November 2, 2019
Following up on yesterday’s blog post, in which I posed the question “Is law school worth it?”, today I pose a somewhat related question: “What is an “Executive J.D.” diploma worth?
The short answer? Zilch.
According to this post at the Buzzfeed website, an “Executive J.D.” program is a three-year program, offered exclusively at on-line, for-profit schools, at the end of which, the graduate can… well, post the diploma on their wall, maybe. Because not only is it not a law degree, it doesn’t even enhance the degree-holder’s credentials for a job as a paralegal.
When Bob Shireman, a former deputy undersecretary of education for then-president Barack Obama and now senior fellow and director of higher education excellence at the Century Foundation, asked his wife, who is a lawyer, and one of his colleagues about the “Executive J.D.” program, “they were like, what? That seems misleading. Or wrong. Or inappropriate. I looked at the [Law School Admission Council] list of types of law degrees, and it’s not there. There’s JD, LLM, legal certificate programs, MS. It is definitely a made-up thing.”
It’s too late for Brenda Cuney. In 2019, Cuney received her degree from Concord Law School, an unaccredited online law school based in Los Angeles, which since 2018 has been part of Purdue University Global, the online arm of the Indiana’s Purdue University. She took out the full cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses in student loans, hoping that after she graduated she would land a solid paralegal position. Concord’s website promised to “enhance your career by developing legal expertise.” But in the end, she was left with a degree few — if any — employers recognized, no more of an ability to become a paralegal than when she started, and more than $60,000 in loans (on top of existing debt for her bachelor’s degree). She now works as a substitute teacher, earning roughly $80 per day.