Each year, thousands of students from all over the country enroll in law schools with the hope of someday passing the bar exam and becoming licensed attorneys. This is something you've always wanted to do, too, but traditional law schools require a major investment of both time and money -- two commodities that are often in short supply. If those are the only things preventing you from pursuing a law degree, perhaps it's time for you to consider enrolling in a distance learning law school. Here's how to get started.
- Select a school. At present, only a handful of law schools feature a distance learning option, so your choices are rather limited. When evaluating these online law schools, be sure to compare tuition costs, courses offered, faculty qualifications, and estimated timetable for degree completion.
It should also be noted that the American Bar Association has not yet granted formal approval to any online law schools. The American Bar Association has placed certain restrictions on students who complete their law study online. As of this writing, only California, Vermont, Virgina, and Washington allow graduates of online law schools to sit for the bar exam, while New York, Maine, and Wyoming make exceptions for those who can provide proof of office study as well as law school experience. These restrictions are subject to change, so be sure you understand the ABA rules pertaining to your state of residence before proceeding.
- Review the admissions requirements. Each distance learning law school has different admissions requirements that prospective students must meet. Some require that prospective students possess a Bachelor's degree, while others require only two years of post-secondary education. Some schools recommend that you first take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), while others make no mention of it at all. Since you must pay a fee to have your application evaluated, it would be best to apply only to those schools for which you are reasonably qualified. If you have questions about a particular school's requirements or if you're unsure about whether or not you're likely to be accepted, contact the school and ask to speak with an admissions counselor. Only move on to the next step if your questions and concerns have been addressed satisfactorily.
- Follow the application process. Once you have decided which online law school is best for you, it's time to begin the formal application process. This should be spelled out quite clearly on the school's website, and usually consists of gathering transcripts from any colleges you have attended, submitting your LSAT scores (if applicable), obtaining letters of recommendation, and writing a personal statement. You will also have to pay a nonrefundable fee to cover the cost of reviewing your application.
- Wait for a decision. After completing all of the preceding steps, the only thing left to do is wait for that all-important notification letter or email. If you are accepted into the school, you will get a welcome packet in the mail containing information about registering for specific classes. If your application didn't make the cut this time, don't give up. You can always try again at a later date, or submit an application to a different school. With hard work and persistence, you can make your dream of attending law school a reality.