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Non-Accredited Law School

Does It Matter If I Go To A Non-Accredited Law School?

Deciding which law school to attend is a very important decision – one which has a significant impact on your future.  One critical consideration is the accreditation status of the law schools you are evaluating.  In this post, we discuss whether it will matter if you go to a non-accredited law school.

Does It Matter If I Go To A Non-Accredited Law School?

Law schools can be accredited on either a national or state level.  When a law school is “accredited,” this means it has achieved certain academic standards over the requisite period of time.  The national standards, set by the American Bar Association (ABA), are often much higher than a state’s standards.  In fact, the ABA recently changed its requirements for achieving accredited status, making them even more difficult.  The new rule states that “At least 75 percent of a law school’s graduates who sat for a bar examination must have passed a bar examination administered within two years of their date of graduation.”

Does graduating from a non-accredited law school carry risks?

Graduating from a non-accredited law school is going to have some consequences on your ability to sit for and pass the bar exam.  The vast majority of states require a degree from an ABA-accredited law school in order to sit for the bar.  California is one of the few states that allows graduates of non-accredited law schools to take the exam.  The pass rate in California suffers accordingly.

Do non-accredited law schools give as good of education?

People debate whether non-accredited law schools provide a sub-standard legal education.  What we do know is that the bar exam pass rate in California for those who graduated from a non-accredited law school is very low.  For example, in July 2018, the pass rate for those who went to a non-ABA-accredited law school in California and then took the California bar was around 11%.  To compare, the pass rate for those who went to an ABA-accredited law school was around 51%.

Thus, there is a strong argument that attending a non-accredited law school can negatively impact your chances of passing the bar exam. That’s if your state allows you to take it.  Your career options will be quite limited as it will be difficult to obtain a license to practice law in many jurisdictions.  Further, many job opportunities prioritize reputation.  You aren’t going to score as many points with a potential employer as someone who performed well at an ABA-accredited law school.

What are some benefits of attending a non-accredited law school?

However, attending a non-accredited law school can offer benefits to those in some circumstances.  Non-accredited law schools give students more freedom in their scheduling.  They are often four-year programs (most traditional law schools are three years) and some can even be done online.  They allow students the ability to continue to work full time while going to school if necessary.  Non-accredited law schools are also often much cheaper and have lower admissions standards.  Many students that have life circumstances such that a traditional law school program is not practical consider a non-accredited law school.

Finally, remember that a law degree will open up doors. The important thing to consider is what you want to do with a law degree. Then, determine if a degree from a non-accredited law school will help you get there.

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