Online law school won’t get you the ivy-covered walls. You may miss the opportunity to sit in a musty library amid portraits of serious-looking men. But you will get a solid education in the law. After many years battling professional prejudice, online law and paralegal schools have finally arrived.
Evolution of Online Law School
A major hurdle online law schools have had to overcome is logistical: how to simulate the face-to-face interaction so crucial to a traditional campus JD program. Online lectures and book learning may suffice for paralegal schools, but fledgling lawyers need opportunities to practice litigation: opening statements, oral argument, and courtroom presentation skills. The ABA cited the absence of ‘live,’ applied training in their 2001 decision to withhold accreditation from online law schools.
The Information Age
But as virtual capabilities evolve by leaps and bounds, it becomes increasingly difficult to argue that anything is impossible online. Many legal procedures these days depend on technology. Live litigation is becoming a relic in many areas of law. The vast majority of paralegals and lawyers rely on the Internet to research cases, communicate with clients, prepare and submit briefs and documents, and even execute legally-binding contracts.
Just Like Being There
Online law and paralegal schools have taken advantage of interactive virtual media to simulate a ‘live’ educational component. As these methods become increasingly sophisticated, more online programs are beginning to earn accreditation. Some features of new online law schools:
- Professors deliver lectures in RealAudio.
- Chat rooms feature lively debates on everything from torts to Internet jurisprudence.
- Students perform opening statements live via webcam, or upload a digital video.
- Streaming technology allows live ‘conference call’ oral arguments and debates between students.
Virtual is virtually there, in these days of ever-present wireless and instantaneous networking. Online law and paralegal schools are not just convenient–they’re the next step in education.