California Southern Law School

Discussions on the value or merit of unaccredited programs and institutions.

California Southern Law School

Postby jackieobrien » Fri May 14, 2010 2:10 pm

Hi

We have a graduate from California Southern Law School applying for work with our organization. I wonder what the mebers here think of this organisation?

http://www.cslawschool.com

Many thanks,

J
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Re: California Southern Law School

Postby nosborne48 » Fri May 14, 2010 3:44 pm

California Southern Law School is an unaccredited, resident law school offering a four year part time J.D. program.

www.calbar.ca.gov/state/calbar/calbar_g ... accredited

Since the school is accredited by neither the American Bar Association, the California Board of Bar Examiners, nor any Department of Education recognized accreditor, it is very difficult to give any opinion as to the quality of its education. There are a few conclusions that might be drawn:

-your applicant studied law in some manner for four years;
-your applicant probably passed the California First Year Law Student Examination;
-your applicant should be qualified to take the California General Bar Examination and receive a law license.

If your applicant has taken and passed the California Bar Examination, I think that you can be satisfied that his legal education is substantial and reached a professional level. If not, I think that no conclusion can be drawn. There's nothing wrong with asking him, however.

It does not reflect badly on your applicant that he chose such a school. His law degree, of whatever quality it may be, cost him roughly one tenth of the cost of a degree from an ABA approved school in California. If he passes the Bar, why not save a lifetime of debt servitude?
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Re: California Southern Law School

Postby jackieobrien » Fri May 14, 2010 3:55 pm

Thank you!

Assuming the candidate has not passed the bar exam and the role does not require this, how does one evaluate the actual academic degree itself?

Is the school legally allowed to award degrees?
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Re: California Southern Law School

Postby Rich Douglas » Fri May 14, 2010 4:34 pm

jackieobrien wrote:Thank you!

Assuming the candidate has not passed the bar exam and the role does not require this, how does one evaluate the actual academic degree itself?

Is the school legally allowed to award degrees?


Yes, but "legally allowed" is no measure of quality. There are almost no standards applied to unaccredited schools in California. You simply cannot judge what this person knows without some other measure--the Bar Exam would be a good one. I can't think of a second.

Without that, I would be concerned about hiring someone who (a) requires knowledge of the law to perform his/her duties (to the point where you're seeking a law graduate) and (b) has graduated from a school no one can measure.

Tread carefully.
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Re: California Southern Law School

Postby jackieobrien » Fri May 14, 2010 4:39 pm

Thanks.

Quality aside, is the degree illigal? Would you consider it as a diploma mill?

If the Bar allows its students to take the exam, does it says the degree is legal or not? What do you think?
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Re: California Southern Law School

Postby Rich Douglas » Fri May 14, 2010 6:15 pm

jackieobrien wrote:Thanks.

Quality aside, is the degree illigal? Would you consider it as a diploma mill?

If the Bar allows its students to take the exam, does it says the degree is legal or not? What do you think?


Yes, it is legal. But "legal" isn't the same as "legitimate" or "useful." In California, you cannot accept legal status as a sign of quality. You just can't.

There have been some okay law schools that operated as unaccredited. And there have been some clear-cut diploma mills. You cannot tell without further information. If your situation is real--you're an employer considering an applicant with this form of legal education--you're better off finding out if he/she passed the Bar. If not, perhaps you should pass.
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Re: California Southern Law School

Postby nosborne48 » Fri May 14, 2010 7:36 pm

You might consider this: In California, a law student may qualify for the Bar Exam through correspondence or on-line study, study in the office of a lawyer or Judge, or attendence in an unaccredited law school. All routes require the FYLEX, all routes require the student to log a specific number of hours for each of four years, and in all cases, the burden is on the STUDENT to demonstrate that he really studied as he claims to have studied.

Where the student earns his J.D. from a school accredited by the California Board of Bar Examiners (which by definition includes ABA approved institutions), proving that the student earned the degree is enough all by itself. No hours logs, no FYLEX (except for "special" students). These schools are regularly and closely inspected by or on behalf of the ABA or CBE.

I admit that I'm a little doubtful about California residental unaccredited law schools in large part because CBE's requirements for accreditation are far from extreme. There's none of the "gold-plating" that the ABA requires (and brother, it does) but a CBE accredited law school must have an adequate law library including on-line research and hard volumes, an adequate faculty comprising more than one lousy "professor", an adequate administration with decent record keeping, and reasonable admissions standards. As to that last, every CBE school of which I am aware requires the LSAT. Unaccredited schools don't.

Setting up a CBE accredited school is not a weekend/spare change/garage project but CBE's requirements are about bedrock for a real school and not so burdensome that any serious, well administered small school can't reasonably meet them. So why doesn't THIS school do so? And thereby hangs the tale.

Oh, there IS one category of unaccredited law school that is a little different. A new resident law school must function as a candidate for CBE accreditation for two years (I think it is) before it can be accredited. Even so, until it IS accredited, it isn't accredited, if you see what I mean.

As a side note, if I were a middle-aged Californian with the urge to become a lawyer and no thought of ever moving out of the Golden State, there's no doubt in my mind at all; I'd get my degree from the nearest CBE school. If no such school were practically available, I'd probably opt for Taft Law School's on-line program. An ABA J.D. no longer makes any financial sense while the unaccredited residential schools...well, they don't inspire much confidence in me.
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Re: California Southern Law School

Postby Rich Douglas » Fri May 14, 2010 10:23 pm

The worst offenders are law schools that (a) have no accreditation (CalBar or ABA) and (b) are DL. This school is residential. Thus, I have no doubt some law education is going on. To what extent is difficult to measure, of course. One might look at its Baby Bar and Bar Exam results. The school claims some pretty good results, but the populations are small.
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Re: California Southern Law School

Postby nosborne48 » Fri May 14, 2010 11:00 pm

Yes, but these schools tend to have very small graduating cadres. They have very high drop out rates, usually around the time of the FYLEX. It's jsut really hard to tell much about the school at all, I'm afraid.
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Re: California Southern Law School

Postby Hungry Ghost » Sat May 15, 2010 1:18 am

For what it's worth, I just looked up California Southern Law Schools stats for the California general bar examination for the last three years. There are two examination dates per year, in February and July.
Source:
http://www.calbar.ca.gov

July 2009

First-timers 4 took, 1 passed, 25%
Repeaters 25 took, 6 passed, 24%

Feb 2009

First-timers 3 took, 0 passed 0%
Repeaters 26 took, 2 passed, 8%

July 2008

First-timers 10 took, 7 passed, 70%
Repeaters 21 took, 2 passed, 10%

Feb 2008

First-timers 3 took, 0 passed, 0%
Repeaters 23 took, 3 passed, 13%

July 2007

First-timers 10 took, 2 passed, 20%
Repeaters 22 took, 2 passed, 9%

Feb 2007

First-timers 3 took, 1 passed, 33%
Repeaters 34 took, 7 passed, 7%

Those numbers might not look very good, and by normal law school standards they aren't. (An ABA law school would lose its accreditation for numbers like these.) But they are nevertheless better than most of the unaccredited law schools. California Southern appears to have produced 33 new California lawyers in the last three years.

(Did they put something into Cal Southern's water in July 2008??)
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Re: California Southern Law School

Postby nosborne48 » Sat May 15, 2010 2:06 pm

HG: (Did they put something into Cal Southern's water in July 2008??)

Me: You might be seeing the results of the (ahem) "Nosborne Effect". A few years ago, I suggested that the huge increase in the cost of a J.D. from an ABA approved school might force better qualified California law students to seek degrees from substantially less expensive CBE and unaccredited schools. There is a well established relationship between LSAT scores and UGPA and Bar exam performance.
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Re: California Southern Law School

Postby Oregon » Sun May 16, 2010 12:51 am

What's with the unaccredited talk? It is DETC accredited. It is not ABA accredited because they do not accredit distance programs. Considering something like 20% of Harvard Law grads flunk the California bar exam, I wouldn't worry about the competence of anyone who passed.
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Re: California Southern Law School

Postby Jonathan Whatley » Sun May 16, 2010 1:18 am

Oregon wrote:What's with the unaccredited talk? It is DETC accredited. It is not ABA accredited because they do not accredit distance programs. Considering something like 20% of Harvard Law grads flunk the California bar exam, I wouldn't worry about the competence of anyone who passed.


"California Southern Law School" is completely unrelated to the School of Law at "California Southern University" (the former Southern California University for Professional Studies).
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Re: California Southern Law School

Postby Hungry Ghost » Sun May 16, 2010 2:07 am

California Southern Law School

http://www.cslawschool.com/

California Southern University

http://www.calsouthern.edu

It's confusing since the former-SCUPS Cal Southern University offers a JD too. CSLS in Riverside had the 'California Southern' name first. I'm surprised that it hasn't gone to court to protect its identity.

There's another point to make. There are really only two kinds of accredited law schools recognized by the California state bar admissions rules: Those that are directly accredited by the California State Bar and those accredited by the ABA, which the Calbar accepts as accredited. It doesn't matter if a law school is accredited by DETC, by a regional acceditor, or by anyone else. If it isn't Calbar or ABA, it's considered unaccredited for bar-admissions purposes.

Despite its DETC accreditation, California Southern University is careful to tell prospective students, "The School of Law is registered with the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California as an unaccredited correspondence law school."

http://www.calsouthern.edu/online-law-degree/

Concord has become RA since its merger with Kaplan, but it's technically still an unaccredited law school.

See this Calbar listing of California law schools, broken down by ABA, Calbar, unaccredited correspondence, unaccredited DL (meaning online-interactive, I guess) and unaccredited fixed-facility.

The Calbar have been tweaking their distance learning categories in recent years, so they are obviously interested in it and paying attention to it. Maybe the Calbar will surprise everyone and start accrediting DL lawschools one of these days. I don't expect the ABA to consider that until long after hell freezes over. But California has always done things its own way.

http://www.calbar.ca.gov/state/calbar/c ... 15&id=5128
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Re: California Southern Law School

Postby nosborne48 » Sun May 16, 2010 2:51 am

I don't imagine that the ABA will ever accredit a completely D/L J.D. CalBar might, one of these days, but there's nothing in the wind as far as I know.

There are two significant advantages to DETC or RA accreditation for a California law school, though:

1) It's much easier to claim one of the education deductions or credits on your taxes; and
2) The degree can be "claimed" anywhere, so long as you don't represent yourself as licensed to practice law where you aren't.

I guess Concord is RA now but that's by kind of a sleight of hand...WASC won't accredit California law schools that aren't ABA or CBE. Concord gets its RA from a different region.
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