Online Law School Class: What to expect

Online law school class offers greater flexibility and many advantages over the traditional school. This highly technical video shows the technological challenges for law schools to offer online classes. Most traditional law schools offer some online classes, but under current ABA regulations the number of hours is limited. Those regulations appear on the brink of being struck down. In California, however, you can take all your classes online and still sit at the bar. Prospective students are encouraged to review the prospectus or curriculum provided by most online law school class programs.

When you look at the options, remember to research:

  1. affordability – expect it to be one-third or less the cost of a brick and mortar law school
  2. convenience – most host asynchronous classes (that means, you can watch it whenever, pause it, rewind it, etc.)
  3. quality – ask about bar passage rate of students, as well as job placement rates in legal careers 9 months after graduation
  4. support – video conferencing, email and chat rooms are the means of interaction with students and professors

Check out these related topics:

  • Best buys in online bachelors degrees in justice, law and legal studies
  • Best buys in online masters degrees in justice, law and legal studies
  • Best jobs for paralegals in government, small law firms
  • Best entry-level law enforcement jobs for criminal justice graduates
  • Become a federal air marshal with an online law degree
  • Which are the best online law school for you?

Online Law School Class

Online Law School Class: From Soup to Nuts

From the 2010 CALI Conference for Law School Computing Online classes have exploded in popularity in higher education, and law schools are slowly catching up…

Law school online: emerging stories of success

Law school online is producing more and more success stories. Laura Collins passed the California bar in May of 2003. What was extraordinary is that she was among the first five to do so having coursed law school online. With her degree, she got a job in the film industry, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Law School Online

Since then, there have been many others. The law school online uses the same texts as regular law school. But lectures can be downloaded and watched at your convenience. And you can stop and rewind — an option not enjoyed in traditional lecture hall. Students spend 20-30 hours a week studying. There are classes in chatrooms, and professors get back to within 48 hours via email for questions.

The American Bar Association hasn’t rushed to endorse the law school online, however. It limits the number of units in its accredited schools that a student can take online. Since many states only allow graduates from ABA-accredited schools to take the bar, that limits your options. California, however, doesn’t restrict itself to ABA accreditation and allows fully online law graduates take the bar.

Such restrictions are likely to be loosened soon, as traditional law schools are seeing enrollments plunge in 2013. Unfortunately, it requires crisis to become the catalyst for change. The ABA is currently re-visiting its policies, looking at its task force’s recommendations this fall.

Ross Mitchell made news November 2008 by persuading the Massachusetts Board of the Bar to allow him to take the test, which he passed. Because he was mid-career, he didn’t have the luxury to sit in the typical lecture hall, but he dreamed of becoming a lawyer.

When you look at the options, remember to research about the law school online:

  • affordability
  • convenience
  • quality
  • support

Check out these related topics:

  • Best buys in online bachelors degrees in justice, law and legal studies
  • Best buys in online masters degrees in justice, law and legal studies
  • Best jobs for paralegals in government, small law firms
  • Best entry-level law enforcement jobs for criminal justice graduates
  • Become a federal air marshal with an online law degree
  • Which are the best online law school for you?


Law program online: confronting the anti-innovation cronies

Law program online, so far, has witnessed a slower growth than other academic disciplines — for example, Stanford’s or MIT’s computer-engineering programs that have made available rigorous education at fractional costs to six-digit numbers of participants.


the quality of such online education is high, and the programs are student-oriented, says Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (he’s also a professor of economics at Ohio University). A good law program online offers live discussions via internet that even employ the vaunted Socratic method.

Law program online

Why, then, has the law program online met unusual resistance? First, because well-paid, tenured professors are protecting their turf. Second the high-flying law firms look first at the traditional schools.

For now, a law program online is good for you if you:

  • wish to be self-employed lawyer
  • want a law degree to compliment your career
  • want a related career, like law enforcement or government
  • can’t afford the spiraling costs of a traditional law school
  • need to support yourself by working a day job while studying at night
  • have parental duties that don’t allow you to go off to law school
  • are in the military and want to prepare for your return to civilian life
  • other

Good news appears on the horizon. Legal education’s resistance the law program online should be eroding soon.

“We are going through a revolution in law with a time bomb on our admissions books,” said William D. Henderson, a professor of law at Indiana University. He was speaking about drastic transformation coming to traditional law teaching.

A national task force urged in February 2013 to radically change the way the legal education is done. Whatever comes out of those recommendations remains to be seen, but the law program online looks to be the winner against the legal cronies guarding their turf.

Distance law degrees gain momentum with Washington U. program

Distance law degrees gain impetus from an unlikely sector.

When Washington University announced in 2012 that it was opening an online master’s degree in law, it became the first top-tier traditional law school to move into the distance law degrees market and essentially threw its weight and credibility behind this growing option.

Distance Law Degrees

The New York Times on May 8, 2012 reported, “Legal education has been slow to move to online classes, and the new master’s program is perhaps the earliest partnership between a top-tier law school and a commercial enterprise.” Washington U. is partnering with 2tor, a private enterprise, to put the classes, intended for overseas lawyers, online.

Indeed, high state courts, which administer the bar exam, have been skeptical about the online option. So far, only California is completely open to online students taking its bar exam. If you wish to practice in another law in another state, the path is thorny. While the American Bar Association doesn’t accredit distance law degrees, the California bar has registered the following schools (it does not vouch for their quality)

Distance law degrees can be obtained from:

  • Abraham Lincoln University School of Law
  • American Heritage University School of Law
  • California School of Law
  • Concord School of Law
  • Esquire College
  • MD Kirk School of Law
  • Newport University
  • Northwestern California University
  • Oak Brook College of Law and Government Policy
  • Southern California University for Professional Studies
  • University of Honolulu
  • West Coast School of Law, Inc.
  • West Haven University
  • William Howard Taft University

When you research the best option for you, make sure to ask

1. the bar passage rates of graduates per distance school
2. options to take the bar in your state
3. total costs (It should be one-fourth the cost of a traditional law school. The Washington U. option is the same as for live-in-classroom students).

Happy lawyering!


Distance law schools growing acceptance

Distance law schools may work for you.

Virtually every law school utilizes the same books and curriculum, so what makes a difference is how hard a student works towards learning the law,” said Chuck Katz from Washington State in U.S. News & World Report article June 7, 2012. “Becoming an accomplished attorney can be achieved whether one attends Harvard University, Yale University or Concord”online law school. After graduating from an distance law school, Katz passed the tough California bar on the first attempt.

Distance Law Schools

High-powered law firms still prefer the traditional in-person law schools, though. But we’re talking about “possibility” for many students–they can’t

  • afford a traditional law school
  • pull up stakes and move to a a traditional law school
  • quit their job to study during typical law school hours
  • abandon parental duties but want to study at night

So why not get in on the ground floor as the elevator begins to move up, especially now that a special national commission designed to solve the current law school crisis has recommended a host of changes to the law school format. They certainly have ruffled feathers suggesting:

  1. law school be shortened to 2 years
  2. law school teach more practice and less theory
  3. law education devise curriculum to graduate “legal technicians” — more than a paralegal and less than a trial lawyer
  4. law schools reduce tuition
  5. allowing undergrad juniors into law school
  6. simplifying and relaxing accreditation

“We are going to look at everything from scratch,” said Laurel G. Bellows, a Chicago lawyer and the president of the American Bar Association, quoted in a New York Times article Feb. 10, 2013. “We have to keep everything on the table.”

Check your state’s requirements for admission to the bar exam before enrolling online!

Law programs online threaten to take over

Law programs online eventually will be the death knell of 2nd- and 3rd-tier law schools. That’s the feeling you get when you read  a New York Times article on March 25, 2013 about the future of online education.

Law programs online held up (for the moment)

Law programs online

For the moment, it is not the case. The American Bar Association and state court systems have had their colleagues’ backs at the traditional law school. Only forward-looking California and a smattering of other states permit online law students to take the bar. But such late-adapter behavior is on the verge of change (being forced to change).

Traditional law schools have seen applications plunge to a 30-year low — due to skyrocketing tuition. The Internet is encroaching on the domain of the lawyer, with many forms now online, and this has taken a bite out of job prospects. Would you pay $150,000 for a law degree without a 6-figure job waiting for you at the end? (Top-grade earners at top schools will still command top dollar.)

Meanwhile, online education threatens to upend our “hallowed institutions of higher learning just” as it has disrupted every other industry. Stanford professors have founded Coursera and Udacity, separate “free” Massive Open Online Courses — or MOOCs — for other course work (so far, a law degree online is still not free), Lohr reports.

For the moment, the consumer must research carefully if her/his state accepts online law degreed students into its bar exam. But those policies are currently under scrutiny nationwide — and subject to change at any moment.

Before enrolling, make sure to ask:

  • Accreditation
  • Credit-Earning Options
  • Financial Aid
  • Tuition and Fees
  • Student Services
  • Faculty
  • Program of Interest

MOOC providers currently include:

  1. Coursera: Offers 220 courses in subjects including computer science, math, business, humanities, social science, medicine, engineering and education.
  2. Udacity: Classes on computer science, mathematics, physics and business courses.
  3. Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE): Offers 10 courses from Stanford’s School of Engineering.
  4. UC Berkeley: Courses on such as general biology and human emotion.
  5. MITx: Lists business, energy, fine arts, health and medicine, mathematics and science.
  6. Duke University: Uses ITunes U to deliver a diversity of courses.
  7. UCLA: Focus is on its writing program, which provides 200 online writing courses yearly.
  8. Harvard: Through edX (a joint Harvard and MIT initiative), teaches everything from Shakespeare to abstract algebra.



Online law program: a revolution in the making

Online law program has a bright a future. Among the about 200 traditional law schools nationwide, only four this year have seen an increase in admission applications. The rest are coming up short. In 2004, there were 100,000 applications, this year only 54,000 are projected, according to the Law School Admissions Council, as cited in a New York Times article Jan. 30, 2013.

online law program

“We are going through a revolution in law with a time bomb on our admissions books,” William D. Henderson, a professor of law at Indiana University, told the Times. Legal education has been among the slowest to adapt to the technological revolution, treating its classroom cash cows as holy cows. From 2001 to the present, traditional law schools have nearly doubled their tuition.

Online law program bursting on scene

Erupting on the scene has the been the online law program. “Despite the majority of professors believing online classes have resulted in inferior education, 40 percent of full-time professors reported that online courses have the potential to match in-class instruction for learning outcomes,” says Kevin O’Keefe on his blog Real Lawyers Have Blogs.

The online law program is substantially cheaper and convenient. California accepts online law program students outright into its bar exam, and other states are currently re-examining their own policies to reflect the new realities of the legal profession. A law degree can greatly enhance your career opportunities. Research options today.

Read Kevin O’Keefe’s fascinating takes on the future of law school:


Consider these specialties in law:

  1. Elder law
  2. Environmental law
  3. Intellectual property law
  4. International law
  5. Marine law
  6. Probate law

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?


Law degrees online cry for re-evaluation

Law degrees online are crying out for a re-evaluation.Traditional law schools have jacked tuition up way beyond inflation. At the same time, the six-figure job offers remain elusive. The result? Newly-minted lawyers are being crushed under a burden of between $110,000 to $190,000 in debt. Law degrees online, though no easy path, make sense because their economical.

law degrees online

A New York Times article on Jan. 8, 2011, asserted that lawyers from traditional law schools need a gig that pays at least $65,000 to be able to handle their student loan debt. And there are too few cherries to pick for aspiring lawyers if they graduated from the bottom two-thirds of the U.S. News and World Report’s annual law school rankings.

Law degrees online: a cheaper alternative

So if you can’t get into Harvard or Yale where the mean income of graduates is $160,000, why not consider law degrees online, where tuition will be one-third? To be sure, online students have a harder time, statistically, passing the bar. But this depends on how applied the student is.

You also must research whether your state will allow you to even take the bar with law degrees online. (You may, however, want law degrees online for a career that doesn’t require bar passage. You can also pass the bar in forward-looking California, which recognizes online law schools, practice there for 5-7 years, and the submit to take the bar in your desired state. In some cases, you can request a hearing and persuade bar officials to allow you to take the test.)

Law school options today

So far the Medieval monks who run America’s legal education are convinced they will always have manuscripts to hand-copy, never mind that a certain Johannes Gutenberg has some crazy invention called the printing press. Will the current crisis be enough to persuade them to loosen their stranglehold on law education? Law degrees online are a growing option.

Fun facts (and not-so-fun ones):

  • According to wikipedia, there are 199 ABA-accredited law schools (traditional) and only a handful online schools
  • According to the National Association for Legal Career Professionals 2009 survey, of  44,000 law school graduates, less than 40% were employed as full-time non temporary attorneys.
  • By raising its ranking with the U.S. News and World Report listing of law schools, a traditional institution increases not only enrollment but grants and endowments.
  • By admitting just 25 students more, a traditional law school nets $1 million profit.
  • According to the National Law Journal, 40% of law school graduates (of traditional institutions) default on student loans, incurring collection fees of 29%.
  • Graduates from traditional schools default more often than doctors, engineers, and business school graduates


Law degree online: you do the math

Law degree online stands to grow substantially this year. The New York Times reported on Jan. 30, 2013 that spiraling law school costs coupled with slumping job prospects led to a 20% fall in applications to the traditional sit-in-class institution. At $45,000/ year average, prospective students are choosing business, medicine and other careers. With good reason, when they get out of the traditional law school, they are crushed by $150,000 debt — and the six-figure law career they sought remains elusive.

You do the math. At around $10,500 a year, the law degree online is a positive alternative.

We are going through a revolution in law with a time bomb on our admissions books,” said William D. Henderson, a professor of law at Indiana University, quoted by the Times. “Thirty years ago if you were looking to get on the escalator to upward mobility, you went to business or law school. Today, the law school escalator is broken.”

Law degree online

Law degree online capitalizes on traditional schools’ demise

With the lowest enrollment since 1977 in traditional law school, cutbacks, layoffs, staff buyouts are planned for the fall, the Times reported. With clouds gathering over such schools, bar association leaders are looking at alternatives. To reduce student debt, New York is examining the possibility of taking the bar in two years instead of three. Expect bar association officials re-evaluate the online option.

As pundits foresee a revolution in the world of law, the online law degree stands to come out a winner. You decide whether this option is the wave of the future. Do the economics of the law degree online outweigh the naysaying of an industry steeped in tradition?

Fun facts about law degree online:

  • 60 college credits and 864 hours per year of correspondence law classes qualify you to take bar exam in California
  • In 2008, an average salaried lawyer in America earned $110,590 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • To become a lawyer in America, you must earn a Juris Doctor. But in many other countries you need only a Bachelor of Laws
  • Before law school, common undergraduate degrees are philosophy, English and history.
  • You must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA through law school.

* Read more: For an in-depth critique of the current law school panorama, read “Failing Law Schools,” by Brian Tamanaha. He catalogues in detail how law schools fudge their data and over-charge tuition in pursuit of high ranking at the expense of the population demographics they serve or could serve.

Distance law degree: the economics of law school

Distance law degree offers substantial savings for the potential law student. California leads the way in accepting students with distance law degrees to take its bar exam. A distance law degree may be for you if obligations with your family and lack of finances rule out regular on-campus studies.

Distance law degree

The distance law degree typically costs about $10,500 a year. By contrast, a median law school if you actually sit in the classroom is $43,000/ year. The New York Times in a Jan. 8, 2011 article called traditional law schools “cash cows” and described the woes of JD grads smothered by $250,000 worth of debt.

Distance law degree edging forward

To be sure, the distance law degree not an easy in. The American Bar Assn. recognizes no online school, and most states won’t let you take the bar (California is the notable exception!). Distance law learners, as could be expected, have lower passage rates. And top law firms take a dim view of anything but the traditional top universities.

Typically, a Juris Doctor (JD) degree can be completed in three years. Classes include:

  • Torts
  • Contracts
  • Criminal law
  • Civil law
  • The legal profession
  • The U.S. Constitution
  • Property law
  • Forensics and evidence
  • Legal ethics
  • Communications and writing
  • Advanced legal skills or externships
  • Specialty electives

Related searches:

Online law school: How is it similar to the traditional school?

Online law school classes often are held at a certain time of the day, similar to regular colleges. Your assignments need to be turned in on specified days and times. The online law school allows students to email teachers or other classmates for clarification regarding an assignment. Addressing criticisms leveled at the online schools that there is too little interactivity, most schools set up chat forums to discuss ideas and questions as well as argue cases.

Online law school

To take online law school classes you will need high-speed internet and a sound card.  Your RAM capability should be at least 256 megabytes. Either Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer (6.0+) will work. As far as software on your computer, you can’t get by without Microsoft Word.

Online law school wins in area of cost

An online law school costs $10,000 to $10,500 a year, so the savings are substantial when compared to the traditional law school. Check out options for Pell and other grants to defray these costs if you have need.

California and a few others states accept online law school students to take the bar. You had better check with your state’s bar before you enroll under a false illusion. Also, if you don’t want to become a practicing attorney, you may not need to pass the bar. Here’s a list of careers that don’t necessarily require passing the bar but definitely get higher pay for having a law degree:

  • Court reporter
  • City council member
  • Corporation consultant or arbitrator
  • Foreign affairs consultant
  • Police Officer
  • Homeland Security professional
  • Cyber Crime detective
  • Corporate or private security
  • Political leader such as senator or representative
  • Justice of the Peace

Potential areas of study:

  1. business law
  2. civil law
  3. criminal law
  4. entertainment law
  5. environmental law
  6. family law
  7. health law
  8. internet law
  9. personal injury law
  10. real estate law
  11. tax law