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For most law students, remote classes didn't make the grade - report

4 minute read

REUTERS/Emily Elconin

  • Students who experienced law school before the pandemic were more likely to be dissatisfied with online learning.
  • Remote classes gave students more time to care for family, work a job and study.

(Reuters) - Most law school students who took their courses completely or largely online during the coronavirus pandemic rated the quality of their education during that period as less than "good" in a new survey conducted by AccessLex Institute and Gallup. But remote learning brought benefits, too.

AccessLex, a nonprofit aiming to make law school more accessible, published data on Wednesday from a survey of more than 1,700 students. It found that second- and third-year students were more likely than first years to be dissatisfied with online learning. Just 43% rated it as "good" or "excellent," while nearly 90% gave their pre-pandemic education high ratings.

About 65% of first-year students rated their online education as at least "good."

The pandemic prompted U.S. law schools to shutter campuses in the spring of 2020. Many schools began offering hybrid or in-person options by last fall or this spring, but more than 70% of respondents were still taking classes mostly or completely online those semesters.

Those who took classes in-person versus online were more likely to report that they had easy access to their school's career services and academic resources. They were also more likely to feel close to their peers – fewer than one-third of online students said they felt a sense of community at school, compared to nearly half of in-person students.

AccessLex found benefits to online learning, too. Remote learning could make law school more accessible for students who need to parent or work. Forty-seven percent of respondents said that online classes gave them more time to care for family members. More than 20% said it gave them time to work a paid job.

And online students reported similar academic performances to those who attended class in-person. That could be because 37% of online students said being remote gave them more time to study.

The pandemic also gave schools a lesson on what works in online learning and what doesn't.

Students were more likely to be satisfied with remote courses if their professors used a variety of teaching methods, including online discussions, quizzes and live lectures, and if they still had access to student life activities.

Read More:

Law student sues Harvard over tuition costs of remote courses

Berkeley Law is latest top school to hold classes online in the fall

Columbia Law plans on in-person classes with remote options for Fall 2020

Caroline Spiezio covers legal industry news, with a focus on law firms and in-house counsel. She is based in New York. Reach her at Caroline.Spiezio@thomsonreuters.com.

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