Given the time commitment and expense linked to nearly any law degree program, it is essential to choose one that best fits the needs of a particular student. There are various law degree programs to consider, such as online, part-time, accelerated, and dual-degree programs. In addition, a potential student may consider factors such geographic area, tier, and specialties associated with the school or program.
There are several different ways a student can take classes. Online studies are one option. Online classes are typically conducted completely over the Internet, forcing the student to dedicated herself to her studies without outside enforcers, such as seeing a teacher face-to-face. Although an online law degree program may not be the best option for someone who wants to be hired by a top law firm, it may be ideal for someone who wants to open her own legal practice. Some areas have rules as to who can practice law with an online law degree.
Part-time law degree programs are becoming increasingly popular options because they are easier to get into and less expensive. Classes may be taken at night through many part-time programs as well. This makes it a good choice for someone with a full-time job or a family. Similar to Internet programs, however, students attending a part-time program may find it more difficult to find a job.
Some people may be interested in a dual degree program. For example, they may be interested in pursuing a law degree and a business degree at the same time. There are plenty of programs, often taking an extra year or so to complete, wherein students can graduate with two degrees. Having two degrees generally is most useful for people interested in such fields as business law, tax law, or international law.
While some law degree programs may take longer to complete, such as the part-time and dual degree programs, there are some schools that offer accelerated programs. These programs are perfect for people who want to finish law school in about two years instead of the typical three-year program. They are ideal for people who have plenty of time for their studies and who are extremely dedicated to becoming a lawyer.
When choosing a law degree program, the geographic location of the school may be important for many students as well. The location is primarily important during the post-graduation job search. Many times, networking with other lawyers and firms in the area is done during law school. As a result, it may be easier to find a job if the student attended law school in the place where she wants to practice law. In addition, local law degree programs may be less expensive, particularly at public institutions.
The tier in which the law degree program is placed may also be important. The highest tiered programs are typically the most respected. As a result, those students can typically find jobs and internships rather quickly. As the program slips to lower tiers, it is easier for potential students to receive admission, however. Consequently, if lower caliber students are primarily accepted by the lower tier programs, many firms will pass over those graduates and hire a graduate from a higher tiered program. If a student knows going into a law degree program that she will be working with a particular law firm upon graduation or that she is going to practice law on her own, it is perfectly acceptable to attend a lower tiered program.
Some law degree programs offer specialties for their students as well. For example, some programs may allow their students to focus on topics such as environmental law, international law, or health care law. These programs may give students the chance to take in-depth classes on these topics or may even offer hands-on experience through internships at law firms dedicated to a particular specialty. A student who knows she wants to specialize in a certain field may want to find a law degree program that offers classes and other experiences in that field.