Last month, we talked MOOCs: Massive Online Open Courses. Yale announced that it would offer a Constitutional Law course for free through Coursera and it piqued our interest, as it seems like a good way for John Q. Public to brush up on his rights, and for pre-law folks to sample legal curriculum before dropping six figures on a JD.
(Sidebar: The early reviews, by the way, are the course is good, but the professor is dry. Welcome to law school.)
Yale's venture into free online education got us thinking: how else could MOOCs be useful, specifically for lawyers? Here are a few ideas:
This is the obvious and somehow, not yet pursued path. In my last-minute quest to gather a few CLE credits, I looked into the mass of email-spamming CLE providers and eventually chose one that came with a friend's lukewarm recommendation. ("It's relatively painless.")
Even then, it was $60. And the course was bad. I'm actually not quite sure if I've been to or heard of a good CLE, which is a shame.
MOOCs would be a way for "thought leaders" of our profession to give back, in the form of cheap and free CLEs. Plus, with a platform like Coursera or Udemy, the scalability of the course is nearly infinite.
Help New Lawyers
The natural result of churning out tens of thousands of unemployed barristers each year is a bunch of people opening up their own firms. I flirted with the idea before landing this gig and read nearly every book available on the subject.
How about courses on running your own firm? Business tips, social media management, ethical marketing, firing clients, getting paid, etc. Make it even better by providing CLE credit.
So far, our digging has turned up one such course: Carolyn Elefant's "Launching a Successful 21st Century Law Practice." Should I ever find the time to run through the course, we'll review it here on FindLaw's Technologist. (Her book on the topic, by the way, is excellent.)
For the life of me, even though I used to teach LSAT courses, I have never understood why prep classes cost so much. If it's the overhead, a MOOC format would cut down costs dramatically. (Other than the licensing cost of LSAT questions, the marginal cost of adding more students would be near nothing.)
Even beyond the LSAT, what about those expensive "law school boot camp" courses? They're a great concept -- teach gunners how to study before they even get there -- but they're expensive and usually taught in person. MOOCs address both problems.
Have any other uses in mind for MOOCs? Tweet us your thoughts @FindLawLP.
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