There are many advantages to doing law degrees online but there can be some disadvantages too. It is important to know about both before you enroll for a distance learning law course.
The most important thing to find out before you start is the exact requirements for practicing law in your jurisdiction. The rules for law qualifications are always quite strict in order to protect the integrity of the profession. Therefore, in most jurisdictions you have to pass an accredited law degree course in order to be allowed to practice as a lawyer. Sometimes this rules out distance learning courses.
For example, in the USA, the state of California is the only state where people who have obtained law degrees online can be admitted to the bar to practice as a lawyer. This does not mean that you have to be resident in California at the time you start to study, but you would have to go to California to begin your law practice. After gaining a few years’ experience, you might be able to transfer to another state.
The reason that law degrees online do not qualify for admission to the bar in other states is that all other states require a law degree that is accredited by the American Bar Association. At the time of writing, the ABA does not accredit any law degrees online.
However, this might change in the future. If the ABA were to accredit an online law degree, then the situation would change. It would probably then be possible to sit for the bar in any state with that ABA accredited qualification.
It is important, too, not to assume that all law degrees online will provide the qualification that you want. In most cases, there will be additional requirements. For example for the California bar, you must either already have a bachelor’s degree, or have completed at least two years of college education with a grade point average at or above the level required to graduate.
Law degrees online in the USA must be registered with the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California in order to count for the California bar. These degrees require at least 864 hours of study per year. That is 18 hours per week for 48 weeks of the year, so it is a big commitment.
In other countries, the rules will be different. For example in the UK, you can take a distance learning law degree with the Open University as well as other institutions that offer teaching online. Some students from overseas often apply for US or UK law degrees online to have that on their resume before going on to specialize in the law of their own country.