For those who thrive on challenging, meaningful work, a career in the legal field can be enormously rewarding. If you have considered becoming a lawyer, but do not live close enough to an ABA accredited law school, studying law may not seem feasible. However, the State Bar of California allows students who have completed the required coursework through distance learning to sit for the bar exam. If you live in California, or you are willing to relocate for at least a few years, online law schools and online Juris Doctor Degrees can put you on the path to a fulfilling career. In order to earn a law school degree online, you will need to follow the steps listed here.
- Complete your pre-law studies, either through an accredited online university or a traditional 4-year college. While most law students have previously earned at least a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or university, the state of California permits students who have completed 60 credit hours (two full years) of college coursework to register to study law.
- Locate an online law school that meets the standards set by the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California. Online law school programs that meet the criteria of the Committee are eligible to register as approved law school distance education programs. Choosing an internet law school that is approved by the Committee will ensure that your online law degree meets California standards.
- Register as a law student in California. The State Bar of California requires that all first-year law students register with the bar within their first 90 days of law school. Once you are registered, you will receive an identification number that will be used for all subsequent correspondence and required exams.
- Take the First-Year Law Student’s Examination. This is a four-hour exam that is designed to ensure that you are familiar with the basics of law taught in the first year of legal study. You must pass this exam before you will be able to continue with your legal studies.
- Prove that you have “good moral character.” All law students in California must receive a positive determination of moral character, which includes a background check, driving history, credit check, and positive feedback from employers and academic institutions. You will need to apply for a moral character determination, and the process may take from four to six months to complete.
- Complete your legal studies and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam. The purpose of this exam is to determine whether you understand the professional and ethical responsibilities of a lawyer. Once you have passed this exam and completed your coursework, you will be eligible to sit for the bar exam.
- Pass the California State Bar Exam. You will need to arrange to take this exam in person. Once you pass this three-day exam, you will be qualified to practice law in California; you may also practice in federal courts throughout the country. If you intend to practice law in any other state, you will need to work as an attorney in California for approximately five years before you will be eligible to take any other state bar exam.
Law School Online Courses Information
Here’s what you need to know about online law schools and how you can become a lawyer through distance learning.
Online law schools are not accredited by the American Bar Association.
However, this does not mean that earning a law degree online will not permit you to practice law. Although 49 states require that students earn their degrees from an ABA-accredited law school, the state of California allows graduates of internet law school courses to sit for the bar exam. If you choose to earn a law degree online, you will need to either live in California or be prepared to move there, at least temporarily.
Requirements for taking the bar exam in California.
In order to be eligible to take the California bar exam, you will need to meet the following requirements:
- Complete a pre-law degree, or at minimum, successfully complete 60 credit hours of college coursework and maintain at least the minimum GPA required for graduation.
- Register in California as a law student. You can obtain the registration form online.
- Enroll in an online law school that meets the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California, which include 864 hours of class work and study annually.
- Successfully complete all coursework and required law examinations.
- Obtain a positive determination of moral character.
Once you have earned your online law degree, you may apply to take the California bar exam. This three-day examination will test your knowledge of both theoretical and practical applications of law.
Practicing law in other states after passing the California bar
If you have earned a legal degree from an online law school, you will not be eligible to take the bar exam in any other state, at least not immediately. However, you may practice in federal court throughout the United States. If you wish to practice in any other state after passing the California bar, you must work as a practicing attorney for at least five years in California before you may be eligible to sit for another state bar exam.
Keep in mind that, although online law schools may offer courses that compare with those at traditional law schools, they do not command the same prestige; chances are that you will not be considered for high-level law positions with an online degree. However, if you go into your online legal studies with reasonable expectations and a willingness to work hard, you may have a fulfilling and rewarding career in the field of law.
How Attending the Best Online Law School can Help You Become a Practicing Attorney
If you have thought about becoming an attorney, but you are concerned about the cost or time required to attend a traditional law school, an internet law school may be the answer you have been looking for. The best online law school can help you earn your law degree and become a practicing attorney. There are several things you should know about online law schools before you decide to enroll.
Online law school accreditation
Although the best online law schools offer the same type of coursework you will find at conventional law schools, there are currently no distance learning schools accredited by the American Bar Association. Because all states except California require that prospective attorneys attend an ABA accredited law school in order to sit for the bar exam, you will not be eligible to sit for the bar if you attend an online school, unless you choose to practice law in California.
However, this does not mean that it is not worth your while to study law online. If you become a practicing attorney in California, you will have a few options for taking the bar in another state; many people also choose to study the law online in order to improve their abilities in business or industry management.
Requirements for enrolling in an online law school
Most students who enroll in online law schools have already earned a bachelor’s degree in another subject area. However, because California permits those who have successfully completed a minimum of 60 credit hours at a 2- or 4-year college or university, you may be able to enroll in an internet law school as long as you can document that you have two full years of college coursework behind you.
Once you enroll in an online legal program, you will need to register in the state of California as a law student; you can obtain the necessary paperwork online and submit it via email.
What you need to know about taking the bar exam
Before you can take the bar exam in California, you must complete all required coursework, as well as pass the required legal examinations and a moral character evaluation. Once you have earned your online legal degree, you may apply to sit for the bar in California. Keep in mind that, although all other work can be completed online, you will need to appear in person to take the bar exam.
Becoming a practicing lawyer after attending an online law school
Once you pass the California bar, you will be eligible to practice in the state of California. You may also practice law in any federal court in the United States. In order to become eligible to sit for another state bar, however, you will need to practice in California for five to seven years.
While obtaining a legal degree online may not be the best option for every aspiring attorney, studying the law via distance learning can be the perfect opportunity for the right person.