Last week, St. Mary’s University School of Law became the first to offer an online-only Juris Doctor program that received American Bar Association accreditation. The five-year pilot is set to launch in the fall with 25 students remotely attending the San Antonio-based law school’s virtual part-time J.D. program.

The secret sauce for ABA approval? St. Mary’s University School of Law Dean Patricia Roberts noted her law school already had a real-time yearly assessment in place that tracks each student’s progress. “We could say to the ABA we are already tracking that and we can track that with the [new] cohort and the ABA can use that to inform future decisions about online J.D. programs,” Roberts said.