first.
  • Law offices nationwide eliminated 21,600 jobs in 2009 and ’10.
  • Solo attorneys get paid for only 40% of their time, according to estimates.
  • Mundane legal tasks can not be outsourced or performed by software.

In the video, nine former law students sued New York Law School because they couldn’t get a job; the model is failing. Law students incur staggering debt with hopes of making payment, basing those hopes on misleading job statistics from law schools. Though the case was “thrown out,” it underscores a real problem in traditional legal education.

14 Replies to “New York Distance Law Schools: How Distant?”

  1. Law Grads of 2011: 55% find legal employment 9 months after graduate. Google: Wall Street Journal and “Law Grads Face Brutal Job Market”. 6/26/2012.

    Of course, up to now, virtually all Law Schools were reporting 80-90% employment.

    But no liability for misrepresentations . .

  2. No. I think college graduates go to law school because they want to be $120k, $140k, $160k in debt and working at McDonalds.

    I see you practice med mal. The next time a potential client comes to you, complaining of some injury sustained from a medical procedure, will you tell him to get bent? After all, no doctor guarantees any result, right? What right do patients have to rely on a doctor’s representations?

  3. My apologies for a second comment, but Professor Paul Campos did a great interview today on Bloomberg Law about this issue. Also, Professor Brian Tamanaha’s book, “Failing Law Schools,” comes out this Friday. Both are available in my “likes,” and discuss what a fraudulent mess legal education has become. The best thing any unemployed law grad could do is get out of this contracting, antiquated profession. Or at least get into the business/technology side of law, where there is actually work.

  4. But it’s not that simple, because we live in a society that allows recovery in cases of fraudulent inducement.

    Grads do need to take some of the responsibility. But placing 100% of the blame on them is wrong. It just allows law schools to continue setting unconscionable tuitions, which they dupe people into paying through lies and manipulations, while those payments are covered by tax payers who are unlikely to ever see their money back (due to loan defaults and grads entering IBR plans).

  5. I sincerely hope that they look into post-graduate employment opportunities/stats, considering that most of them are going to be taking out hundreds of thousands of tax-payer-provided dollars to attend law school. And this data (which goes far beyond simple promotional material), as well as applicants’ reliance on it, is what was at issue in this case. Judge Schweitzer did not dismiss the case because law schools aren’t in the business of getting their students jobs.

  6. @lawmed1 It’s common sense that college grads in fact go to law school to better themselves financially as advertised by law school promotional materials.

    And if law schools only promise to “educate you,” why publish misleading statistics of post-graduate salaries at all? We all know the answer to this question: it’s to induce college grads to attend law school. Would they go knowing law school leads to debt enslavement?

    Law school administrators openly joke about these facts in private.

  7. @lawmed1 what a crock of crap. law schools put out annual stats saying 90+% of their students are making 70k or more in the private sector. then you get to third year and realize if your lucky to get a job, you’ll be making 40k. why shouldn’t that law school be held accountabe?.

  8. If law schools don’t want to be blamed for their student’s job prospects, then law schools should stop advertising job statistics. the fact is that the profession is in a crises in part because law schools lie through their teeth and financially rape students into thinking that a law degree will lead to a great career. It doesn’t. if you want to talk about responsibility, then you should want to hold schools accountable for their own actions and the harm it causes.

  9. That’s very true. When people go see a doctor, they must rely on the doctor’s expert opinion in the matter. After all, they are not doctors and are in no position to understand the nuisances of medical treatment. Thus, they rely on their doctor’s opinion. When done so to their detriment, the doctor must be accountable.

  10. Aren’t the law schools in much the same positions as the doctors? That is, they are in a superior position when it comes to knowledge about employment statistics of their past students. The incoming students, like your clients, reasonably rely on the things the law schools are telling them.

  11. Thus, if the school tells them that 95% of exiting grads are employed within 9 months of graduation, they, much like your clients, reasonably rely on those assertions in making the ultimate choice to attend the law school. It’s important because the law schools flaunt those employment stats pretty heavily in courting new students.

  12. If the employment stats are either an outright lie, or heavily massaged, then aren’t the aggrieved students entitle to some form of relief? Perhaps the law schools should be required to give students a better breakdown of the stats (i.e. how many jobs are law related, etc), much like a doctor must warn a patient of all the risks of any treatment before they can receive informed consent?

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