From Courtroom to Classroom: How One Law School Is Innovating Learning for Busy Attorneys

Healthcare in the Headlines

Ron Colombo has taken a different view of the recent healthcare debate.

He is paying close attention to the headlines.

Ron is a Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Distance Education at Hofstra University.

“Attorneys who work in the healthcare space are looking to deepen their knowledge of the laws and regulations that govern their work,” Ron says.

“Specialized knowledge in this area makes an attorney more attractive—to employers and to clients alike.”

A Long, Uphill Climb

It takes lawyers a good, long time to be recognized for specialized knowledge in a specific subject area.

Such knowledge is typically pursued through an LL.M—Master of Laws—degree.

LL.M degrees are available to students who have already obtained a general JD—Juris Doctor—degree.

“Within the very competitive attorney world, the desire for this additional credential is there,” Ron says.

But, there is one major obstacle for those seeking an LL.M degree: time.

“Attorneys are already balancing busy careers and families.”

“Most don’t have the flexibility to move or take several years off of work to go back to school.”

That’s where Ron and his colleagues at Hofstra come in.

“We have a law school. We have a medical school. We are uniquely capable of leveraging our expertise in both fields to satisfy this market need,” Ron says.


“We have a law school. We have a medical school. We are uniquely capable
of leveraging our expertise in both fields to satisfy this market need.”


“And that’s what we did.”

Knowing What You Don’t Know

Ron has been with Hofstra for ten years.

In that time, he’s held both teaching and administrative roles.

While serving as Dean of Academic Affairs between 2013 and 2015, he first explored the idea of launching an online degree program to help bridge the need for qualifications and areas of expertise that are not often combined.


While serving as Dean of Academic Affairs between 2013 and 2015, he first explored the idea of launching an online degree program to help bridge the need for qualifications and areas of expertise that are not often combined.


“It was a totally new concept for our law school,” Ron says.

“I knew from the start that we didn’t have the in-house expertise to design and execute the program ourselves.”

After a months-long interview process, Hofstra hired an expert partner for the project: Pearson.

Soup to Nuts

“The first—and potentially most important—thing Pearson did,” Ron says, was validate the market need for this type of online LL.M program,” Ron says.

“They are supremely in tune with emerging trends in teaching and learning.”

Pearson also helped with course design (creating new courses and adapting existing ones previously taught through Hofstra’s on-ground LL.M program).

“Our professors pulled together everything they wanted to teach during a seven-week course, and Pearson helped them figure out how to break it up into bite sized chunks for online digestion,” Ron says.


“Our professors pulled together everything they wanted to teach during
a seven-week course, and Pearson helped them figure out how to
break it up into bite sized chunks for online digestion.”


Pearson also handled the bulk of the marketing and recruitment efforts for the program.

And, they designed the program’s online learning portal—and still maintain it today.

Specialized Flexibility

Nearly all course work and communication is done through this portal, Ron says.

“Students turn in assignments, get new assignments, and receive feedback on their classwork there.”

“Everything is contained in one place. We worked really hard on that.”

The most flexibility-friendly aspect of the program, according to Ron: the asynchronous learning.

“Materials and assignments can be accessed by students at any time during the seven-week course,” he says.

“As long as they are hitting their deadlines, students can come and go as they please.”

“That flexibility is the absolute touchstone of this program.”

Anniversary Celebrations

This spring, Ron and his colleagues celebrated the one year anniversary of Hofstra’s online LL.M program.

Program enrollment continues to increase.

“We have great diversity, not just in terms of geography and race, but also in age, political viewpoint, and career type.”

The vast majority of both students and teachers report being very satisfied with the new program.

Ron says he looks forward to making sure it gets even closer to perfect.

“There’s a learning curve with any new endeavor,” Ron says.

“My colleagues at Hofstra and Pearson have spent the last year ironing out the kinks and improving the experience for both faculty and for students.”

“As the world of healthcare law and policy continues to evolve, we’re poised—and enthusiastically ready—to offer a flexible, top-shelf education to this population of professionals.”


“As the world of healthcare law and policy continues to evolve,
we’re poised—and enthusiastically ready—to offer a flexible, top-shelf education
to this population of professionals.”