Should I Get an Online Law School Degree?

Update: Here are some additional resources on online law schools and online law degrees.

Have you ever wondered whether online law schools are scams? To date, the American Bar Association has not approved any online law schools. Recently, advertisements on Law Student have included Google ads for online law degrees. We can’t easily prevent these ads, but we can evaluate them.

What is wrong with online law degrees and online law schools?
Google ads promote Concord Law School, California School of Law, and The Novus University. Many other online law schools exist, such as the William Howard Taft University and the Oak Brook College of Law and Government Policy.

The problem is these online law schools are not approved by the American Bar Association, and as a result, very few states will allow graduates of these schools to take the bar exam required to become a licensed attorney in that state. In other words, students can get online law degrees, but they can’t practice law in most states.

California is the Exception for Online Law School Admission
California is one state with an exception. California does not require students to have degrees from an ABA approved law school before taking the California bar exam. However, passing the California Bar Exam is very difficult. And statistically, students from law schools not approved by the ABA fail the California Bar Exam more often than other students.

Other California Challenges: Passing the Bar and Getting a Job
Once students from a law school not approved by the ABA pass the California Bar Exam, they have other problems.

First, these students can generally only practice in California, but some states make exceptions after the student practices law in California for a few years.

The next challenge is getting a job. Students from a law school not approved by the ABA will automatically be categorized as less qualified than other law school graduates, which is especially a problem in a tough job market with many law students seeking legal jobs.

Deception of Online Law Schools and Students’ Reliance on the Deception
The problem with online law schools is they advertise themselves using terms like “accredited,” “recognized,” or “registered with the State Bar of California.” This misleads prospective students into believing an online law degree has the same credentials and standing as a law degree from an ABA approved law school. In reliance on this, students invest thousands of dollars and years of their lives only to experience great disappointment upon realizing the limitations of an online law degree.

On the Other Hand
Of course, there are students who realize the limitations of an online law degree. Also, some students wouldn’t be able to get any law degree if they couldn’t get an online law degree. Further, students may not want to practice law, so they don’t care about not being able to take the Bar Exam. Finally, some students of these schools are happy with their online law degree.

While all these things may be true, two concerns remain:

  1. Most students seeking online law degrees probably don’t know how limited their degree is, and they don’t know the challenges they face.
  2. Even if students know the limitations of an online law degree and don’t intend to practice law, they may change their mind about this after it’s too late. They will have spent thousands of dollars and years of their lives on a degree that fails to allow them to practice in the exact area they have been trained.

Conclusion: Enroll in Online Law Schools with ALL the Facts

I have no axe to grind with online law schools. But people considering an online law degree deserve to enroll with their eyes wide open. Online law schools should not mislead students into thinking their law degree is equivalent to a law degree from an ABA approved law school.

Learn More About Earning Your Law School Degree Online

This article is one of a series of online law school articles. Read the series here: online law school.

For more information, visit our Online Law Schools section or this website: Law School Online.