So you're a community college student working full time and looking for a path to law school.
A college designed for you is close to opening, pending approval by Gov. John Lynch of a bill that cleared the House on Wednesday. The American College of History and Legal Studies would enroll students for their final two years of college and award bachelor's degrees in one field: history and legal studies. Classes would meet in Salem three nights a week, and the $10,000 tuition - modest for any baccalaureate institution - would be cut in half for students awarded a scholarship.
The college guarantees students with high grades admission to the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, and it allows high achievers to shave a year from their studies by combining their final year of college with their first year of law school. It wasn't a difficult arrangement to make. The dean of the independent law school, Lawrence Velvel, is the founder and dean of the new college.
Velvel began work on ACHLS after seeing bright students shut out of the legal profession because of a modest economic background or youthful inattention to their studies.
"A lot of people think that they cannot go to law school, that there is no way they will be admitted," Velvel said. "It gives a chance to people who otherwise academically wouldn't have the chance."
Actually sounds like a pretty good plan at first glance, doesn't it? Lower tuition rates and the ability to finish law school in two years instead of three. What the article doesn't mention is that the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover is a non-ABA accredited school. Essentially anyone can get into this school if they want to attend. Since it is non-accredited, LSAT is not required as part of the school's admissions criteria.
I'm not accusing Velvel of not having good intentions for this low cost college and I'm no fan of the LSAT, the ABA, or its accreditation standards. But I can't support the idea of anyone wasting money on a non-accredited law school when the legal industry is imploding and jobs continue to be outsourced. Despite that most academics were high achieving students who attended elite universities, for some reason they believe they are doing low achieving students a favor by allowing them to attend low ranked schools when perhaps they'd be better suited at learning a trade instead. Learning history is important, but most people aren't meant to get a JD or a Ph.D in history. High achievers from lower income families will get the financial aid and scholarships to attend state schools for around the same amount ACHLS charges for tuition. For those who did not excel in school, getting a certificate from a fourth tier school in a subject like history will not help them find a job in the real world.
Attending a third-tier ABA accredited law school is bad enough but if your grades and LSAT scores are so low that you have to attend a non-accredited school, it's probably best for you to abandon the idea of becoming a lawyer. The best place to educate yourself and learn about history and the law is the library. You have thousands of books at your disposal for free. You'll learn more in a year reading a book a week at your local library than a year in any law school classroom. Don't waste even $10,000 towards a degree that won't help you find a job. All I can say to anyone about to attend a non-accredited law school is to run the other way while you still can.