Are There Accredited Correspondence Law Schools in the United States?
There are no correspondence law schools or online law schools in the United States that have received accreditation status from the American Bar Association, or by state bar examiners.
There are, however, 12 law schools currently registered with the committee of Bar Examiners in the State of California. Graduates from these schools are allowed to take the California Bar exam, and in some cases, bar exams in other states, as well.
History of Correspondence Law Schools
The study of law through correspondence courses has been available in the United States since 1890. William C. Sprague established the Correspondence School of Law in Detroit, Michigan. He felt students wanting to study law were faced with too many challenges.
Most of the textbooks were written in a technical style these students didn't understand and filled with many Latin phrases. The material in the books focused mainly on the practice and procedure of law, rather than how the law pertained to business transactions. Mr. Sprague thought other branches of the law needed more coverage.
The Sprague school merged with Blackstone and eventually became the Blackstone School of Law. The school changed during the 1970s from a law school to paralegal training program. Antoinette D. Leach became well known as one of the first graduates, and the first female attorney to practice in Indiana.
The development of correspondence law schools provided educational opportunities women, the poor, working class and ethnic minorities would otherwise not be able to obtain.
Operational Correspondence and Online Law Schools
There are twelve operational correspondence law schools in the United States, all of which were established and have their main offices in California:
- Abraham Lincoln University School of Law – Motto "The World is Our Campus." Located in downtown Los Angeles, students may attend evening or weekend classes on campus or study by correspondence. The school was established in 1996 and the annual tuition is $7,500.
- American Heritage University – Motto "Knowledge Is Power." Located in southern California, the students are mostly working adults. The school was established in 2003 and has as of yet not had a graduate pass the 'baby bar'.
- American International School of Law – The school was established in 2009 with the vision to create an online law school, based on distinctive technology and an institutional spirit of excellence.
- The California School of Law – Established in 2004, the goal of the school is to provide a legal education online that is equal to a prestigious residential law school education. The school offers a low interest payment plan.
- California Southern University – Motto "Cognitio Vincet Omne" (Knowledge Conquers All). Established in 1978, the school has only had two graduates pass the California State bar exam on the first try.
- Concord Law School – Motto "The best law school may be the one that comes to you." Established in 1998, the Concord Law School recently merged with the Kaplan University. This union makes it the first correspondence law school to be associated with an accredited university.
- International Pacific Law School – Established in 2009, this school is registered with the California State Bar as an official correspondence law school. The school provides audio and visual lectures and virtual classrooms, to give students a real feeling of community.
- MD Kirk School of Law – Founded in 2005, the school strives to provide students with a high quality correspondence program at a reasonable tuition rate. The school is registered with California State Bar.
- Northwestern California University – Motto "Quality – Opportunity – Affordability." The school really takes their motto seriously. Tuition fees are about half of other correspondence law schools, and the school boasts a 38 percent pass rate of first time 'baby bar' takers. Established in 1982.
- Oak Brook College of Law – Incorporated in 1994, the school was originally designed for students who had been home schooled. About half the enrollment is now made up of adults wishing to further their careers. With tuition at approximately $4,000 per year, the school is slightly more expensive than Northwestern.
- The St. Francis School of Law – The school was founded in the heart of Silicon Valley, among new start-up companies and some of the world's leading venture capital firms, including Hewlett Packard, Apple, Facebook, and the Oracle. Tuition is $6,500 per year, but this can be drastically reduced by the generous graduate school scholarships offered by the school itself.
- The Taft Law School – Established in 1976, the school has the highest first time baby bar pass rates of all correspondence law schools. At 70.1 percent pass rate, the $7,920 annual tuition is well worth considering.
These schools are classified as correspondence law schools. However, there are now several accredited colleges and universities
that offer online courses. Some offer complete online programs, while others only offer a few online courses, and the remainder of your credits must be obtained on campus.
These days, getting a higher education is easier than ever before. Anyone, no matter what their situation, time constraints, location or financial situation, can get the education they want to start a new career, or advance their current career. A little research will set you up with the programs you are interested in and the school that can provide what you need.
Even though correspondence and online law schools are unaccredited, they can still provide you with valuable skills and knowledge. They can also be used as stepping stones to be admitted into an accredited law school. Whatever direction your goals take you, correspondence law schools can help you reach those goals.
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