2022 Inside one of the nation’s few hybrid J.D. programs


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In Might, Syracuse College’s legislation college graduated its top quality of scholars incomes a Juris Physician diploma by way of a hybrid program, known as JDinteractive, or JDi. The 45 class members had been a part of virtually 200 Syracuse college students who obtained a J.D. this yr, based on a university announcement

The non-public nonprofit, situated in upstate New York, received approval from the American Bar Affiliation in 2018 to supply the three-year hybrid program. 

The ABA strictly limits distance training, requiring a waiver for schools that want to supply greater than one-third of their credit on-line. Up to now, the ABA has solely authorised distance training J.D. applications at about a dozen schools, together with Syracuse

Syracuse lauded the scholars within the inaugural class, contending that the group is various, aligning with this system’s aim of accelerating entry to authorized training. The scholars come from 25 states, round one-fourth are members of the navy or are military-affiliated, and 30% are college students of shade. Their median age is 35. 

We spoke with Shannon Gardner, the legislation college’s affiliate dean for on-line training, to study extra about how the hybrid program has advanced and fared since its inception. 

This interview has been edited for readability and brevity. 

HIGHER ED DIVE: What prompted Syracuse to launch the hybrid legislation program?

SHANNON GARDNER: My position as affiliate dean for on-line training began final yr, however I’ve been instructing within the JDi program because it started. I can speak to you about its begin, nevertheless it’s actually from the angle of a school member — not a lot the dean for this system. 

Shannon Gardner

Shannon Gardner

Permission granted by Syracuse College


It was a fortuitous event as a result of we began a hybrid on-line program earlier than COVID. It was at a time when getting on Zoom and different on-line platforms was not a part of everybody’s day-to-day. 

We had been discussing having an internet program for fairly some time. We realized there’s a inhabitants on the market that basically can not attend conventional residential applications. Definitely, for full-time working professionals in a specific space — like Los Angeles or D.C. — they’ll attend legislation college by way of a part-time night program, however the geographic availability of these applications is proscribed. 

There’s a inhabitants on the market of oldsters who have already got a longtime full-time job, who could also be in additional distant areas, who’ve private or household commitments that preclude them attending a full-time residential program. We noticed there are people who find themselves actually enthusiastic about attending legislation college, about pursuing their J.D. and actually are nice candidates for a authorized training, however for whom the standard route simply makes it inaccessible. 

How does the demographic make-up of the JDi college students differ from that of scholars within the conventional program? 

Most of them are employed whereas they’re pursuing their authorized training. The median age of our college students is larger than our residential college students. And definitely we draw from a broader geographic space. Whereas we do have navy and military-affiliated college students in our residential program, we have now the next proportion in our on-line hybrid program. And the vast majority of them are main caregivers for youngsters or different dependents, in order that’s completely different from most of our residential college students.

Had been their outcomes, akin to commencement and retention charges, completely different from these within the conventional program? 

No — related outcomes throughout each populations.

When Syracuse obtained ABA approval to create its JDi program, it was certainly one of solely a handful of applications that was allowed to function with largely on-line coursework. What sort of stress do you suppose that placed on the establishment to show that this might work?

I do not suppose it put stress on the establishment. I taught in this system from its inception. I used to be excited in regards to the alternative. I used to be excited to show that the identical high quality of authorized training could possibly be delivered in an internet format. 

Many of us notice that is the way forward for authorized training — not that it’ll substitute conventional applications. It’s one path to pursue a authorized training that’s right here to remain. I didn’t see it as stress, and I feel, by all accounts, we have now positively confirmed that it’s and could be a success. 

A lot of the professors we make the most of in our on-line program additionally educate within the residential program. So there may be overlap in each professors and courses, which I feel is basically vital. Our college students who graduated from the JDi program had been a part of the identical graduating class, had been ranked together with their residential colleagues. They accomplished the identical necessities as for the residential program. 

My massive factor is, if we make legislation college and the examine of legislation extra accessible, in flip, that makes the authorized occupation extra accessible. All of these issues sign success — not only for authorized training — however actually for the authorized occupation as nicely.


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