The first and only
Mitchell Hamline is the first and only ABA-approved law school in the country to offer a part-time, on-campus/online J.D. program—known as the HYBRID J.D.℠ program.
Building on its rich tradition of innovation and access to legal education, Mitchell Hamline’s HYBRID J.D. program enables students to study the law from anywhere in the world. The HYBRID J.D. program is part of Mitchell Hamline’s unmatched array of enrollment options, including a weekend J.D. program and full- and part-time programs.
HYBRID J.D. program features
- Experiental. The HYBRID J.D. program incorporates Mitchell Hamline’s core value of experiential and skills-based learning.
- Accessible. For people who are limited by geography, professional commitments, or personal and family circumstances, the HYBRID J.D. program makes a legal education possible.
- Relevant. In a world that grows increasingly reliant on technology, integrating legal education with today’s innovations is more important than ever.
- Affordable. Tuition for the HYBRID J.D. program is the same as tuition for our on-campus, part-time program. Additionally, HYBRID J.D. program students can continue working while completing their legal education.
- Career-Minded. Mid-career professionals find the HYBRID J.D. program a perfect way to continue in their careers, while adding credentials or the opportunity to advance.
How the HYBRID J.D. program works
The HYBRID J.D. enrollment option is a part-time, eight-semester program combining on-campus and online coursework. Each semester includes 12 or 13 weeks of online coursework. At the end of each semester, students come to campus for a Capstone Week that includes intensive experiential learning, allowing them to apply the knowledge they’ve gained throughout the semester to real-world simulations under the supervision of their professors. Students visit campus a total of 10 times during their four years in the program.
In addition, students participate in two externships, during which they work in the field on real legal problems under the supervision of practicing attorneys in their communities.
History of the HYBRID J.D. program
The American Bar Association approved a variance for the HYBRID J.D. program in 2013, allowing the law school to present about 50 percent of its curriculum via e-learning technology. Without the variance, the ABA only allows law schools to make one-third of each course available through distance learning.
The HYBRID J.D. program variance was the first of its kind and came on the heels of a draft recommendation by the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education that law schools be permitted to experiment and innovate.
The HYBRID J.D. program’s inaugural class of 85 students began their legal education on Jan. 12, 2015. Students represented 30 states and two countries and ranged in age from 22 to 67. At least 35 had advanced degrees—including 14 M.B.A. degrees, five M.D. degrees, and three Ph.D. degrees. Forty-five percent of the students were women and 19 percent were people of color.
Praise for the program
The launch of the HYBRID J.D. program drew much praise from the legal community, including the following:
- One of the “10 Most Promising Innovations in Legal Education.” preLaw magazine
- “This pretty much puts William Mitchell on the cutting edge of legal education.” Lawyerist
- “…they put a lot of time, thought, energy, creativity and resources into developing the plan. The grant [of a variance in the number of on-line hours the school can offer] shows the program was carefully considered and carefully constructed.” Barry Currier, managing director of accreditation and legal education for the ABA
- Former president and dean Eric S. Janus, who led the initiative to gain the ABA variance for the HYBRID J.D. program was named one of the “Most Influential People in Legal Education” in 2015 and 2016 by the National Jurist.
In a student’s words
Bethany Lambert, a member of the HYBRID J.D. program’s first cohort, talks about her experience with the program.
“While I am working on my own, I am never really alone. My professors are very responsive, the librarians are helpful and even have an instant message feature, and I am constantly in contact with my classmates, some of whom I count among my closest friends. Additionally, while I may be working at home, I do not have leeway to be anything but disciplined and devoted as the program is demanding. I am being held accountable for all the reading and material through weekly discussion boards and papers. The writing demands of this program are intense.
In-person performance is also emphasized, as the Capstone Week, where we travel to St. Paul for seven days towards the end of each semester, is intense and productive. My cohort has just finished our third semester, and my classmates and I have already been required to argue four motions in oral arguments, participate in two negotiations and one mediation simulation, and conduct several client interviews. Local attorneys and judges serve as our adjudicators and clients in these simulations.
The most remarkable element of the Mitchell Hamline HYBRID J.D. program is its accessibility. My class was asked during a recent ABA evaluation how many of us would be unable to attend law school had it not been for this program. Nearly every hand went up. Personally, as a mother of two special needs children, this program affords me the opportunity to receive a legal education and still tend to my children’s needs.”