Online law programs: Coming overhaul bodes well

Online law programs are poised to boom with the impending overhaul to law education that includes the creation of licensing technicians, downsizing course load to two instead of three years, and less theory and more practice.

Online law program

Don’t think ABA and tenured law professors — which have taken a dim view of online programs up until now — are surrendering their stranglehold on law education easily. No, they are more resistant to the winds of change than an evolved, hardened virus is resistant to penicillin. Online law programs still have a ways to go to get fully embraced.

What is bringing this upheaval is national malaise in the traditional law school: this year there are 38% fewer applicants, the lowest in 30 years. Apparently, prospective students are wising up to the one-two knockout punch of overwhelming student debt and a dimmer-than-ever  job upon graduation, according to a New York Times article on Feb. 10, 2013..

There is almost universal agreement that the current system is broken,” said Thomas W. Lyons III, a Rhode Island lawyer and a member of the American Bar Association’s Task Force on the Future of Legal Education. He was quoted in The Times.

Online law programs edging forward

The State of Washington is taking the lead, setting up programs to graduate limited-license legal technicians —  more than a paralegal and not quite a full-fledged attorney. Such middle-of-the-road professionals are exactly what the online law programs can produce.

“The house is on fire,” said task force member Michael P. Downey of St. Louis, quoted in The Times. “We don’t want a report that sits on a shelf.”

If the low tuition and flexible classes offered by online law programs work for you, today is your day to research this option.

Read the New York Times article yourself here:

Questions to ask your prospective online law program:

  • How much live interaction with teacher and fellow students will I have?
  • What is the bar passage rate? Will my state allow me to take the bar without fighting for a special permission?
  • What is the employment rate in law careers of graduates from this program 9 months after graduation?
  • How much will it cost to complete and graduate from the entire program?
  • How long will it take?


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