Improving Access to Legal Education

Improving Access to Legal Education

Committed to offering flexible pathways to the legal profession, The Colleges of Law was the first accredited law school in California to develop a Hybrid J.D. program.

The devastating impact of the 2008 recession reverberated throughout the legal education landscape, casting a shadow of doubt on the once-revered value of a law degree. As online learning began transforming various academic fields, legal studies remained stagnant. Prospective law students were seeking alternative fields, leaving institutions like The Colleges of Law uncertain about the future.

Recognizing the barriers to pursuing a traditional legal education faced by individuals with work or family responsibilities, The Colleges of Law and The Community Solution Education System collaborated to pioneer the development of a groundbreaking Hybrid J.D. program.

Innovation Through Collaboration

Each year, The Community Solution extends seed funding opportunities to its institutions, fostering a culture of innovation and bold ideas. Knowing the pressing issues facing legal education, The Colleges of Law turned to The Community Solution for collaborative support in seeking solutions.

Their efforts culminated in a groundbreaking “Hack the J.D.” event. During this transformative gathering, esteemed legal experts, including Oliver Goodenough and Joan Howarth, dedicated 36 hours to envisioning a cutting-edge J.D. program that equips graduates with the comprehensive skills and knowledge required to effectively serve clients and uphold the public good. This visionary initiative sought to challenge conventional wisdom, revolutionizing legal education by reimagining its core tenets. Participants carefully evaluated the existing model, expertly discerning aspects to abandon, preserve, and introduce. The result was the creation of the Hybrid J.D. program.

Today, The Colleges of Law has evolved into a thriving institution, establishing themselves as mavericks willing to look at legal education through a modern, creative lens.

Breaking the Mold

The Hybrid J.D. program at The Colleges of Law challenges conventional notions of legal education by seamlessly integrating online learning with immersive residencies, equipping students to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of the legal profession. By blending online coursework with in-person instruction, The Colleges of Law revolutionized the way legal education is delivered, opening doors to students who may otherwise be unable to pursue their dreams.

The program breathed new life into enrollment figures at The Colleges of Law and put it at the forefront of legal education during a time when enrollment in traditional J.D. programs was declining. Embracing the Hybrid J.D., 43% of incoming students at The Colleges of Law opted for this innovative program. This boost in enrollment propelled the institution from fourth to first in enrollment among State Bar of California accredited law schools in 2018. Support from The Community Solution not only revitalized the college but also served as a testament to the transformative power of collaboration, showcasing how even small institutions can blaze trails when armed with the right support.

The Future of Law School

Today, The Colleges of Law has evolved into a thriving institution, establishing themselves as mavericks willing to look at legal education through a modern, creative lens. The development of the Hybrid J.D. increased the diversity of its student body, supporting the college’s desire to build a more inclusive and diverse legal profession.

In 2023, The Colleges of Law was among an inaugural group of legal employers and the only law school to be awarded a DEI Leadership Seal by the State Bar of California. The award was a significant milestone for The Colleges of Law, highlighting its leadership role in fostering diversity and inclusion within legal education. These efforts reflect the college’s commitment to nurturing future legal professionals who will advocate for justice and equality in their communities.

With instrumental guidance and partnership from The Community Solution, The Colleges of Law continues to make a significant impact, offering a unique legal education for aspiring lawyers who bring unique perspectives and experiences to the profession.

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