News

ABA Clears the Way for Syracuse University College of Law’s Expansion of its Online JDinteractive Program

The American Bar Association has granted Syracuse University College of Law permission to expand its innovative online law degree program. JDinteractive (JDi) is a fully interactive program that combines live online class sessions with self-paced class sessions, residential courses, and applied learning experiences.

“The College requested expansion of the JDi program in order to meet increasing demand from strong law degree candidates for a high quality, flexible online law degree program that meets their family, work, and other needs,” says Dean Craig M. Boise. “The ABA’s approval is a testament to the successful design of our program, which includes a carefully calibrated mix of live online classes taught by College faculty, self-paced classes, applied learning opportunities, and short residencies.”

In February 2018, the ABA granted a variance to the College of Law to allow JDi enrollment of up to 65 students per academic year. Since its launch in January 2019, the College has seen a robust increase in interest and applications for the degree program. Under the terms of the expanded variance, the College of Law will be permitted to enroll up to 100 students annually in the JDi program.

The College anticipates substantial demand for the JDi program in the coming year, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty for prospective law students as to whether they will be able to attend a residential law program in fall 2020 and beyond.

“Given the uncertain trajectory of the public health crisis, prospective law students—especially those with preexisting conditions or those caring for others—may understandably be more risk-adverse going forward and make the choice to limit in-person contact,” explains Faculty Director of Online Education Nina A. Kohn. “Furthermore, mounting job losses and disruption to families across the country may mean that law students cannot relocate or need to care for family members. With this expansion, we’ll be able to allow more students access to our rigorous program of online legal education so that they don’t have to place their future careers on hold.”

JDi is designed to meet the needs and demands of well-qualified law students for whom a residential program is not feasible. More than half of current JDi students are caregivers for young children or aging relatives; the majority have existing careers; and many are military-connected and thus unable to commit to being in one geographic location for the duration of their law school education. By design, JDi is also uniquely positioned to accommodate students with disabilities, which reflects the College’s long history as a leader in disability law and policy.

“The decision of the ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar recognizes that JDi has the capacity and infrastructure to expand without risk to the quality of either our online or residential J.D. education,” adds Kohn. “Since its launch, our program has seen remarkable success in terms of the academic credentials of the students enrolled, the quality of instruction and support for students, and their academic performance.”

The College will begin to receive Fall 2021 applications in September 2020.

College of Law Student Hosts ABA Law Student Division Podcast

Meghan SteenburghMeghan Steenburgh, a first-year student in the Syracuse University College of Law’s JDinteractive program, is one of the hosts of the American Bar Association (ABA) Law Student Division podcast for 2020. Throughout the year, Steenburgh will be contributing interview-style podcasts to the ABA’s series.

Her first podcast—an interview with Dan Sullivan, US Senator from Alaska—is now online. In the podcast, Steenburgh interviews Sullivan about his time in law school, his legal practice, service in the US Marines, and as a Senator.

Steenburgh is a graduate of Georgetown University and holds a Master of Science in Broadcast Journalism from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Her status as a law school student follows a career in broadcast journalism, corporate communications, politics, and state government.

 

Syracuse University College of Law and Martin J. Whitman School of Management Launch Nation’s First Online Joint JD/MBA Degree

Online JD/MBASyracuse University College of Law announces the launch of the nation’s first online joint JD/MBA degree program, in partnership with Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management. The new joint degree combines the College of Law’s ground-breaking, ABA-accredited JDinteractive program with the Whitman School’s highly ranked MBA@Syracuse program.

“As we’ve learned from decades of success with our joint residential JD/MBA with the Whitman School, there is strong demand for a joint law and business education,” says College of Law Dean Craig M. Boise. “JDinteractive attracts many students whose careers, credentials, and ambitions are a natural fit for a dual law and business curriculum. It makes sense to partner with our colleagues at the Whitman School to make this curriculum available online.”

“In a globalized, interconnected marketplace, business leaders must constantly consider legal and regulatory frameworks. Across the spectrum of daily business transactions, legal considerations increasingly occupy a prominent place in boardroom discussions,” says Whitman Dean Gene Anderson. “An unprecedented option for students who wish to change careers or improve credentials, the new online JD/MBA provides even greater access to the high-quality legal and business education offered by two nationally ranked schools.”

Students admitted to the joint program will earn their JD degree through the College of Law’s innovative JDinteractive (JDi) program. JDi courses are conducted primarily online, with each course consisting of both self-paced class sessions and live class sessions taught by the College’s faculty. In addition, JDi students participate in six intensive residencies, which provide them with an opportunity to develop key professional skills. JDi students take all courses required of students in Syracuse’s residential JD program, select from elective courses, participate in student organizations, and receive hands-on experiential learning and skills-building training.

Online JD/MBA students earn their master’s degree in business administration through the Whitman School’s MBA@Syracuse. Recognized for its strong alumni outcomes, MBA@Syracuse is ranked among the Top 40 Best Online MBAs by U.S. News & World Report and among the Top 25 Best Online MBAs by The Princeton Review. Accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, MBA@Syracuse features the same curriculum content as the on-campus MBA program and blends multimedia coursework with live, online classes and hands-on residency experiences.

JDi students will be eligible to apply to the joint JD/MBA degree program starting in 2020. Before starting the online MBA portion of the joint degree, JDi students must be separately admitted to the Whitman School, have completed 34 credits of law school, and meet all defined academic requirements.

“This is a real first for legal education,” explains Nina Kohn, David M. Levy Professor of Law and Faculty Director of Online Education at the College of Law. “Through the JDi program, we’ve been able to expand access to legal education to remarkably talented students for whom a residential JD education was out of reach, whether because of family obligations, military service, or the demands of their careers. Now we are poised to open the door of opportunity even wider—finally making a joint JD/MBA a real possibility for these students.”

Those interested in earning their JD/MBA through the new program may email onlineJD@law.syr.edu or call 315.443.1262.

Syracuse University College of Law Welcomes JDinteractive Class of 2023

On Aug. 12, 2019, Syracuse University College of Law welcomed 50 new students into JDinteractive (JDi), the College’s ABA-accredited, fully interactive online law degree program. This is the second group of students to matriculate into the first-of-its-kind program, which combines intensive on-campus courses with online courses that contain both self-paced and live class sessions.

The new JDi students began their law degree studies with a weeklong residency in Syracuse, NY, where they took an immersive course designed to introduce them to the American legal system. The students also took part in other academic and social activities—along with new residential juris doctor, JDi Class of 2022, and masters of laws students—including meeting with distinguished alumni and attending a baseball game on August 14 between the Syracuse Mets and Durham Bulls at NBT Stadium.

“JDinteractive once again has attracted a talented and ambitious group of students. I could not be more pleased to welcome them into the College of Law community and to a law degree program that is reimagining how legal education is delivered in the 21st century,” says College of Law Dean Craig M. Boise. “I strongly believe their diversity of background and perspectives will broaden and deepen the student’s law school experience. I have no doubt this cohort will represent the College strongly and leverage their legal knowledge for the benefit of the profession and of society.”

The JDi Class of 2023 gathers a diverse group of individuals from across the United States:

  • The cohort’s average age is 35.
  • One-third identify as students of color.
  • The students represent 29 states, including Alaska and Hawaii.
  • Thirty percent were the first in their families to attend college.
  • Approximately a quarter are members of the military or military-affiliated, including graduates of the US Naval Academy and US Coast Guard Academy, a retired US Army sergeant, a Lieutenant in the US Navy, and a US Marine Corps Master Sergeant.

JDinteractive is designed to work with the schedules of students who are currently employed or have other commitments. Looking at students’ occupations, among the members of the Class of 2023 are an environmental supervisor for a multinational packaged foods company, a law firm chief operating officer, a police officer, a political media consultant, a vice president of sales in the telecommunications industry, a professor of musicology, a preventive case worker, an attending emergency physician, a pastor, a structural designer, a legislative analyst, and the founder of an insurance consulting firm.

“We designed JDinteractive to deliver Syracuse University College of Law’s J.D. program to well-qualified students who cannot relocate for a residential program, but who nevertheless desire a high-caliber legal education,” says Associate Dean of Online Education and David M. Levy Professor of Law Nina Kohn. “The students themselves are proof that the program has the ingredients to entice highly motivated, deeply experienced, and academically strong individuals. Indeed, among the Class of 2023 are the holders of a Ph.D. in Computer Science, an M.B.A. in Accounting, a D.O. in Osteopathic Medicine, an M.S.L. in Business Law, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, to name a few.”

JDinteractive Class of 2023

Law Review Symposium Addresses Impacts of Online Education on Law Schools & the Legal Profession

On April 26, 2019, Syracuse University College of Law and Syracuse Law Review hosted a first-of-its-kind symposium on online education and its impact on law schools and the legal profession. “Online Learning and the Future of Legal Education” convened a diverse group of leading thinkers—including a number of current and former law school deans—to discuss best practices in online learning, to share and evaluate different learning models, and to explore the implications for the legal profession and access to justice more broadly.

Introduced by Associate Dean of Online Education Nina Kohn and Syracuse Law Review Editor-in-Chief 3L Shelby Mann, the symposium opened with presentations on best practices in online law teaching, moderated by College of Law E.I. White Chair and Distinguished Professor of Law Robin Paul Malloy. University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz explained how law teaching excellence is not “modality dependent” and suggested that the most effective form of law teaching would likely include both residential and online components. Texas A&M Clinical Associate Professor Noelle Sweany then shared best practices for designing and developing engaging online courses.

Subsequent morning presentations focused on the impact of online education on the legal profession and those it serves. In the session moderated by College of Law Executive Director of Online Education Kathleen O’Connor, Touro Law Center Professor Jack Graves spoke about “hybrid models” for legal education, while Professor David Thomson, of the University of Denver Strum School of Law, looked toward the future of legal education. In his talk, Eric S. Janus, former President and Dean of William Mitchell College of Law, described how attitudes toward hybrid legal education are indeed shifting.

A lunchtime conversation between College of Law Dean Craig M. Boise and online legal education pioneer Barry Currier, Managing Director of Accreditation and Legal Education at the American Bar Association, saw Currier raise the issue of whether law schools are currently underutilizing online learning and ask, rhetorically, how long it would be before the ABA approves a fully online law degree program.

College of Law Associate Dean for Faculty Research Lauryn Gouldin moderated the afternoon session. Texas A&M’s Professor James McGrath and Dean Andrew Morriss explored how online legal education could help close the “justice gap” by training lawyers to practice where they are needed. Professor Victoria Sutton, of Texas Tech University School of Law, then compared two online learning models—asynchronous and hybrid e-learning—with the traditional classroom. Rounding out the presentations, Kellye Testy, President & CEO of the Legal School Admission Council, shared data on how the move toward online education aligns with other trends in legal education and law school enrollment.

“What I learned at the Symposium validates my belief that we have arrived at a critical and exciting inflection point in the delivery of legal education,” noted Dean Boise, thanking the participants. “Improvements in online pedagogy and delivery give us—indeed, force us—to rethink how we do legal education and what it means to ‘do it right’! I couldn’t have asked for a better group to examine the challenges and ample opportunities that lay ahead.”

It is no coincidence that the College of Law—which enrolled the first cohort into JDinteractive, its live, online law degree program, in January 2019—hosted this ground-breaking symposium.

“Online education—and its impact on legal education, the legal profession, and those it serves—is an issue that Syracuse scholars and educators care deeply about,” explains Associate Dean of Online Education and David M. Levy Professor of Law Nina Kohn. “Our faculty and staff have worked diligently and carefully to develop an online law degree program that we believe can expand access to legal education to talented students and be a model for other schools seeking to move into this space.”

To continue the Symposium’s inquiries and scholarship, “Online Learning and the Future of Legal Education” will result in a Syracuse Law Review issue devoted entirely to exploring questions raised about online education.

Symposium Papers

“The Hybrid Model for Legal Education: Better Teachers, Greater Access, and Better Future Lawyers”
Jack Graves, Professor of Law and Director of Digital Legal Education, Touro Law Center 

“The ‘Worst Idea Ever!’—Lessons from One Law School’s Pioneering Embrace of Online Learning Methods”
Eric S. Janus, former President and Dean, Mitchell Hamline School of Law (formerly William Mitchell College of Law)

“Online Legal Education and Access to Legal Education and the Legal System”
James McGrath, Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic Support, Bar Passage, and Compliance, Texas A&M School of Law
Andrew P. Morriss, Dean, School of Innovation and Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, Texas A&M University 

“Pernicious Legal Education Myths: Towards a Modality-Less Model for Excellence”
Michael Hunter Schwartz, Dean and Professor of Law, University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law

“A Comparative Study with the Traditional Classroom”
Victoria Sutton, Paul Whitfield Horn Professor and Associate Dean for Digital Learning and Graduate Education, Texas Tech University School of Law

“From Theory to Practice: Evidence-Based Strategies for Designing and Developing Engaging Online Courses”
Noelle Sweany, Clinical Associate Professor, Educational Psychology, Texas A & M University Department of Education and Human Development

“The Promise of Online Educational Platforms for Law and Legal Education”
Kellye Testy, President and CEO, Law School Admission Council and Professor of Law, University of Washington School of Law

“How Online Learning Will Transform Legal Education”
David Thomson, Professor of Practice and John C. Dwan Professor for Online Learning, University of Denver Strum School of Law

Syracuse University College of Law, Syracuse Law Review to Host Symposium on Online Learning and the Future of Legal Education, April 26, 2019

On April 26, 2019, Syracuse Law Review will bring together legal education experts from across the country for a ground-breaking symposium exploring the impact of online education on law schools and the legal profession. The one-day symposium—“Online Learning and the Future of Legal Education”—will explore the challenges and opportunities presented by online learning.

The symposium comes at an important moment in legal education. Around the nation, law schools and law professors are pioneering new forms of online teaching. Many law schools now make select courses available online or have launched online master’s degree programs. A handful of schools—including Syracuse University College of Law—are even bringing their JD programs online. This new reality raises important questions and theoretical challenges for legal education and the practice of law more broadly.

The symposium will result in the first Law Review issue devoted entirely to exploring these questions. Authors presenting papers addressing the impact of online education on the legal profession include:

  • Jack Graves, Professor of Law and Director of Digital Legal Education, Touro Law Center
  • Andrew P. Morriss, Dean, School of Innovation and Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, Texas A&M University
  • Eric S. Janus, President and Dean, William Mitchell College of Law
  • Nina Kohn, David M. Levy Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Online Education, Syracuse University College of Law
  • James McGrath, Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic Support, Bar Passage, and Compliance, Texas A&M School of Law
  • Michael Hunter Schwartz, Dean and Professor of Law, University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law
  • Victoria Sutton, Paul Whitfield Horn Professor and Associate Dean for Digital Learning and Graduate Education, Texas Tech University School of Law
  • Noelle Sweany, Clinical Associate Professor, Educational Psychology, Texas A & M University Department of Education and Human Development
  • Kellye Testy, President and CEO, Law School Admission Council and Professor of Law, University of Washington School of Law
  • David Thomson, Professor of Practice and John C. Dwan Professor for Online Learning, University of Denver Strum School of Law

In addition, the symposium will feature a lunchtime conversation on the regulatory and accreditation landscape for legal education with Barry Currier, Managing Director, Accreditation and Legal Education, American Bar Association. The conversation will be moderated by Syracuse University College of Law Dean Craig M. Boise.

To learn more about the Symposium and to read the full schedule and list of papers, visit law.syr.edu/online-learning-symposium-2019.

Notice About LSAT Waivers

Beginning with the class entering in Fall 2019, applicants to Syracuse University College of Law who have taken the GRE may be eligible for an LSAT waiver. The LSAT waiver is conditional upon faculty admissions committee approval and will be considered in limited circumstances where the LSAT is not available or practicable, financial hardship exists, the GRE was taken in the process of applying for another graduate degree program, or for other good cause shown. GRE scores can be no more than five years old from the date of application to the College of Law. Before applying, applicants pursuing an LSAT waiver should email admissions@law.syr.edu or call 315.443.1962.

Welcome to the JDi Class of 2022

The JDi Class of 2022—the inaugural cohort of Syracuse’ online law degree program—spent the week of Jan. 7-11, 2019, in Syracuse for its matriculation, orientation, and first residency. During the week, the students attended a Convocation ceremony; took foundational courses; attended faculty, student, and alumni panels; visited the local federal courthouse; and even watched Syracuse Orange beat Clemson in a basketball game at the Carrier Dome. Welcome to Syracuse, students. We’re so glad you have chosen to join our family and pioneer our new program!

College of Law Matriculates Inaugural JDinteractive Class

JDi Class of 2022On Jan. 7, 2019, Syracuse University College of Law matriculated 32 students into the inaugural JDinteractive (JDi) class in a ceremony in the Melanie Gray Ceremonial Courtroom, Dineen Hall. JDinteractive is the nation’s first fully interactive online law degree. The ABA-accredited program combines live, online classes with self-paced classes and short residencies. JDi is designed to deliver the College of Law’s J.D. program to well-qualified students who cannot relocate for a residential program but who desire a high-caliber legal education.

The diverse and academically accomplished JDi Class of 2022 will spend the week of January 7-11 on the Syracuse University campus as part of its first residency. During the residency, students will take an intensive and immersive course designed to introduce them to the American legal system. JDi students also will meet with members of the College and University community, including Chancellor and President Kent Syverud, and enjoy a traditional Orange Nation tailgate party before watching Syracuse Orange play Clemson Tigers in an ACC basketball game.

In welcoming the JDi Class of 2022 to the College of Law and to the University, Convocation speaker Adam J. Katz L’04, Assistant US Attorney for the Northern District of New York, said, “You are pioneers. You are students who embody the College of Law’s long-held dream of expanding its legal education beyond Syracuse, and we landed one heck of an inaugural class!”

Members of the JDi Class of 2022 are illustrative of the experienced, talented, and service-oriented students JDi has been designed to attract.

  • Among the cohort are 15 military and military-affiliated students, including senior and non-commissioned officers and military spouses.
  • JDi students come to the program with substantial professional accomplishments in a broad range of fields—from health care to finance to social justice. The program welcomes medical professionals; paralegals; business owners and executives; real estate professionals; an environmental engineer; a border patrol guard; a social worker; and leaders of not-for-profit organizations.
  • JDi students also exemplify a commitment to community service. In addition to military servicemembers, the cohort includes caregivers, community advocates and mentors, a choir director, and a volunteer football coach.
  • Additionally, a number of students start the JDi program holding other advanced degrees in science, business, and social work.

JDinteractive aims to increase diversity within the legal profession by making a high-quality legal education accessible for students for whom one might otherwise be out of reach. The inaugural class demonstrates this diversity:

  • 41% are first-generation College students.
  • The average age of JDi students is 35.
  • Students arrive in Syracuse from 20 states, as well as from Germany, Tanzania, and Japan.

“Congratulations to the inaugural JDinteractive Class of 2022. This professionally accomplished, service-minded group of students joins a truly groundbreaking program that raises the bar for online legal education and expands access to legal education in general,” says Syracuse University Chancellor and President Kent Syverud. “I commend College of Law Dean Craig Boise and University College Dean Mike Frasciello for forming a partnership that harnesses the online learning expertise developed by University College to translate the J.D. program into a format for working adults and others who seek a high-quality online law degree program. I am particularly pleased that service members and military spouses are represented in this cohort. I wish all the students and the program well, and I look forward to tracking their progress.”

“The matriculation of the JDi Class of 2022 marks a banner day for the College of Law. Designed with 21st-century practice in mind—like our residential J.D. program—JDinteractive will provide our online law students the knowledge and skills to thrive in the modern legal community,” says College of Law Dean Craig M. Boise. “I could not be happier that these academically impressive students have chosen to be the pioneers of our program, and I am excited to see what they, as the newest members of the College of Law family, will achieve.”

Delivering the College of Law’s outstanding legal education beyond its Central New York campus, JDinteractive incorporates both an interactive learning platform and technology-enabled services. JDi is a year-round, 10-semester course of study designed to be completed over three years and three months, with students taking an average of nine credits per semester. Online students take the same required courses as residential students, select among elective courses, and are provided with hands-on experiential learning and skills-building classes. To accommodate the schedules of students with work or other commitments, evening and weekend classes are offered.

A hallmark of JDinteractive is that more than half of class time takes place in “real-time,” with online students and professors interacting live in a virtual classroom. Self-paced class sessions with interactive exercises complement these live sessions. Students also attend in-person, short-residency courses on campus and at satellite locations. In addition, JDi students have the opportunity to participate in student organizations and to complete a legal externship—gaining critical practical legal experience—before graduation.

“Over the past four years, College of Law faculty and staff have worked to develop a program that we believe will set the standard for online legal education,” says Associate Dean for Online Education Nina Kohn. “We’ve designed JDinteractive to combine the best of what happens in Dineen Hall’s classrooms with the power of technology to create an even more personalized and flexible approach to teaching and learning.”

In February 2018, the American Bar Association granted the College of Law a variance from ABA rules that limit online legal education to offer JDinteractive. As part of the variance process, the program’s design was closely reviewed by legal education experts.

Law Library Prepares for the First JDinteractive Class to Start in January 2019

Thirty-four thousand electronic titles. Forty-seven licensed database systems. An interactive classroom for research training. Cameras and microphones at the ready. Marshaling these substantial academic and research resources, the librarians at the College of Law Library are preparing to welcome the inaugural class of JDinteractive online law degree program students when they arrive on campus for their first residency session in January 2019.

While they’re in Syracuse, JDi students will meet the librarians and library staff, get registered for online databases, and learn and practice the search techniques that they will use throughout their degree program.

One of the features that distinguishes legal reference is that it’s almost never “short answer.” When a librarian meets with a student in Dineen Hall, they are sure to say, “Please, sit, so we can talk about the research problem you’re trying to solve.” Because JDinteractive emulates the first-class academic experience students receive in Syracuse’s residential J.D. program, that’s also the reference experience JDi students will have remotely—using interactive video and split screen technology so librarians and students can see both each other and the online research tools they’re learning to use.

What about traditional legal research tools for the online students? With 103,000 print titles and more than 1 million legal documents in microform, the College of Law Library has a wealth of resources to offer students through its Digitization on Demand and Document Delivery programs. In addition, specialized treatises will be sent to JDi students in upper level courses, the same way that libraries use Interlibrary Loan to share books with users.

“The services provided by the Law Library mirror the research environment that law students will find in law practice,” says Library Director Jan Fleckenstein. “Because all of our students—residential and online—have access to a wide range of online research tools, as well as librarians skilled in helping them navigate the legal information environment, they will be well prepared to do effective legal research throughout their careers.”