Choosing the Right Online Law Degree Program

You may have an interest in becoming a lawyer but the cost of a traditional law school is just too overwhelming.

Or, you may have job and family responsibilities that prevent you from attending a traditional four-year law school.

These are two of the reasons why many choose to enter this profession by attending an online law degree program.

The technology is out there and as each year passes this form of instruction is becoming more popular and affordable.

The Basics

Before giving your money to any online law school, you should try to get the following bits of information about it:

• Complaints
• Curriculum
• Pass rate of Baby Bar Exam
• Responsiveness to Inquiries
• Technology

You can check consumer websites or education agencies for your state to see if there are any complaints registered. Even a simple Google search for the school’s name could yield current news information about it.

The Baby Bar Exam is given to students of online law schools after their first year of study. It is a mini-bar exam that exposes the students to what it would be like to take the full bar exam after four years of study. This way, a student can decide if he wants to continue pursuing studies in this profession. Some schools give statistics as to the pass rate of those who have taken the Baby Bar Exam and this can be useful information when making choices.

Curriculum

The curriculum should be such that all aspects of criminal, civil, and tort law are covered. Typical courses in a good 4-year online law degree program include:

• Contract law
• Tort law
• Criminal law
• Legal procedure
• Rules of Evidence
• Property Law
• Wills and Trusts
• Ethics
• Constitutional law

A curriculum in these areas will give the student a good education to pass a bar exam and begin practicing general law. It should be noted that ethics should be a part of any curriculum.

Accreditation

The American Bar Association is the entity that gives accreditation to law schools throughout the United States. However, they do not give this to online law schools. This could change in the future as online education becomes more of a norm. So, how do you become a lawyer after spending all that money in an online program? Read on and you will get your answer below.

State Bar Associations

Not all state bar associations accept online law degrees. In other words, you cannot sit for the Bar Exam if the state you reside in does not recognize an online law degree. The exception to this is the State of California. Their state bar recognizes online law degrees and will allow you to sit for the exam. It would be best to make sure that the online law degree program you are considering specifies this.

However, there are some states that may let you sit for their bar exam after you pass the California bar exam. Or, some states will let you take their bar exam after working as an attorney. For example, the State of New Mexico will let a person take the bar exam in that state if he has graduated from any law school (to include online) in another state and has been practicing law for at least 4 of the prior 6 years.

Online Graduate Law Degrees

The American Bar Association does not give accreditation for online graduate law degrees either. It only deals with Juris Doctor degrees (the first 4-years). However, this is not a problem because these online degrees give the practicing lawyer a specialization. For example the New York University (NYU) Law School has an online program in taxation.

Choosing an online law degree program is a viable alternative for those who have job and family responsibilities or are limited by funding. While it may take a little longer to take your state’s bar exam and begin practicing law, it is not impossible. Furthermore, if you are flexible enough to move to and practice law in California, then the possibilities are even brighter.