A Distance Education Primer: Lessons from My Life as a Dot.Edu Entrepreneur

June 16, 2012

We stand at the threshold of a major change in legal education. Recognizing the extent to which law students and lawyers alike rely on the Internet in both their professional and personal lives, the American Bar Association (“ABA”) has approved new standards for the J.D. curriculum which will greatly expand the opportunities for law students and lawyers to use the Internet to learn at a distance. Under these standards, students can earn up to twelve law school credits through asynchronous courses, by taking up to four credits a semester, after they have completed 28 credits (roughly the first year of law school). To date, few law schools have taken the plunge into distance education, although a handful have gotten wet toes. As the Director of the Health Law and Policy Program at Pace University Law School, I had the chance to swim in the deep end.
Through my experience in developing Pace’s innovative distance education program, I have learned some critical lessons about the potential and perils of providing legal education via the Internet. In the belief that my experiences are generic, not dependent on a particular law school’s context, I offer these observations to assist others who seek to launch distance education initiatives in the not-for-profit sector. The following is an account of my life as an educational entrepreneur.