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Thinking of a Law Degree Online? Think Twice About Online Law Schools

If you’re thinking of taking on a law degree online (JD), at an online law school, then I know that’s a recipe for disaster – at least it is for right now.

I’m going to keep it short and sweet. OK, I’m not…

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Attend Law School Online

1. Accreditation and academic standards

As of right now, no online law school has the backing of the American Bar Association (ABA). This accreditation is crucial if you want to take the Bar Exam. Yes, those who graduate from an online school like Concord Law School or Abraham Lincoln University School of Law will be able to take only the California Bar Exam. From a geographical standpoint, that heavily limits where you can seek work.

It’s no secret. Most reputable academic institutions, accreditation bodies and employers already question the academic standards of full-fledged online schools.

2. Interaction, or rather lack there of

So even if you think you will live in California, or you feel like the “Accreditation Conglomerate” is stomping on your dream of going to an online law school, you must consider that the interaction with your peers, in an environment that’s more tangible than not, is something to consider as a factor.

For example, if you want to practice public law (ie. defense attorney or prosecuting attorney) you should consider studying at a brick-and-mortar college or university. It is my opinion that at this moment the e-learning platform is not on par with the “real” experience benefits of mock-trails and other essential interaction you would take part in at a brick-and-mortar college or university.

3. Career Prospects, [again] or lack there of

Lets consider the current status of the U.S. economy. There are already countless unemployed or underemployed law school grads. Yes, these are the same people who ponied up $100,000 or [way] more to obtain a law degree from a great, ABA approved, law school. You know, the same guys and gals who will be competing with an online law school grad for that singular position at that progressive law firm located downtown. Sarcasm aside, it is a given that most law firms and reputable agencies will question the integrity of your law degree right of the bat.

Reality Check #47

Imagine… this might be one of your first questions during the interview, that’s IF you get the interview:

So, I see you went to [insert school name here] Law School?

I bet you that 9/10 times you will feel or notice a body language que or an audible give away that either sways towards acceptance or condemnation.

Before you write me off as an ego-maniac, who advocates going into enormous financial hole to obtain a law degree, I want you to consider the status quo.

And, that there are law schools with sensible tuition rates… Shop around! I didn’t want to leave that one running wild.

Love it or hate it, we live in a society where an overwhelming number of people are highly critical, highly demanding, and very much in love with the ideal of excellence. Sprinkle just 10% of that on everything we touch and do everyday and there goes your argument of a Utopia. We live in ever more desirous times. The competition is tight and employers want the crème de la crème. Need I say more.

Educational reform anyone?

I am an ardent online education proponent. Heck, I started Online College Report because I’m sick of the misinformation out there on the Web; especially from the websites aggressively promoting for-profit colleges and universities – including for-profit colleges and universities. But, I digress.

Believe me, I want an online law degree to be a reality. Perhaps in the future it will become one. However, until we have the right technology tied together with the American Bar Association (ABA), the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), the academic system, and the employers openly accepting of online law school grads, going to school online will most likely be a detriment to you.

I highly recommend you consider public or private not-for-profit colleges or universities if you are serious about law school. These can range from reputable State universities to Ivy League schools, like Harvard University. Most importantly do your homework. Consider things like rankings, graduation rates, and cost of living and tuition, amongst other things.

I wrote a few blog posts on law school and dug up a few news articles that may be helpful:

What are your thoughts on online law schools?

Would you consider obtaining your law degree at an online law school? Why? Or, why not? Comment below.

You might also like:

Article written by Radek Gadek

Radek holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He is currently doing consulting work and runs this blog to provide relevant information on criminal justice degrees, colleges and related careers.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Sidney Myatt December 14, 2012, 7:07 am

    Hey love the blog my question is i do study criminal justice and i want it as my undergrad but for grad school i was thinking a masters or a law degree can you help me out…

    • Radek Gadek January 4, 2013, 5:30 pm

      I recommend reading a few of the articles and comments I linked to in the above article. That should give you some perspective.

  • Sideman March 24, 2013, 5:53 pm

    Overall a good blog regarding online law schools. I attended and graduated from Northwestern California University of Law online and obtained their non-bar degree. To me it made sense since I have no desire to practice law, but like to study law and wanted a structured environment in which to pursue the study of law. In my current field the education obtained has been of service to me and there are other fields that can use someone with legal knowledge but not be a practicing attorney (i.e.-insurance, real estate, etc.). Now I am an older student nearing retirement and it would not have been in my financial interests to obtain a bricks and mortar degree with 100k+ education debt to pay off. I just don’t have enough work years ahead of me to justify this. For younger students that are considering law study I’d suggest night school if at all possible at a local law or state university. They could find out whether the study of law is for them (it’s not for everyone) and not amass too much debt. I hope to live to see the day that online law degrees are given the same respect and deference as BM law degrees and the ABA gives their seal of approval. Until that time I had to make a decision that has worked for me and anyone else reading this must make the decision that’s right for them.

    • Radek Gadek March 24, 2013, 6:18 pm

      Well said.

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