The Juris Doctorate (JD) degree, also referred to as the doctor of jurisprudence, has the function of providing law students with primary preparation (and prerequisite) before they take the bar exam and get the licensure to practice law.
It is more of a professional law degree than a research one, as the Juris Doctor acquires extensive and specialized knowledge of the legal system and develops the law students’ skills in legal analysis and writing, public speeches, trial procedures, and more.
After graduating with a Juris doctor degree, you can pursue one of the most lucrative career paths and work in a JD program, for example, as a judge, a lawyer, and work in a notable law firm, as a professor, or a consultant.
In a world report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary of a lawyer in 2019 was almost $123,000.
It is an impressive figure, being a few times higher than the average national salary for all the other jobs.
Interestingly, now you do not have to attend all the classes at a brick-and-mortar university.
You can easily find an online j.d. program that will make it possible for you to study and obtain legal knowledge and still get quality legal education without leaving home, which can be useful for various reasons – a busy schedule, being a parent, or staying safe at home during the pandemic.
Use these Page Jumps to Navigate the Page!
- The Requirements for Students of Most Online Law Schools
- The Reasons for Getting a JD in an Online Law School
- The Benefits of Being a Juris Doctor
- How to Choose from So Many Online Law Programs?
- Job Opportunities With a Degree in Law
- What is an ABA-Accredited School?
The Requirements for Students of Most Online Law Schools
If you want to complete your legal studies education, the requirements depend on the online law degree level you are trying to get. It takes four years for students to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree from an online school of law, and students can find excellent, completely online programs to achieve that.
Without this degree, you will not be able to get an online Master’s and, furthermore, a Juris Doctor’s degree and take the bar exam.
While working on their Master’s degree, students of online law schools mostly explore a chosen field- criminal law, business law, health law, cybersecurity law, and so on. It is a crucial step forward from just having a Bachelor’s degree, but it is still not enough to sit for the bar exam, which is essential to becoming a licensed lawyer.
The highest law degree students can have is a JD. It is obligatory to get it for anyone who wants to become a lawyer. However, not every online j.d school demands a Master’s degree from those who want to get a JD – sometimes, only a Bachelor’s is enough.
What is more, you need to keep in mind that the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) is also necessary to start education in this field, including online law degree schools. It can be required even when applying for a Master’s program and certainly will be obligatory for students interested in JD programs.
The Reasons for Getting a JD in an Online Law School
Students can be in various life circumstances. For some of them, relocating to a new city is not a problem, and it can even be a good reason to finally move out of their parent’s homes and start a new life. On the other hand, some students find it problematic because they want to keep their job or need to take care of their families while earning a law degree.
Thanks to online j.d programs, you can get a college education in a very flexible way and do not have to resign from pursuing your dreams despite any challenges.
There are many advantages of online learning that you will not get in the case of getting an on-campus degree. For instance, you can usually meet with lower tuition rates. Furthermore, you can save even more money thanks to the lack of the costs associated with commuting or moving closer to the law school.
Apart from that, online schools provide asynchronous courses, so even the busiest students can try to fit them into their schedules.
Also, it does not exclude people who cannot leave their homes too often, due to, for example, having a baby, taking care of a sick family member, being disabled, etc.
In the case of online law classes, you can continue working on your JD even if there are unfavorable circumstances like a pandemic.
The Benefits of Being a Juris Doctor
Here are some of the benefits for law students who graduate from JD programs(also online ones):
- Doctoral-degree level of expertise. Having a doctorate, a JD can meet or even exceed the educational requirements for legal professionals. What is more, you will be provided with helpful expertise associated with a complex discipline or system.
- Meeting one of the requirements to take the bar exam. In most states, a graduate degree is not enough. Having a JD is obligatory to take the bar exam. You cannot apply for state licensure without passing it, so it is a very important condition.
- Becoming a part of the professional community. Thanks to law programs, also online ones, you will have a lot of opportunities to network with other students and legal professionals in the legal field. With such connections, it may be much easier to look for jobs and clients after graduation.
- High salary perspectives. By choosing online j.d. programs, you can expect many lucrative job opportunities when you graduate. With the future high salary in mind, it is easier to find the motivation to study, even if it is a very demanding field.
- Various practice areas. As the industry is segmented, law experts can pursue many specialty areas, such as family law, constitutional law, criminal law, insurance law, and many more. Take into account that the more comprehensive knowledge you offer, the more clients you can attract!
How to Choose from So Many Online Law Programs?
There are numerous online programs for JD to select from, and you may feel overwhelmed with so many options. To help you with that a little bit, we have prepared a list of what to pay attention too while browsing the law courses:
- Program structure. Bear in mind that some of the programs may be hybrid, not entirely online – it means that in some cases, you will have to come to the on-site campus at times. However, it is not necessarily a drawback because it can increase your chances of meeting the accreditation standards of the American Bar Association (ABA).
- Benefits and specializations. While browsing the offer of a particular law program, always pay attention to the available benefits. What is more, make sure that it includes the specialization you are most interested in. For example, if you want to be specialized in cases associated with divorces, adoption, establishing paternity, etc., check if your chosen online program includes family law.
- The time necessary to graduate. Every course can be different, also in terms of the time needed to graduate. Consider if you are interested in the fastest online doctoral programs. They will be more intense but allow you to finish them faster. Or you prefer to take your time to acquire the knowledge more gradually on a longer course.
Job Opportunities With a Degree in Law
With a degree in law after graduating from an online program and passing the bar exam, you can work as, for example:
- A lawyer. Having this job, you will offer legal counseling and representation to organizations and individuals who have to deal with legal problems. Lawyers need to understand the laws in particular circumstances to provide their clients with relevant advice concerning their legal rights and obligations.
This work also includes a lot of research, analysis, preparing legal documents, and making public speeches at court.
- A hearing officer or a judge. These specialists need to perform various responsibilities, such as negotiating, conducting hearings, and making legal decisions. They need to have excellent analytic skills and evaluate evidence, compose legal opinions, and more.
- An arbitrator, a conciliator, or a mediator. The role of these specialists is to help disputants to find a solution to their conflict without going to court. It usually includes meeting with them to learn about their needs and concerns and explaining the arbitration procedure to them. To find the best compromise, it is often necessary to analyze relevant documents and laws, interview witnesses, and prepare such agreements to satisfy both sides as much as possible. It is worth knowing that conciliators and arbitrators are entitled to offer binding decisions, but mediators can’t.
Postsecondary teacher. After graduating from an online JD program, you can also find a job as a university professor or college professor. You will be preparing resources, teaching lessons, mentoring students, and even designing the whole program (online or on-site). Meanwhile, you will be able to contribute to the field’s development by producing and publishing research papers online.
What is an ABA-Accredited School?
When scouting for your first law school, whether a traditional campus-based program, an online degree program, or an online hybrid program, it’s best to go to accredited institutions.
An accredited law school is one whose program is duly approved by the American Bar Association. It takes years for a school of law to get this accreditation, thus, it’s safe to assume that newer schools may potentially lack this accreditation yet.
To date, there are more than 200 ABA-accredited law schools for prospective students. However, ABA believes that in-person classes provide learning opportunities than self-paced and online courses.
This explains why, to this day, no law schools with ABA-approved online jd programs offer 100% fully online distance learning.
But all online juris doctor schools are allowed up to 1/3 of a student’s coursework online.
Plus, more institutions started to implement creative ways in maximizing this allowance.
Back in 2015, ABA started to grant variances to some schools as well, this time, allowing these schools to provide more than 1/3 of their student’s online credits.
Below is a list of ABA-approved online juris doctor school options you might want to consider before you finally decide to join the legal profession.
ABA-approved, Live Online Classes
There are basically two types of ABA-approved online courses available at the moment: the blended program or the online hybrid program, and the weekend-based online learning.
Blended programs are combinations of residential progam and online courses. However, hybrid programs need a variance from the ABA especially of the credit hours each student earn online exceeds the allowed one-third limit.
On the other hand, weekend-based programs no longer need a variance.
Although ABA granted waivers to some few blended programs, only one school offers live sessions out of its online classes:
Syracuse University College of Law
This law school is a private institution that offers a flexible online j.d program called the JDinteractive (JDi) and was recently approved by the ABA in 2018 initially with 65 students.
Today, they are allowed 100 law students each semester.
JDi has three types of instruction:
- Live online classes
- Self-paced online learning
- Six in-person residential program
ABA-Approved, Blended Online College of Law Degrees
These law schools are allowed to offer more than 1/3 of their law students’ credit hours online. The online-portion of the programs, however, are self-paced instead of real-time.
University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law
The legal education hybrid JD program of this private institution was approved by ABA in February 2019. Students can complete their online j.d fully online, although online students are required to join four on-campus weekend immersions each year.
The rest of the online j.d program instruction include recorded and live online classes, writing and reading assigmnents, discussion boards, online instruction, and evaluations.
University of Dayton School of Law
The online hybrid program of the University of Dayton School of Law was accredited by ABA in 2018. With this ABA approved online hybrid class, you can complete the law program in less than four year thur their blending online and in-person learning.
Students in this private institution school of law work through a combination of interactive video classes and online course materials. Plus, every students of their online degree programs are required to complete 10 in-person classes, and a semester-long externship.
Southwestern Law School
In 2017, the school was granted legal studies variance by ABA from the Distance Education Standard 306. In 2019, the school launched its part-time evening online J.D program.
The degree online helps cut down commuting time for those enrolled in the legal field.
For non-traditional students and those who can’t risk their family life, this helps a lot since you will no longer be travelling at least four nights every week just to attend your major and elective courses.
The part-time evening online j.d program of Southwester Law School takes four years to complete.
Mitchelle Hamlin School of Law
Back in 2015, this institution became the very fist online learning law school to be granted a variance from the distance learning requirements from the ABA.
Three years later, their first online j.d degrees graduates completed the j.d program.
The Blendend Learning option of law Mitchell Hamline school is a four-year program that can be completed in three years. During the first two years, you will spend it mostly in hybrid courses (1/3 online, 2/3 in-person).
On the final two years, you have the option to choose from a range of course formats: blended, fully online jd programs, or fully in-person. The online j.d program, however, are self-paced–no ‘live’ online courses, no law school faculty.
ABA-approved, Weekend-based Online JD Program
The school below, although they offer the j.d program, have yet to receive an approval from the ABA to provide more than 1/3 of their online learning. But they still give students more flexibility than the usual on-campus.
Instead of attending live classes everyday, students under the program below are allowd to combine in-person classes and online jd degree on evening or weekends.
Loyola University Chicago School
Just like any law school offering online law programs, Loyola University Chicago school offers the Weekend JD, a part-time program that only needs eight weekend of face to face instruction each semester.
The classes meet every other weekend, and the remaining coursework is completed online thru Sakai, an online collaborative learning environment.
University of Denver Sturm College of Law
This private institution located in Colorado offers a Professional Part-Time JD program where you can take advantage of an online instruction for one third of your coursework, and complete the remaining requirements by taking weekend in-person classes.
Seton Hall University School of Law
Seton Hall University offers its part-time JD program, with one-third of its coursework is done online. This means you can complete your coursework any time– a perfect and flexilbe option if you are a working professional.
In-person classes are scheduled every Saturdays and Sundays spanning eight weeks. Exams are done on the program’s ninth weekend. This j.d program takes four years to complete.
The Pros of Attending an ABA-Accredited School
The primary reason why going for an ABA-accredited online j.d program is that this is required if you want to take the bar exam. Although there are some states allowing students to take the bar from an unacreddited program (like California), this is rather considered an exception than a rule.
It must be noted, however, that not everybody studying law wants to actually become a lawyer. Some are just working professionals who want to pursue an online master in legal studies to better improve their knowledge in legal matters relative to their existing career. In this case, a non-ABA school of law makes sense.
Overall, online law degrees will provide you with many benefits. You will be able to expand your knowledge and get new qualifications without even leaving your home, usually at a lower price than an on-site course.
Thanks to an online course in a law school, it will be easier for you to find a fascinating job with an impressive salary, including a lawyer, a judge, a hearing officer, or an arbitrator.
If you feel that this could be your career path and you want to help people with legal issues, choose a college of law with the best law programs and start it as soon as possible!