The law touches every aspect of life in one way or another but can be hard to understand. Therefore, lawyers are needed to help individuals, groups, and companies navigate what are often complex legal waters. While most attorneys earn their law degrees by attending traditional law schools, an online law degree program is also an option. However, there are no online law schools that are accredited by the American Bar Association at this time, and a requirement for taking the bar exam in 49 of the 50 states is that the person taking the exam has a law degree from an accredited law school. But California is the one exception to this rule, so for people who live there or plan to move there, an online law degree program may be a viable option.
Employment Outlook in Law Degree
Positions available for attorneys nationally is expected to grow 11% by 2016, which is right at the national average for all jobs. This growth will be a result of increased demand in areas such as elder law, energy and environmental law, health care law, and antitrust and intellectual property law. But despite these growth areas, the overall rate of growth will remain average because more and more businesses are using paralegals and accountants for tasks that lawyers have done in the past. Additionally, there is an increasing use of arbitration and mediation services between parties involved in legal conflicts in order to avoid the high cost of litigation.
Because of the large number of law school graduates produced each year, there will be a lot of competition for available positions. Therefore, attorneys who are willing to relocate geographically may have more opportunities, but moving to a new state does require passing that state’s bar exam. Changes in the overall economy also affect the employment outlook for lawyers because during down times unessential legal expenses, like the preparation of wills or real estate transactions, are often cut from budgets. An attorney can take advantage of an advanced degree though to protect against these difficulties. Lawyers with advanced degrees are good candidates for specialized areas like patent or tax law.
Attorneys usually make very good salaries. In fact, the median salary for lawyers in 2006 was $102,500. Lawyers who work for legal aid societies or who serve as public defenders for local and state governments make less than their colleagues who earn top dollar for working in prestigious law firms or who use their law degrees in becoming the head of a business.
Educational Requirements in Law Degree
Those entering law school or pursing law degrees online need to first have a bachelor’s degree in some area. Since earning a bachelor’s degree usually takes 4 years and law school another 3, prospective students are looking at a seven-year educational process in order to be ready to take the bar exam. Students applying to law school must first take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).
Upon successful completion of law school, a graduate is awarded a juris doctorate (J.D.) and is then ready to take the bar exam.
The same is true if the student earns an online law degree
Most states also require that lawyers learn and pass a separate nursing and ethics exam as well. Once they have passed both of these, they are “admitted to the bar,” which means they are licensed to practice law in that state. Once fully credentialed, the legal education doesn’t stop for attorneys though. Each year they must participate in continuing legal education programs in order to stay abreast of changes in the law and to keep their license current.