Juris Doctor-Executive Track℠ Independent Study Program
Taft Law School offers two distinctive Juris Doctor-Executive Track℠ Programs. This section of the website describes the program that includes independent study courses. (Information on the Juris Doctor-Executive Track℠ Program that includes telecommunications courses can be found HERE.)
The legal system has an ever increasing impact on both the personal and business lives of nearly all individuals. The Juris Doctor-Executive Track℠ Independent Study Program (hereinafter sometimes referred to as the Program) is designed for individuals who desire a broad based education in business law to enhance their current career, to obtain a clearer understanding of the regulatory process, to increase their ability to interact with the legal system, to improve their ability to anticipate potential legal problems both personally and professionally, or simply for personal enrichment. In addition to obtaining a comprehensive legal education in matters related to business, graduates benefit from increased analytical reasoning and communication skills. The Juris Doctor-Executive Track℠ Independent Study Program is not intended to, and will not, qualify graduates to sit for any bar examination. As such, it is not subject to certain California Bar mandated study requirements of the Juris Doctor-Attorney Track℠ Program. This affords the student greater flexibility in the completion of the Program. For many, it is the best alternative for individuals that hold a strong interest in the law but have no desire to become an attorney.
Many law school graduates use their legal knowledge in areas outside the legal profession. Accountants, medical professionals, law enforcement officers, educators, and many others have found legal training to be beneficial in their daily activities as well as increasing their career opportunities.
Due to regulatory changes, Taft Law School is not accepting for admission, applicants who reside in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
The Juris Doctor-Executive Track℠ Independent Study Program utilizes a directed independent study learning modality. requiring no classroom or seminar attendance. Prior Taft law students have resided in all regions of the United States as well as in Asia and Europe.
The JDET℠ Program requires three academic years of study. (An academic year is defined as a period of time of not less than 48 nor more than 52 consecutive weeks.) Elective courses are generally six weeks in length. Students may complete the Program in as little as three years or may take up to seven years.
Instructional Policies and Methods
In the Juris Doctor-Executive Track℠ Independent Study Program, all students are provided with a syllabus for each of the year’s courses containing expected student learning outcomes, required materials, lesson assignments and examination procedures.
Although students are provided with a schedule of recommended weekly lesson assignments, the timing of the completion of these assignments within the 48 to 52 week academic year generally lies with the student. This format allows maximum flexibility in allocating time between a student’s academic, professional, and personal life.
While faculty and counseling services are available, this Program does not provide for the regular and substantive interaction with faculty required in Taft Law School’s telecommunications courses.
The Program utilizes materials available at virtually every elite law school in the United States. In addition to casebooks, of equal importance are treatises, outlines and audio lectures recorded by some of the most prestigious law professors in the United States, and other study aids. Simple “busy work” found in many programs is eliminated. Students, with the advice of faculty, are encouraged to emphasize the study methods they find most beneficial.
The Program also offers optional real-time Electronic Classroom sessions.
A significant difference between the Juris Doctor-Executive Track℠ Independent Program and a traditional law program is the study methods used in the Program. Traditional programs historically rely heavily on casebooks and often require students to brief hundreds of cases. Although Juris Doctor-Executive Track℠ Independent Study Program students also study cases in each course, the Program places greater emphasis on direct sources of the “black letter” law such as outlines, treatises, audio lectures and other study aids. In most courses, the casebooks are optional materials. When students are required to brief specific cases, those cases can be found on the Taft Law School supplied Lexis Advance® legal database.
The Juris Doctor-Executive Track℠ Independent Study Program places a greater emphasis on learning practical skills than the School’s Juris Doctor-Attorney Track℠ Independent Study Program which is designed in part to prepare students for the bar examination. In the Juris Doctor-Executive Track℠ Independent Study Program students are tested through objective questions and written projects as well as timed bar examination style questions.
As noted above, certain assignments require the use of the Lexis Advance® online library. (Students have access to Lexis Advance® through the Internet with no hourly usage charges.) This library, which includes online tutorials, can be accessed through a personal computer from any location that has Internet access. The service contains major archives of United States federal and state case law, continuously updated statutes of all 50 states, state and federal regulations, administrative rulings, law review articles, and numerous other legal resources.
Admission Policies and Requirements
Consistent with Taft Law School’s stated Mission of providing educational opportunities to individuals who are mature adults, employed on a full-time basis, or for whom place of residence or travel requirements are constraining factors, the School has instituted four classifications of applicants. All admission decisions are made without regards to sex, race, color, ancestry, religious creed, national origin, disability, medical condition, age, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or veteran status.
Applicants who have earned a bachelor's degree or higher from a college or university accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education generally qualify as regular applicants. The majority of applicants to this Program are mature adults working in a variety of professional settings. Many have not attended college for several years. Consequently, prior class rank and grade point average are not significant factors in the admission process.
Individuals who do not qualify as a regular applicant, may apply as a special applicant. Special applicants must, at a minimum, satisfy the standards established by the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California with respect to pre-legal education. In the past, special applicants have represented less than five percent of total Program admissions.
By definition, a special admissions policy considers each applicant on a case-by-case basis. Other than the minimum threshold mandated by the Committee of Bar Examiners, the School has not developed any pre-established criteria for special admissions. In the admission of special applicants, the major consideration is whether the applicant has the ability to succeed in the Program and if the applicant will benefit from the Program. Special admission policies have historically served valuable social purposes.
All special applicants must be interviewed by a faculty member and provide supplemental application information. (The interview can either take place in the School’s offices or via telephone.) The recommendation of the faculty member and the approval of the Dean or Associate Dean are required for admission.
Applicants Educated Outside of the United States
It is necessary for applicants holding earned degrees from colleges or universities outside of the United States to obtain an evaluation of their education from a credential evaluation service approved by the State Bar of California. Upon request, the School’s Admissions Office will provide a list of approved evaluators.
In addition, applicants whose native language is not English and who have not earned a degree from an accredited institution where English is the principal language of instruction must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The minimum score for the paper based version is 550 or the equivalent.
Taft Law School welcomes applications from students seeking to transfer from other law schools. Applicants seeking advanced standing should submit a transcript of all previous law study along with the Application for Admission Form. All prospective transfer students are individually evaluated for purposes of awarding transfer credit. Among the factors considered in such an evaluation are the grades of the applicant in law courses completed, the law school where the courses were completed, and the period of time since the courses were completed.
All applicants who wish to be admitted as third or fourth year students as well as some prospective second year students must obtain an evaluation from the Committee of Bar Examiners of past studies and proposed studies.
Taft Law School admission representatives will assist transfer students in the preparation of a proposed plan of study.
Curriculum and Degree Requirements
To graduate from the Juris Doctor-Executive Track℠ Independent Study Program, a student must complete the curriculum described below (a minimum of 75 units) with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.00. The requirements may be completed in as little as three years and must be completed within seven years from the date of initial enrollment.
The tuition for the Juris Doctor–Executive Track℠ Independent Study Program is $365.00 per unit ($8,760.00 for year one; and an average of $9,307.50 for years two and three). Tuition rates are “locked” for thirty-six months at the time of matriculation. An enrolled student will be protected from future tuition increases during this period of time. Additional information on financial aid and tuition financing can be found under Financial Aid.
All of the fees on this schedule are non-refundable.
The cost of required books and materials is not included in the tuition. The current average annual costs for the required materials is approximately $1500.00. Most books and materials may be purchased through any legal book store. However, students will always be provided with mail and/or online sources for obtaining any required materials. Taft Law School does not sell books or study aids.
This link leads to a page that includes information related to this Program required to be provided to interested parties by the United States Department of Education. That page discusses Gainful Employment information regarding the cost of the Program, the financing of the Program, and student success in the Program. Taft Law School administration and faculty recommend that students and prospective students carefully review this information in conjunction with the School’s General Catalog and the Catalog Supplement for this Program as well as the The Taft University System Consumer Guide Catalog Supplement and the Faculty Catalog Supplement.
Guideline 11.3 of the Guidelines for Unaccredited Law School Rules provides:
The method of instruction at Taft Law School for professional law degree programs is principally by correspondence.
Completion of a professional law degree program at this law school other than for the Juris Doctor-Attorney Track does not qualify a student to take the California Bar Examination or to satisfy the requirements for admission to practice law in California. It may not qualify a student to take the bar examination or to satisfy the requirements for admission to the practice of law in any other jurisdiction. A student intending to seek admission to practice law should contact the admitting authority in the jurisdictions where the student intends to seek to qualify to sit for the bar examination or for admission to practice for information regarding the legal education requirements in that jurisdiction for admission to the practice of law.
How to Enroll
To apply for admission to the Juris Doctor Executive Track℠ Independent Study Program, an applicant must first complete Taft Law School’s Application for Admission form and submit it to the Admissions Office. There is no application fee.
Applicants seeking transfer credit for courses completed at other law schools must also provide, a transcript documenting all prior law study and the Transfer Student Evaluation Fee.
It is not necessary to submit official transcripts at the time of application. (However, official transcripts must be received by the School within 45 days of enrollment. The School provides students with a form which may be used for this purpose.)
If the applicant is accepted for admission to the Program, an enrollment commitment form will be prepared and sent to the applicant. At the time the commitment material and the $100.00 commitment fee is received by the Admissions Office, a formal enrollment agreement will be prepared and sent to the applicant for review and signature. All payments submitted for tuition and fees must be payable in U.S. dollars. Payments may be made by major credit cards (MasterCard® / Visa® / American Express®) or personal/business checks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What books and other materials are utilized in the Program?
A. In the field of law, there are literally dozens of textbooks on any given subject. The books and other resource materials used in the Program were selected by the faculty to give our students a direct black letter approach to learning the law. These materials are published by the leading legal book publishers and are available at most ABA law school bookstores and other legal book outlets including many Internet sources.
Q. Does Taft Law School use the "case method" of study in the Program?
A. The case method, also often referred to as the Socratic method, is a method of learning first implemented by in the early 20th century by Harvard and Columbia law schools. The case method requires students examine ("brief") and discuss actual court decisions. In recent years a growing number of legal educators have expressed dissatisfaction with this model. In 2007 the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education released a report which recommended sweeping changes in how law was taught. These recommendations included de-emphasizing the case method of instruction.
While the Carnegie report questioned the value of the case method in classroom programs, our experience has shown that it has even less value in a distance learning program. Historically the greater emphasis a distance law school places on the case method, the lower the bar examination pass rate. Most Taft Law School courses utilize "casebooks," but of equal importance are treatises, outlines, recorded lectures and other study aids.
Q. How are grades and final examinations handled?
A. Each course syllabus sets forth the requirement for the course. Certain courses require proctored examinations. For the majority of courses students are evaluated on research assignments and timed closed book examinations.
Q. What type of preparation is advisable for the study of law?
A. Successful law students have come from all walks of life and educational backgrounds. Consequently, the School does not prescribe a specific course of study or employment experience for admission. Any person who has the ability to learn, is well motivated, has reasonable writing skills, and possesses a logical mind has the basic tools necessary to become a successful Taft Law School student.
Q. Can the Program be completed in less than three academic years?
A. No, the minimum completion time is three years.
Q. Can a student take more than 3 years to complete the Program?
A. Yes. A student may take a leave of absence between academic years. However, once study has commenced, the academic year must be completed in not less than 48 nor more than 52 weeks unless special authorization is obtained from the Dean. All degree requirements must be satisfied within seven years from the date of original enrollment.
Q. If I enroll in the Juris Doctor-Executive Track℠ Program can I later transfer to the Juris Doctor-Attorney Track℠ Program at a later date?
A. No, students cannot enroll (or re-enroll) in the Juris Doctor-Attorney Track℠ Program after commencing study in the JDET℠ Program. Accordingly, students must carefully evaluate their long-term objectives before enrolling in the Juris Doctor-Executive Track℠ Program. Students in good standing enrolled in the JDAT℠ Program can transfer to the JDET℠ Program at any time before beginning their fourth year of study.
Q. What financial aid is available?
A. Special grants-in-aid are available to outstanding prospects such as graduate degree holders and certain members of professional groups such as CPA’s and law enforcement personnel. These grants-in-aid are generally equal to 5% to 10% of the tuition.
The School also offers a no-interest financing alternative which permits students to pay approximately 30% of tuition at the time of enrollment and the balance over a 12 month period.
However, students enrolled in this Program are not eligible to apply for federally insured student loans.
Q. Does Taft Law School participate in tuition assistance for military personnel?
A. Yes. The School participates in the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) Program. The DANTES Program provides tuition assistance to members of the military and their spouses.
Q. Is there ever a need to come to California?
A. No. Academic and administrative procedures are carefully designed so that students can complete all requirements for graduation entirely through distance education, without unreasonably disrupting their professional or family lives. Students may elect to take final examinations at the School or at over 363 approved testing sites. If a testing site is not convenient to a student, procedures are in place for the student to nominate a proctor.
Q. How soon can I get started?
A. For this Program, Taft Law School maintains open enrollment throughout the year. After submission of an Application for Admission form, approved applicants are sent enrollment materials for their review and signature. Should the Admissions Office have any questions, the applicant will be contacted. Applications are reviewed weekly and most students commence study within three weeks from the date of application.