By David Brand
Queens Daily Eagle
With an online workload and intensive Sunday class schedule, Touro Law Center is making a law degree possible for people who work or raise families full-time — all while complying with American Bar Association standards.
Touro’s new FlexTime program combines an online component with a biweekly, 8-hour class day every other week at the Islip campus. Admissions requirements for the FlexTime program are the same as those for Touro’s existing four and five-year part-time programs.
“This innovative program will provide students with maximum flexibility while maintaining a rigorous course of study that will prepare them for the realities of law practice,” said Dean Harry Ballan. The program uses the latest in evidence-based teaching and learning tools and promises to be both robust and rewarding for all involved.”
The ABA enables accredited law schools to deliver up to one-third of their curriculum online. Though the ABA may give variances to some schools, New York State does not allow students from those schools to sit for the bar exam, said Professor Jack Graves, Touro Law’s director of digital learning.
The composition of Touro’s program complies with ABA standards and thus enables full-time workers and full-time caregivers to earn their license here in New York.
“This is a chance for us to offer part of a law degree in a blended environment that gives students exactly the same degree that everyone else gets,” Grave said. “It’s an intensive weekend and a long Sunday and [students] have to do the work between Sundays.”
Graves compared the FlexTime program to executive MBA programs that have been around for decades and have enabled generations of business people to earn their advanced degrees on weekends.
The blended program appeals to many students and proves far more effective for transferring information, Graves said, though the classroom still provides the best atmosphere for engagement among students and faculty, he added.
“The classroom is ideal for learning to apply the rules of law in an interactive environment,” he said. “And students are interacting with each other between Sunday meetings in a structured environment that allows them interact in real time and sequentially if that works best.”
Graves said the school has developed an effective interactive environment where people do not don’t have to communicate in real time to discuss class material.
During the first two years of the FlexTime program, students attend for three semesters in the fall, spring and summer and complete 24 credits per year, or 48 credits in 24 months.
Students complete the remaining 40 credits during the third and fourth years and do not have to attend campus classes during the summer. Online electives comprise 15 credits.
In general, the program will require students to attend class on campus classes every other Sunday for the first two years.
“We have a long tradition of offering user-friendly educational opportunities that meet the academic and lifestyle needs of our diverse student body,” said Dr. Alan Kadish, president of the Touro College and University System in a statement. “Using the latest technology, this forward-thinking program will help law students pursue high level studies in a flexible way that works for their needs.”