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Online Law Schools—Which Are the Best?

When you ask yourself this question, take time to look past just the name. While some high-profile schools do have a certain name-recognition, know that online-only programs and correspondent courses are never ABA approved nor accredited by a particular state bar. They also have no flexibility for time and degree completion, and they have a much higher cost.

You may also hear of some big-name schools with a campus that offer online only programs. These programs will typically charge more for their online programs than even high-profile institutions without a campus. Is the extreme difference in price worthwhile? Especially since even ABA-approved institutions won't have ABA approval for online-only programs.

Novus University School of Law offers students an option for bar admission through law office study in several states which provide the practical legal training needed to succeed. The pass rate for students who utilize the law office study is much higher than just school book study alone. Novus students and graduates use their legal education for career advancement and business. See over
200 career options areas where graduates currently work and utilize their legal education. Novus students seeking bar admission through law office study have the option through those states where it is offered. Review the National Conference of Bar Examiners’ Comprehensive Guide for Bar Admission Requirements for additional bar admission information.

Data from California

California is a great case study to look at since it has options to allow for the possibility of certain distance-learning school graduates to qualify to sit for their state bar exam—even though those schools are still classified as not ABA approved and CA Bar Unaccredited. There are additional requirements for both the schools and the students to meet, including students passing an exam after their first year of study known as the “Baby Bar”. Failure to pass this exam results in the student being disqualified from any further studies at that school–even if they don’t plan to take the General Bar when they graduate. However, for those that do pass the exam and continue towards graduation the final bar pass rates for many of these schools is still very low. We can then compare data from the General Bar exam results from among these schools. (see table below).

While high-profile, California Bar unaccredited schools like Concord University School of Law, Taft Law School, or Northwestern University may offer you a certain amount of “name value”, attending a well-known program that charges more than double the amount won't guarantee a better education.

From the statistics below, most law school graduates who take the bar exam, still choose the traditional non-online approach. You may find that going to law school on campus at a traditional fixed-facility ABA approved law school is not feasible for you and so an online or correspondent legal education will provide the time and savings for those who still need to work an provide for themselves and families or loved ones. The best fit for one person isn't always the best fit for the next and only you can determine which program will best suit your professional and personal goals. Take into consideration time, money and opportunities for degree completion.

2016 California State Bar Exam Statistics

Baby Bar
(1st yr law Students Exam)

General Bar

First-Timers

First-Timers

Repeaters

Law School Type Took Passed Took Passed Took Passed
Law Office/Judges’ Chambers

8*

2*

1*

1*

2*

1*

All CA Unaccredited

308

82

159

44

396

31

All CA Accredited (fixed facility, non ABA approved)

395

84

1054

134

All ABA approved (fixed facility)

4824

2897

3407

1158

*2016 data not available. 2015 data shown.


2015 California State Bar Exam Statistics by Selected Schools
(2016 data not available)

Unaccredited Schools – Distance Learning Took Passed Took Passed Took Passed
Abraham Lincoln University

19

7

12

5

95

5

American Heritage University School of Law

1

0

10

2

8

4

California School of Law

9

3

11

1

14

3

Concord University School of Law

71

21

61

21

97

2

St. Francis School of Law

4

1

Unaccredited Schools – Correspondence Took Passed Took Passed Took Passed
California Southern University

7

3

3

2

6

0

Northwestern California University School of Law

51

10

26

8

65

9

Oak Brook College of Law and Govt Policy

6

2

6

1

Taft Law School

21

1

12

3

30

5

University of Honolulu School of Law

1

0

1

0

4

0

American International School of Law

1

1

International Pacific School of Law

1

0

Unaccredited Schools – Fixed Facility Took Passed Took Passed Took Passed
California Southern Law School

27

8

10

4

33

5

Irvine University College of Law

10

2

1

0

10

0

Pacific West College of Law

1

0

2

0

8

1

Peoples College of Law

6

3

3

0

6

0

University of San Luis Obispo School of Law

2

1

1

0

10

0

Western Sierra Law School

6

2

7

1

21

3

California Desert Trial Academy College of Law

8

1

McMillan Academy of Law

1

0

Pinnacles School of Law

3

0