For many students, the next academic term at law school will be a mix of ‘bricks and clicks’

This fall, as students would normally head to campus, many LL.M. programs are instead planning a hybrid mix of “bricks and clicks” as coronavirus restrictions in many countries make a full-scale campus reopening challenging.

The question is whether law schools can capitalize on this experiment in online education, and make the case for digital delivery to be permanently embedded in their LL.M.s.

This is the moment for digital degrees to prove themselves after years of slow adoption. “Online legal education’s moment has come, whether by necessity or choice,” says Tammi Rice, vice president of bar prep programs at Kaplan, a test prep company.

Lorna Richardson, a lecturer in commercial law at University of Edinburgh in the UK, expects more institutions to launch Online LL.M.s — especially following the rescinding of a controversial visa policy that may have deported overseas online students in the US, and the roll out of digital bar exams in some American states.

And indeed, since the beginning of the pandemic, a number of law schools, including Tulane Law School , Cardozo School of Law , Fordham Law School , and Cornell Law School , have all launched online master’s programs in law.

“The current pandemic has highlighted how important online study is,” Richardson adds, “but Online LL.Ms. must come from a strong intellectual and pedagogic basis; rather than as a knee jerk reaction to Covid-19.” Online LL.M. programs can offer inherent flexibility

One of the main benefits of online learning is that it empowers people to further their education on their own terms. “Online learning combines excellence in teaching with ultimate flexibility,” says Richardson.

So Online LL.M.s are attracting new students with personal or professional commitments to graduate study; rather than cannibalizing demand for campus courses.But the pandemic has highlighted a gap between the digital leaders and the laggards, with students at several law schools signing petitions demanding tuition fee refunds for hastily convened online courses that they see as subpar.“Online education has made tremendous strides in both quality and accessibility over […]

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