COVID-19 is Moving Law School Online
Law school admissions, graduations and course offerings are all being reimagined because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Admissions are dropping. Graduation ceremonies are going virtual. The April and June LSAT in-person testing dates have been cancelled in favor of a unique online version of the exam dubbed the LSAT-Flex, while law deans nationwide are preparing for online classes and distance learning if necessary this fall.
And at least one school – Albany Law School— has incorporated COVID-19 into its curriculum. A seven-week course will be taught virtually on Zoom by the school’s dean and president, Alicia Ouellette. The goal is to “take students into more than just the headlines and think of the issues as attorneys would,” according to Chron.com.
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The LSAT-Flex, to be given in May and June, was created for test takers who were registered for the in-person April and June 2020 tests that were canceled in the United States and Canada
“The remotely proctored LSAT-Flex will provide candidates with the opportunity to earn an LSAT score even if the COVID-19 crisis makes it impossible to deliver the test in-person,” says the Law School Admission Council.
Here you can find details on how the test will be administered, who is eligible to take it, testing equipment requirements and more.
Law Schools Going Online?
Law schools are in a quandary because nobody knows exactly what the public health situation will look like this fall.
“Considering the pandemic, schools want to give students choices about attending classes in person or remotely,” according to the ABA Journal. “Professors are concerned about the safety of returning to in-person classes, too, and there’s a question of whether streaming in to teach students gathered in person would be considered distance learning.”
Some schools are proposing that first-year students attend class in person while all other students attend remotely. Others are considering a hybrid scenario of social distancing in a residential setting. And some are in favor of doing everything online.
One snag: meeting ABA accreditation standards. Currently, ABA Standard 306 lets law schools provide up to one-third of their credits online, 10 of which can be in first-year classes.
“In February, the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar published a guidance memo, which stated distance learning could be a good solution for emergency situations where law school facilities are unavailable or something makes it hard for students to get to the campus,” reports the ABA Journal. “But the memo cautioned that schools and students may not have the technology necessary for distance learning, and faculty could be inexperienced with that type of teaching.”
How is COVID-19 Impacting the Fall 2020 Incoming Class?
Applications to ABA-accredited law schools have dropped nearly four percent from last year.
Only 16 schools have seen a rise in admissions, while 180 have seen a decline.
“It’s too early to tell exactly how COVID-19 will affect admission numbers, and it’s also uncertain how it will impact the number of international students coming to U.S. law schools, which has become an increasingly important source of students and tuition over the past decade,” writes Karen Sloan for law.com. “But it is clear that the ongoing crisis is creating some turmoil with admissions, at least in the short-term, as schools scramble to connect remotely with prospective 1Ls and accepted applicants.”
As for current students, many schools are adopting pass/fail grading for this semester and administering final exams online.
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