To make matters worse, over the past ten years we have witnessed an explosion of distance education programs that claim to offer quality higher education, but which often fail to meet the standards that we have prescribed for the law and justice professions. Many of these programs use marginally qualified teachers that have no professional experience, who are forced to “facilitate” online courses that were actually built by publishers, and not seasoned faculty. To make matters worse, most of these programs do not contain lectures, include marginal homework assignments, and are predominantly based on a Blog style discussion board as the primary teaching tool. Clearly such programs do not meet the expectations of those of us leading the law and justice professions and do not serve to adequately prepare students for a career. Many of the programs that we presume to be adequate are, in fact, not meeting the standards specified by the profession for collegiate education. This issue has become so serious that it has garnered the attention of the Department of Education, as they look closely at the insufficiency of such programs in meeting the basic standards of higher education. In California recently, a change in legislation intends to revoke financial aid for such programs. This absence of effectiveness in law and justice education isn’t limited to just a small number of programs. Even within many traditional campus-based law and justice programs, we observe quite often that there is a stagnation in the educational curriculum, an inability to keep pace with the ever changing needs of the profession, and in many cases, an over emphasis by faculty who possess little or no professional experience on the more theoretical aspects of the discipline, as opposed to providing students with an effective blend of theory and application that has relevance to their career.
In response to many of these critical issues, the National Institute for Law and Justice Education was created, by the Accrediting Commission for Law and Justice Education, to assure that quality higher education is made available which not only meets the fundamental expectations for higher education, but which also provides students with an exemplary education in law and justice disciplines. The Institute operates as an NGO and was created by justice professionals, for justice professionals, in order to provide members of the justice community with an exemplary education, at an exceptionally affordable price. The mission of the Institute is to provide the finest education possible within the disciplines of law and justice and to support our profession by making quality collegiate education available and affordable. The National Institute for Law and Justice incorporates a variety of effective educational methods, along with a contemporary curriculum and timely specializations, to create an academic environment that is not only robust in its orientation, but exceptionally informative and challenging in its content. The Institute offers students an exceptional opportunity to learn from some of the most highly qualified faculty in the nation, who bring to the classroom a combination of advanced degrees within their disciplines, combined with decades of professional experience and insights. The distinctions between NILJ and other college and university programs are numerous, but suffice it to say that the degree programs provided by the National Institute for Law and Justice are attracting significant attention among many of the nation’s leaders of our profession.
The Institute’s academic degree programs are delivered using a technology mediated instruction strategy. This means that a blend of synchronous and asynchronous strategies are used to deliver instruction and to provide real time interaction between students in attendance and the faculty. This approach is accomplished by a purposive educational strategy that blends campus-based instruction with various asynchronous technologies to deliver educational materials outside of the traditional classroom setting. The Institute is currently in the process of expanding its Strategic Partnership Affiliate program, which provides participating collegiate institutions with an opportunity to sponsor one or more of the degree programs provided through the Institute in order to establish an academic excellence center, or expand their reach to the national audience of law and justice professionals seeking degree opportunities. Each strategic affiliate institution must be accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Law and Justice Education and embrace the administrative, procedural, pedagogical, and operational requirements established by the Commission for the Institute.
There are a variety of strategic differences between the Institute and other providers of higher education in law and justice, but essentially, the differences rest in the fact that the Institute provides a technology mediated learning based curriculum that;
- Was built by senior law and justice professionals, who not only hold doctorate degrees in the discipline, but who also possess many decades of experience in the profession,
- Is priced to be the most competitive in the nation, often charging tuition that is far less than even state colleges and universities,
- Includes a rigorous “general education” requirement that affords students with the basic skills they will need in reasoning, mathematics, reading comprehension, and writing,
- Provides a curriculum that offers not only a solid foundation and understanding of the discipline, but specialization in a variety of critical areas,
- Offers a program of study that allows students an opportunity to begin their education at the undergraduate level, and then progress toward the attainment of a doctoral level degree, without ever leaving the Institute.
- Differs considerably in approach and pedagogical strategy from most accredited, but marginal, colleges and universities. The Institute is unwilling to compromise on the standards of excellence adopted for the law and justice disciplines, and accordingly, takes a very different approach to designing and delivering instruction.
At the Institute, students will encounter;
- Ninety minute [narrated] lectures every week during the term, in an asynchronous Powerpoint format so that they can review the lessons repeatedly,
- Lectures that are actually built and delivered by senior members of the faculty, instead of book publishers, and which communicate not just concepts but insights and applications based on decades of professional experience,
- Custom published textbooks that are created by the teaching faculty and which specifically fit the course of instruction and are not just adapted to it,
- Homework assignments that actually measure student understanding of the material and information that is contained within the lectures and reading,
- Critical thinking assessments every week that place the student in a situational setting that requires them to resolve a problem, based on what they learned in the lectures,
- A progressive term paper requirement that improves student writing skills by requiring them to produce two pages per week, of a semester long term research assignment,
- Mandatory face to face contact and access to the faculty and the other students in the class, through two-way video each week for instruction, during office hours, and by appointment,
- And, no focus on Blog based discussions as an instructional method.
As you can see, the Institute takes a very different approach to higher education. I would like to invite you to closely examine the programs offered at the Institute and determine whether these programs might be of value to the members of your association. Our efforts to hold down the cost of tuition are dependent upon word of mouth advertising, and your assistance would be invaluable, should you conclude that our Institute would serve to further the educational needs of your members. Our website is located at www.nilj.org and contains very detailed information about our programs and requirements. There are also Brochures available, under the Majors section of the website, that you are welcome to print and distribute freely.
I greatly appreciate you taking the time to review this correspondence and any support you might be able to render in helping us to notify members of your organization who desire to further their education. I am available via email at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any questions.
With Best Regards,
Judge Hal Campbell, Ph.D.
Academic Director of the Institute