Recent law school graduates and some current law students are all too familiar with the “Zoom School of Law,” the nickname used for the online learning environment where they spent their days taking classes during the height of the pandemic.
As it turns out, that learning process went so well that we’ll soon be looking at the first fully online J.D. program, offering full-time and part-time educational options, complete with an asynchronous curriculum. Which school is responsible for bringing legal education to the 21st century?
That would be the Southwestern School of Law, an institution that routinely finds itself listed as one of the best law schools for careers in entertainment law and counts Johnny Depp’s lawyer, Camille Vasquez, as a notable alumnus.
According to the announcement, Southwestern’s new online program will maintain the rigor and quality of its residential J.D. programs while providing flexibility that will enable individuals with professional or personal commitments to pursue a law degree without disrupting their careers or relocating. Back in April, the ABA approved the school’s substantive change application to create a distance learning program for its new online degree program. Here’s more information from Law.com:
The online curriculum is substantially similar to that offered in the residential J.D. programs and taught by the same faculty. The asynchronous format allows learners the freedom to access course materials, participate in discussions and complete assignments at times during the week most convenient to them, accommodating varied schedules and time zones.
Online students will still be able to participate in externship programs and clinics—online or onsite at a location near their residence; four concentration programs; honors programs, including academic journals and advocacy teams; and student clubs, according to the announcement.
President and Dean Darby Dickerson offered the following statement on the school’s new online degree programming: “Southwestern’s Online J.D. Program is not ‘Zoom U.’ It is a carefully considered, thoughtfully designed program that will allow students to interact with faculty and other students meaningfully while providing scheduling and geographic flexibility.”
Southwestern Law will officially begin accepting applications this month, with the inaugural class set to begin in fall 2024. Congratulations to Southwestern Law on its innovative new online degree program!
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter and Threads or connect with her on LinkedIn.