If you want to practice law in California, choosing the right law school is essential to your future professional success. While finding a California law school has never been easier, finding the one right for you is often not as easy. By way of this post, here are a few critical factors for you to consider.

As the ancient Greek philosophers taught so very long ago: “Know thyself.” Knowing your true interests, strengths, abilities, and limitations will help you make better, critical life choices. No more so than in deciding where to invest your time, money, and energy to study law. Doing so is a huge commitment which, if you make the right choice, will put you on the path toward professional success.

But, before deciding which law school is right for you, you must consider several critical factors. They include whether your work, family and lifestyle demands will allow you to devote the time needed for the study of law, whether you will find the challenging subject matter taught interesting, and whether your education and work experience gave you the analytical and writing skills needed to learn the law.

Legal Education at a Fraction of the Cost

icol regulated state bar californiaCalifornia is unique among the 50 states to offer law schools that offer an affordable program of legal education at a fraction of the cost of any ABA-approved law school. Known as “opportunity law schools,” California non accredited but registered law schools, such as ICOL, are regulated by the State Bar of California’s Committee of Bar Examiners and offer a J.D. curriculum in a four-year program that prepares their students to take and pass the California bar exam. They include law schools which teach in on-campus classrooms, through real-time, live online classes or by taped video lectures.

Each of these different types of law school programs offer their respective benefits. For those who learn best in a physical classroom, a fixed-facility program will likely be most effective. For those whose work schedule makes attending weekly, online evening classes difficult if not impossible, then being able to watch videos and study on their own schedule will accommodate their specific scheduling needs.

But if you can attend evening and weekend real-time class sessions, and enjoy learning in an interactive, online environment, then ICOL may be the right law school for you. ICOL’s innovative, online curriculum is designed to meet the needs of those working full time, but who learn best attending a real-time (if virtual) classroom environment. Using Zoom’s amazing technology, ICOL students are taught the way law has been taught for generations: Professors conducting live classes using Socratic teaching structured to lead to rigorous class discussions, all in real time.

ICOL’s program has been designed to combine the best of what on-campus programs offer, with the convenience of being able to study and attend classes from your home or office. ICOL’s J.D. curriculum offers the same courses taught in all J.D. programs, but ICOL’s students are provided with the very best, online academic support available, the same as used by law schools throughout the U.S. Such resources help students learn as they study, help them to prepare for their final examinations and, finally, they help them pass the First Year Law Students Examination and, eventually, the California bar examination.

Benefit from Smaller Class Sizes

icol online curriculum meets-needs of full time workersBut not all online J.D. classes are the same. If you have ever been on Zoom with 20, 30, 50 or more attendees, you know your ability to participate meaningfully was limited at best. Some online law schools with large enrollments offer classes with 40, 50 or more students attending. In an online environment with that many students, it is easy to get lost, and even easier to tune out. Law classes with much smaller enrollments help students learn better and for professors to teach better.

With that in mind, ICOL’s enrollment allows for smaller online classes, many with fewer than 10 students with most second, third-, and fourth-year classes eight students. As a result, since student/faculty ratios make a huge difference, ICOL’s small enrollment directly enhances its student’s learning experience.

Next, take a close look at who is teaching before deciding whether to enroll. Law schools with only a few professors teaching the entire curriculum, or those with professors with little professional experience in the subjects they teach, are not as capable of offering students the rigorous learning experience needed to develop the analytical and writing skills needed to pass the California bar exam.

ICOL’s faculty is second to none among online, “distance learning law schools.” Several members have been on the faculty for over a decade, while several others have already demonstrated that they are fully committed to their student’s success. So, since teaching you is critical to your future success, take a close look at the professional experience and accomplishments of ICOL faculty and then compare them to the faculty of any other law school you consider applying to before you enroll.

Finally, with the success of its students first and foremost in mind, ICOL offers a rigorous “review and prep” course to help its first-year students pass the First Year Law Students’ Examination (FYLSX). ICOL’s “FYLSX Boot Camp” consists of a comprehensive review of all three subjects tested, Contracts, Torts, and Criminal Law, all taught by the ICOL faculty. Students also receive access to Adaptibar to hone their multiple choice question skills and take a full-day mock exam to improve their time management skills.

Finally, as with all of life’s major decisions, particularly one as important one that will affect your professional future, please do as much due diligence as possible, ask as many questions as you can and then carefully consider the critical differences before deciding to apply to ICOL or any other law school.

To help you decide, please feel free to contact me directly (georgeleal@irvine.edu) to learn more of what ICOL has to offer, and why we consider its J.D. program innovative and why it may be right for you.

Dean Leal