Petition for equal treatment in legal education gains momentum
A Texas lawyer is fighting the unequal treatment between traditional law schools and those that offer a fully online legal program.
—Nelson A. Locke, Esq.
PLANO, TEXAS, USA, August 6, 2022 /EINPresswire.com/ — A Plano lawyer is gaining momentum in his case for equal treatment in legal education. In June, attorney Nelson A. Locke, Esq. founded the Virtual Education Is Real Education initiative. He started a petition campaign that would compel the state of Texas to allow graduates of fully online law schools to be admitted to the Texas bar. The petition has nearly 500 signatures.
UNEQUAL TREATMENT FOR ONLINE CURRICULA
The American Bar Association (ABA) oversees the accreditation of law schools. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the ABA allowed its 196 accredited law schools to offer courses entirely online. This year, the ABA is still allowing 140 law schools to use online courses to provide up to one-third of the credit hours required for a JD. However, it has refused accreditations for all fully online law schools, such as Concord School of Law at Purdue University, excluding St. Mary’s Law School in San Antonio.
“It is easy to find a glaring case of unequal treatment between traditional law schools and those that offer a fully online legal program. Just compare St. Mary’s School of Law in San Antonio and Concord Law School at Purdue University Global in Los Angeles,” Locke said.
Concord is a pioneer in online education, established in 1998 as the nation’s first fully online law school. Concord is fully accredited by the California State Bar and the National Commission on Higher Education.
Locke continues: “Concord has been producing qualified lawyers for nearly 25 years. Even so, Concord has been largely ignored by the American Bar Association (ABA) due to its entirely online curriculum. In contrast, St. Mary’s has only five years of experience offering online courses. Yet, it is the only law school to have a fully online ABA-accredited Juris Doctor (JD) program.
VIRTUAL EDUCATION IS REAL EDUCATION
Locke successfully established a law practice in California in 2013 after passing the state’s two rigorous bar exams. Additionally, he has been admitted to the federal bar in five different states and is now seeking admission to the bar in Texas.
Locke received her law degree from Purdue University’s Concord Law School, which offers a completely online program.
Despite his qualifications, Locke is not licensed to practice law in Texas. The state prohibits graduates of any fully online law school, even if the graduate is accepted to another state’s bar, from being admitted to the Texas bar.
ALIGNING ABA RULES WITH 21ST CENTURY LEARNING
When the distance education ban was created, the Texas Supreme Court had no way of anticipating the prominence that online education would take.
• The Harvard Business Review recognizes that the traditional higher education model is under pressure from online options.
• According to the Brookings Institution, the pandemic has demonstrated that the quality of live online teaching often rivals — or even exceeds — the quality of an in-person class.
• The average cost of tuition at a traditional law school is $45,844 per year, according to educationdata.org. Compare that with Concord’s average annual tuition of $12,420.
“Online law schools produce qualified attorneys who should be licensed to practice anywhere in the United States,” Locke said. “The ABA recognized this when it accredited St. Mary’s online program. It makes no sense for Texas to bar students from other online law programs, who have already been accepted to the bar in other states, from being admitted to the Texas bar.
To learn more about Locke’s Virtual Education Is Real Education campaign, visit https://www.virtualeducationisrealeducation.com/.