On May 6, students in the inaugural class of Syracuse University College of Law’s first-of-its-kind JDinteractive (JDi) program graduated alongside their peers in the college’s residential J.D. program. JDi, a fully ABA-accredited program, was the first to combine live online class sessions with self-paced class sessions. Its innovative design served as a model for other law schools pivoting to online education amid the pandemic.
The members of the inaugural class, which comprises 45 of the 199 College of Law’s J.D. recipients this year, distinguished themselves in their legal studies. Many are graduating with honors. As students, they were also active in extracurricular activities and pro bono work. Twelve served on the Syracuse Law Review or other journals, many participated in the Student Bar Association and other student organizations, and some started new student organizations.
“I’m extraordinarily proud of all our 2022 graduates, but I’m particularly pleased to see our inaugural JDi cohort earn their law degrees,” says Dean Craig M. Boise. “From across the country and around the world, they have studied with us year-round for more than three years, while balancing full-time work and family obligations. They are incredibly talented and motivated, and we’re honored to count them among our Syracuse Law alumni family.”
The College of Law carefully designed JDi to make its J.D. program available to students for whom attending a residential program was not practical. By combining real-time, online class sessions with self-paced instruction, on-campus courses and externship opportunities, the program makes a foremost legal education available to students who need flexibility in their studies.
Consistent with the program’s goals of increasing access to legal education, the JDi graduates are a diverse group:
- They hail from 25 different states, including Hawaii and Alaska, and have taken classes while living in multiple countries, including Germany, the Netherlands and Japan.
- Eleven are members of the military or military-affiliated, including high-ranking, retired veterans and spouses of active-duty military personnel based in Germany and New Mexico.
- 30% are students of color.
- Their median age is 35.
“These students are the embodiment of the goal at the core of JDi: to expand access to legal education and the legal profession,” says Professor Shannon Gardner, associate dean for online education. “Without this program, this diverse group of talented, accomplished, and ambitious grads would not have been able to pursue their aspirations of becoming lawyers.”
Outside of their pursuits as law students, the Class of 2022 JDi graduates are global industry executives at prominent companies, such as Apple, John Deere and Lockheed Martin. They are national and local government employees, leaders at higher education institutions, public school teachers and administrators, bankers, insurance executives, paralegals, real estate agents, entrepreneurs and accountants. They are parents of one to nine children and caregivers to aging parents. Several already hold advanced degrees.
“Designing JDi required us to rethink how we deliver education and gave us the opportunity to take the best of what we do in our residential program and translate it into the online space,” says Professor Nina Kohn, faculty director of online education, who led the design and launch of JDi. “The College of Law could not be prouder of these students for their achievements here. Their success shows that—with careful planning and an insistence on always putting student learning first—we can deliver a high-quality legal education to students no matter where they may be located.”
For more information about JDinteractive, email onlineJD@syr.edu.