Law Degree & Should I Pursue an Online Law Degree?
A law degree (also referred to as a “Juris Doctor”) is an invaluable educational program that will enhance your abilities to think, problem solve, discuss, analyze, advocate, counsel and educate. It not only prepares you for a challenging, yet fulfilling career as a lawyer. Some people, after completing a law degree, go on to other careers in areas, such as, mediation, criminal investigations, politics, the environment, business, international relations, human rights, journalism, finance and other disciplines.
If you are thinking of a law degree, but have other responsibilities (such as financial, professional and family-related priorities), then it might not be practical for you to apply to a full time, on-campus Juris Doctor program. Luckily there are alternatives.
Generally speaking, to be admitted into a Juris Doctor or law degree program, law schools require applicants to have graduated with a Bachelor’s degree (with a minimum GPA requirement, which varies by school) and the successful completion of the LSAT exam. There is no specific undergraduate major required. In fact, law schools prefer their prospective students to come from a variety of educational and personal backgrounds.
Law Degree Courses
It generally takes three years to complete a law degree. Some typical courses include the following subjects:
- Criminal Law
- Civil Law
- The Legal Profession
- The Constitution
- Property Law
- Legal Ethics
- Advanced Legal Skills/Externships
- Various Law Electives (opportunities to specialize)
Advantages of an Online Degree
The great aspect of taking an online degree in any discipline is that you can pursue your studies at a location and often at a time convenient to your lifestyle. That way you can continue to hold down a job, look after your family or avoid moving to another city (where the school might be located) to pursue that degree. An online degree program is also ideal for those who are more comfortable working in the comfort of their own home, and who are more at ease participating in a virtual environment (rather than in public).
Disadvantages of an Online Law Degree
There are numerous educational institutes that offer online law or Juris Doctor programs, however next to none are accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). (Some may be accredited by a certain state’s bar association meaning that law can only be practiced in that state). If you are completing a law degree for the specific goal of becoming a lawyer, then it would not bode well to complete a program by a school not accredited by the ABA or, at the very least, your State’s bar association. (Visit the ABA or search for your State’s Bar Association to find out if the schools you are considering are accredited).
Furthermore, completing a law degree without the face-to-face interaction with fellow students and professors may not always adequately prepare you for the legal profession you wish to pursue. The in-person discussion and debates, not to mention mock trials, are highly beneficial in an on campus program.
Luckily, several ABA-accredited law schools offer part time law degree programs on campus. Often, these take place during the evenings and/or weekend so that you can still continue to fulfill responsibilities during the day, such as a full time job. Additionally, there might also be the option to switch to full time status if your schedule changes.
Furthermore, if you are already a lawyer, several ABA-accredited universities offer online graduate degree programs, such as a Master of Laws or LL.M program. These allow you to further specialize in areas such as finances, taxation or criminal law.