Legal studies program online has met resistance from traditionalists, but it is natural that education evolves and adapts to new realities. Just like when Gutenberg invented the printing press it totally revolutionized learning and knowledge, so too the internet has been disruptive to the hallowed halls of education.
A buyer-beware attitude is fine. As critics point out, top law firms probably won’t be beating down your door to give you a job upon graduation. Legal studies programs online have had difficulty with students passing the bar. A major obstacle has been that most states don’t even let you take the bar with an online degree (California is the notable exception!).
But what naysayers don’t tell you is that traditional schools aren’t free from problems. An April 2013 Los Angeles Times article reports that law students have sued their traditional law schools in about 20 different suits around the country for presenting misleading post-graduation job statistics. Grads who bussed tables were reported as “employed within nine months after graduation.”
A New York Times article documents how traditional law schools manipulate their data to rise in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings, which leads to more applications and more donations. In one case, a dean classified low LSAT students as “part time” to drastically improve his bar passage stats of “full time” students.
So if a buyer-beware attitude is to predominate, let it apply to the traditional schools also.
Good news appears on the horizon for the legal studies program online. The American Bar Association is currently re-examining its anti-internet bias as part of comprehensive changes that are being sparked by plunging applications to traditional law schools.
The advantages of the legal studies program online are:
- Affordability – With the exception of Washington U.’s foray into the online market, tuition is one-third or one-fourth the cost of the brick-and-mortar schools.
- Flexibility – Most classes are “asynchronous,” which means they are recorded and you watch them at your convenience.
- Ease – You won’t have to change cities, pay dorm fees, etc., to “move in” to your school’s locale.
- Adaptability – The legal studies program online allows for students who can’t just quit their job or abandon their parental duties.
- Accessibility – Critics say the online student won’t have access to professors and other students, but this is not the case. They can email questions and get answers within 48 hours. Chat rooms provide interaction with other law students.
Do your research right before signing up. The legal studies program online has its deficiencies. But it may be the best option for you.