Law schools are often characterized as institutions that are afraid of change. In many schools, for example, laptops are forbidden in lectures. Most tests are still done by hand, and students are expected to attend lectures daily. In this newer era of education, though, things are changing quickly.
Online law schools are beginning to gain traction, and many students are choosing to go online for their degrees instead of going through the typical channels. Online legal education is vastly different than its brick and mortar counterpart, but it is becoming more popular every day. When students are given the choice to embrace this new way of learning, many choose to forgo the traditional model.
Online law schools are less focused on the lecture model than their traditional counterparts, instead putting more focus on research and writing. While the typical law school will certainly require courses in legal research, the online nature of these schools makes it easier to place an emphasis on data gathering. These schools also tend to put less focus on the competitive aspects of the law school experience - students are not commonly ranked, and competition for resources is usually not an issue. Indeed, cooperation seems to be more of a key element in online schools.
Public speaking and debate is also less of a focus in online education, a fact brought about by necessity. This actually allows students to move forward with a more modern interpretation of the law, as most law students will never set foot inside a courtroom. Instead, drafting documents and working on contracts tend to be emphasized above asking leading questions and knowing when to object. While these online schools still have a focus on traditional law, they make for a better alternative for those students looking for a route that will not take them in front of a jury.
Another area in which online law school tends to stand out is price. Law school is expensive - usually prohibitively so. The average law student may come out of school with over a hundred thousand dollars of debt, a sometimes insurmountable sum in today's job market. Online schools tend to cost a fraction of that, still rewarding students with a J.D. at the end of the course of study. While the courses are still as rigorous, the lack of a physical campus helps to drive down the price of going to school online.
The biggest step forward for online law school is the fact that California now allows students of some online universities to sit the bar. This means that graduates are not just recipients of JDs - they can actually practice in one of the largest jurisdictions in the United States. Coupled with the number of graduates who are seeking LLMs, the number of legitimate lawyers who have received their degrees online is growing. In time, it is likely that other states will begin to follow California's lead. Even today, though, there are online-trained lawyers who are practicing law.
It is an exciting time to be a law student. Since online learning has reduced the costs and moved to a model that is more in line with modern law, new students have a better chance to prepare for the job market. There is no doubt that more schools will begin to offer online JDs and LLMs in the future, and those who have already accepted the trend are reaping the rewards. Online schools are here to stay, and even the legal profession will soon have to admit that fact. Going to law school online is an alternative that lawyers of the future are sure to pursue.
Ryan Ayers is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to education and legal issues. In this article, he talks about the prospects of mobile, online legal education. He aims to encourage further study through Chaplain College Online.