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Thu Oct 31, 2019, 02:00 PM

This Online Law School Traps Students With Debt In Exchange For A Worthless Degree

The Executive JD Degree Costs More Than $33K For Three Years Of Law School — But It Doesn’t Make Its Students Into Lawyers https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/venessawong/executive-jd-ejd-concord-law-school … via @venessawwong



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This Online Law School Traps Students With Debt In Exchange For A Worthless Degree
A little-known and lightly regulated online school is offering students a three-year degree in the law with just one catch: They won’t be allowed to be lawyers after they graduate.

Venessa Wong
BuzzFeed News Reporter

Last updated on October 31, 2019, at 10:38 a.m. ET
Posted on October 31, 2019, at 10:12 a.m. ET

What if you spent three years in law school, taking classes in contracts, torts, and constitutional law, and paying more than $11,000 a year, but — here’s the twist — at the end of it you weren't a lawyer? That's what a small number of online law schools are offering with a degree called the Executive Juris Doctor. The schools explain upfront that students won't be eligible to practice law but can use their “advanced legal training in one of the many law-related areas.” Yet many students find that what seems like it could be a leg up amounts to little more than an expensive education in the difference one letter makes.

“I finished July 26 and am looking for a job. I could scream because instead of getting a JD degree qualifying me to take the California Bar, I settled for the underdog degree, EJD. This is a non-bar attorney degree. No one knows what the f--- it is and trying to describe it makes you look like a goddamned fool. Yeah, I screwed myself it appears,” Copperas Cove, Texas, resident Brenda Cuney told BuzzFeed News.

In 2019, Cuney received her degree from Concord Law School, an unaccredited online law school based in Los Angeles, which since 2018 has been part of Purdue University Global, the online arm of the public university in Indiana. She took out the full cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses in student loans, hoping that after she graduated she would land a solid paralegal position. Concord’s website promised to “enhance your career by developing legal expertise.” But in the end, she was left with a degree few — if any — employers recognized, no more of an ability to become a paralegal than when she started, and more than $60,000 in loans (on top of existing debt for her bachelor’s degree). She now works as a substitute teacher, earning roughly $80 per day.

And even though Concord was clear with Cuney about the limitations of the program, legal experts aren’t clear why the program is offered at all. There’s no such thing as an Executive Dentist’s degree, after all (at least that we know of) — where students take dental classes but can’t become dentists. Concord’s EJD program seems built to take advantage of prospects like Cuney — admitting applicants whose test scores are too low for Concord’s JD program, but charging them almost the same tuition to attend the same classes taught by the same instructors, sitting in many of the same online rooms with JD students. The only difference? EJD students like Cuney won’t be allowed to become attorneys at the end of the program.
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And while Concord and Taft offer legitimate classes, Novus has been accused of being a diploma mill. I reached out to Novus from my personal email account using my real name inquiring whether its students could sit for the bar exam, if classes were taught live, and how many students had completed Novus’s EJD program. I later reached out from my work email requesting an interview. A Novus representative replied in an unsigned email that included a threat:

We do not authorize, permit, or allow the use of the Novus University name, site, information, emails, or additional information obtained under false pretenses, to promote buzzfeed.com which would result in hits, links, views, and other stories and would increase financial revenue and ranking for your site at our expense.

If you have an actual story that you are writing, then it is recommended avoiding legal litigation to forward your “story” or writing before posting. Our legal department will seek financial restitution and legal action against yourself and buzzfeed.com. for any listing, promoting, false, and or defamatory use of any unauthorized listing of the Novus University name or program.

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Reply This Online Law School Traps Students With Debt In Exchange For A Worthless Degree (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Oct 31 OP
jberryhill Oct 31 #1
mahatmakanejeeves Oct 31 #2
Blue_Tires Oct 31 #3
More_Cowbell Oct 31 #4
Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin Nov 1 #5
Stuart G Nov 4 #6

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Oct 31, 2019, 02:44 PM

1. While I don't doubt that the programs are of dubious value...


...the story might give an incomplete impression.

Going to law school, of any kind, doesn't guarantee one will qualify to become a lawyer. There are countless persons who have managed to make it through law school, but have not managed to pass a bar exam and/or other qualifications that states have. There are also some students who attend law school for the education, and do not aspire to actually practice law.

On the other hand, there are still four states, California, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington, in which one can qualify to become a lawyer without going to a law school of any kind. The states which offer such apprenticeship qualification get very few takers, but it does happen.

That said, these programs do sound like junk.

One of the leading graduates of Taft Law School:

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Response to jberryhill (Reply #1)

Thu Oct 31, 2019, 02:47 PM

2. Thanks. IANAL.

I knew that Virginia, where I live, will still let you read for the law. I thought that could be done in Tennessee too, but I guess not.

I don't see why Concord graduates can't even sit for the exam. If they pass, then what's the problem?

Thanks again.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Oct 31, 2019, 02:54 PM

3. Caveat emptor?

I hate being that "blame the victim" guy, but the research, reporting and warnings about these for-profit and/or online schools have been widespread for almost 20 years now... Either the degree (With 200% markup for tuition) isn't worth the paper it's printed on, or upon graduation the student discovers that the market is grossly oversaturated (you know, because these schools churn out so many degrees) and their job prospects are minimal. Either way, these students are getting fleeced.

Around 2006, I befriended a dude who was really depressed because the two-year "culinary arts" school he just finished not only put him $100,000 in debt, the only job his school could place him was at one of the Disney properties in Orlando. How was his super-expensive culinary artistry put to use? By slinging burgers and fries of course... Even though he was living in the Disney-provided employee dormitory, his wages after working 10-12 hour days were below slave labor and when he discovered he was literally making less than a high school kid at Wendy's, he tried to commit suicide the first time. Did I mention that he signed a two-year work contract with Disney for those wages??

The semi-good news is he just realized enough was enough and his situation was untenable, so he just up and left -- Went AWOL from his Disney slavemasters and drove all the way home to VA... Thankfully he made full use of the city's mental health support services (which were free to people who could show need, and which is where I first met him) and was working with his family and an attorney to see how he could best un-tangle himself from the web...

Sadly, needs-based mental health services were one of the first things to get cut in the recession of '08 so I don't even want to think about how many people since that time were desperate for help but couldn't get it...

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Thu Oct 31, 2019, 05:57 PM

4. You can take the CA bar exam without going to law school at all

If you go to an ABA-approved law school, you can take any state's bar exam and, if you pass, practice in that state.

If you attend one of the many California law schools that are approved by California but not the ABA, you can take the CA bar exam and practice in CA (but not most states, under most circumstances).

Or you can study on your own and/or work in a law office (sometimes called reading the law, what Kim Kardashian is said to be doing) you can do the same as immediately above.

The year I passed the CA bar exam back in 1991, a woman in San Diego also passed; she raised her toddler while working in her husband's law office. No law school.

Even students who went to ABA-accredited law schools generally take an intensive bar review class in the summer before they take the bar.

The schools that are approved by CA but not the ABA generally fail the ABA's requirement for having full-time professors; many of them have night programs or part-time programs that are taught by actual lawyers. In my opinion the education that you get at most of these schools is comparable to an ABA school. (I attended an ABA school in California.)

Thanks for attending my Ted talk.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Nov 4, 2019, 11:44 AM

6. k and r

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