Here at Nitro, we love online college options for their flexibility and affordability. However, every now and then we run into a program that sends up some red flags. Online law degree programs are something we’d advise our readers to carefully, carefully investigate with a critical eye before enrolling.
A serious bump in your career path
We’re not saying that online law degree programs are of poor quality. Rather, the problem is a more-practical one: The American Bar Association (ABA) has not accredited any online law schools.
Most states will not currently allow law-schools grads to sit for the state bar exam unless they have graduated from an ABA-accredited institution.
So yes, that means that some law-school grads have completed their studies online, only to find that they were barred from the bar exam. One attorney in Massachusetts sued over this, and actually prevailed. He is now a practicing lawyer in that state.
However, our guess is that most people don’t want to become embroiled as a party in a lawsuit in order to practice law.
While the ABA may change its tune eventually—and there’s good evidence pointing to some wriggle room on this in the future—for now, your safest bet is to ensure that your law degree is accredited by the ABA.
Online isn’t out of the question
If you’d like to get at least a few credits out of the way online, you might want to consider taking some online classes and then transferring to another institution. Just be sure to carefully plan your strategy in advance, so you ensure that you’re not wasting credits and tuition dollars on something that won’t transfer.
You may also want to consider an online law school if you’d like to work in the field of law but not as a practicing attorney. For example, you may train to become a paralegal online, or you may earn your degree in legal studies.
You can also take study-prep courses online for the LSAT or the bar.
Whatever you decide, make sure you investigate all of your options for financial aid so you can reduce your student loan debt burden after graduation. And remember, you can generally defer your student loans if you’re enrolled in graduate school, so be sure to take advantage of that option if you need the monthly cash flow.
Trish Sammer is Nitro's managing editor. Her work has appeared in Woman’s Day, Redbook, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Forbes. She has also written for various corporate clients, including the tech giant SAP, The Franklin Institute, and PSE&G. When Trish isn’t busy acting as a writing ninja for other people, you can find her … well, writing about other stuff, like divorce and blended family life. She lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, their combined brood, and the world’s laziest dog. Read more by Trish Sammer