Sunday, March 15, 2009

What would you expect from California?

There used to be an old saying, "Look what the cat dragged in..." now the saying would be "Look what showed up on Facebook..." A recent Facebook post caught my attention, it said: "Would you like to earn an online law degree from the comfort of your own home?"

Fascinated by the opportunity to fame and fortune over the Internet, I clicked on the link. Here is what it said:

Would you like to earn an online law degree from the comfort of your own home? It’s not easy, but it is possible. Earning an online law degree poses several unique challenges. No online law school is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA); however, forty-nine states require that law school graduates earn a degree accredited by the ABA in order to take the bar exam needed to practice law.

California is the one state that allows graduates from distance learning law schools to sit for their bar, assuming the examinees meet certain requirements. If you live in California, or if you’re willing to relocate, you may be able to become a practicing lawyer with an online law degree. After you work as a lawyer for a few years, it may be possible to practice law in some other states.
Do we now have an explanation for part of the problem with the law coming out of California recently? Maybe.

The online article goes on to state:
Once you’ve used your online law degree to practice law in California for a few years, you may be able to work as a lawyer in additional states. Many states will permit California lawyers to take their bar exams after five to seven years of practicing law. Alternatively, you could enroll in a Master of Law program accredited by the American Bar Association. Such programs take only one or two years and will help you qualify to take the bar exam in other states. You may also practice law in federal courts located in any state.
As a practicing lawyer in the state of Arizona for over 34 years, I would seriously doubt that anyone could obtain an adequate law school education without classroom attendance. Learning to be a lawyer isn't just about reading some case law and deciding to represent clients, we no longer live in the 19th Century, Abraham Lincoln may have been self taught, but he didn't have the IRS or the Rules of Civil Procedure to contend with. With a ratio of 49 to 1 it doesn't seem like this is a movement that will sweep the country, but the fact that California, the lone dissenter, is liberal enough to allow people to officially practice law without going to an accredited school says volumes about their attitude towards the law in general.

Would you go to a doctor who got his or her degree over the Internet? Probably not knowingly. I have met a lot of people who have represented themselves in legal battles, some with as much expertise as practicing lawyers, does that mean I would like that person to represent me in a lawsuit? Not likely or even possibly.

1 comment:

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