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6 Ways to Study Law Online

IN THE December 16 ISSUE

FROM THE 2020 Articles,
andEducation
SECTIONS

by staff

In this article are described options to prep online for the LSAT or bar exams, and also get online certificates on topics like business law.

Even though you may not be able to earn an American Bar Association-accredited J.D. completely online, it’s possible to accelerate a legal career with a help of online programs. Courses can be a very helpful tool though, and help you prepare for probably the toughest exam you have ever taken.

Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash

Here are six ways to do that, from LSAT prep to virtual career training:

Online courses (free or low-cost)

Online courses are available on websites like Coursera, Alison.com, Udemy, edX, and cover numerous specific legal subjects, such as tax or employment law, or one of the specific legal issues, for example, freedom of expression. Such courses are particularly helpful in developing a basic understanding of a topic, or they may fulfill a student’s interest in non-profile law specialties.

EdX develops MOOCs (massive open online courses) with higher education institutions that are available for students for free, and range from International Human Rights Law with the University Catholique of Louvain in Belgium to Intellectual Property Law and Policy with the University of Pennsylvania. On both edX and Coursera, students in some cases may be requested to pay $30 – $150 for certificates upon completion.

Online certificate programs and career training

A certificate may provide opportunities to learn about a specific field of law, but it’s not the document that will allow students to become practicing lawyers. Such courses are offered by USC Online at the University of Southern California, for example (five courses in two semesters). There are other online certificates that are geared toward those who want a specific job like paralegal or a legal secretary. The Center for Legal Studies partners with nearly hundreds of accredited U.S. colleges to offer virtual career training for those positions (and some others, along with classes on topics like intellectual property law for engineers). It also offers exam preparation courses.

Duke University and the for-profit Ashworth College offer similar paralegal certificates online.

LSAT prep online

Those prepping for the LSAT can also do so online. The website https://testmaxprep.com/, for instance, offers test prep programs, including LSAT test prep, costing as low as $50 per month. It gives access to more than 100 hours of lesson videos, four textbooks, a digital LSAT & LSAT-Flex simulator, and detailed analytics to help law students determine where to focus their efforts.

Other options with varying costs are available from the Princeton Review, Kaplan Test Prep, Velocity Test Prep, and Magoosh Online.

Online law degrees

Generally, online bachelors and masters degrees in legal studies are designed to provide an overview of law for those working in other career fields, without having to actually be on campus. Most of such courses exist online.

The American Bar Association doesn’t accredit any fully online J.D. programs, but there are a few options to earn a J.D. in a blended format (partially online, partially offline). As an example, the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, where students visit campus 10 times throughout the program to attend classes and meet professors and classmates.

The Syracuse University College of Law was recently approved for an ABA variance allowing its J.D. program to combine live and self-paced online classes with in-person sessions on the school’s campus or satellite locations.

Continuing legal education credit courses

In many states, attorneys must complete coursework to maintain their licenses to practice law in the U.S, but specific state requirements vary. Students have many options to complete CLE requirements online, including through state bar websites and others such as the National Law Foundation, CLEonline.com, the National Academy of Continuing Legal Education, etc.

Students should check with their respective state bar association regarding whether online coursework is accepted.

Bar exam prep
There are a variety of online courses developed to prepare recent law graduates for the bar exam, which tests whether they qualify to practice law in a given state or jurisdiction.

Some of the best bar exam review courses and online study materials in 2020 are BarMax Review Course, Kaplan Bar Review Course, Bar Prep Hero, Quimbee Bar Review Course, AdaptiBar Prep Course, SmartBarPrep.

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