Is an Online Legal Studies Degree Worth it?

An online legal studies degree is worth it because graduates will be able to find entry-level jobs in various legal settings. This may include careers in law firms, regulatory offices, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Depending on the online school or college that offers the degree, graduates may not qualify for state paralegal exams or national certifications for legal assistants. An online legal studies degree from a regionally accredited university is the best choice for a law-related career.

Program Benefits

An online legal studies degree offers basic knowledge of legal practice, writing, research, reasoning, and communication. Students are introduced to the U.S. court system, legal institutions and various types of law. They will learn about legal governance, civil and criminal processes and justice theories and philosophies. This degree will prepare students for careers as law clerks, court assistants, and paralegals. These programs require students to conduct law-related research and complete research in a wide range of disciplines. Students will learn about how legal theories are translated into practical settings and applications in both private and public practices. Most legal studies programs are taught by instructors who have some type of employment experience in civic, criminal, business or family law. Students will be able to identify historical events and figures that have contributed to the U.S. court system.

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Degree Program Objectives

Online legal studies degrees usually come with basic learning objectives. For instance, graduates of this program should be able to conduct legal research, analyze legal issues, evaluate facts and assist in investigations. They will know the fundamentals of legal writing and citation, which means they will be able to create legal forms, contracts, pleadings, memorandum and other documents. Students will be familiar with the procedural systems and standards used by legal institutions for agency rulemaking policy adjustments, court proceedings, and agency adjudication. Graduates will be able to explain the various rights provided to citizens by the Constitution, Amendments, Bill of Rights and various Supreme Court decisions. Students will be introduced to current technologies used in law firms, such as case management systems and legal research databases. Students will be able to define the ethical issues faced by legal professionals and the legal community.

Legal Knowledge

Online legal studies degree programs will provide students with solid legal knowledge. There are introductory classes on law, so students become familiar with the structure and administration of state and federal courts, and there may be advanced classes that examine the function of trial and appellate courts as well as the differences between procedural and substantive laws. Classes on contract law examine concepts like formation defects, performance failure, and breach remedies. Classes on property law explore topics related to insurance fraud, real estate financing, property interest and residential property mortgages. Classes on torts introduce students to the legal foundations of civil wrongs, such as negligence, defamation and products liability. There will also be classes on civil litigation, which covers things like pleadings and discovery methods, and also legal research and writing, which covers standard primary and secondary sources of law.

Anyone who wants to learn about becoming a paralegal or legal assistant should visit the BLS’ website. The American Bar Association (ABA) offers a directory of approved programs here.