How Do I Choose the Best Online Legal Classes?

C. Mitchell

Choosing the best online legal classes is usually a matter of figuring out what exactly you are hoping to learn, then doing a bit of research into your options, their credibility, and their cost. Online learning in the legal field is diverse and broad-ranging, which often makes choosing classes difficult. Most courses are designed for law students and lawyers, though community groups and law firms may also offer online seminars and classes geared more towards the public. The overall quality of these classes, as well as their credibility, can vary tremendously. In most circumstances, the best thing to do when choosing online legal classes is to spend as much time researching the legitimacy and suitability of a course as looking for options in the first place.

Online legal classes can help you learn about even complex legal issues.
Online legal classes can help you learn about even complex legal issues.

A careful accounting of goals is a practical first step for anyone looking at online education, but is particularly important where legal coursework is concerned. The law is very different in different places. Even something as simple as tax obligations can vary, certainly by country but often even between cities, states, and provinces. Before you begin a course of legal learning, you need to have a precise idea of what you want to learn in order to ensure that your education will be relevant and helpful.

Once you have a sense of what you hope to learn, you will need to begin looking for credible providers. A great many legal institutes, law schools, and firms offer online classes. Some not-so-legitimate providers peddle online legal courses as well, however. In order for any online educational resources to be helpful, they must be authored or taught by legitimate legal experts. It is crucial that you take the time to read the fine print, investigate sources, and learn about providers before you enroll.

Some of the most popular online legal classes are geared towards practicing lawyers. Many of these fall within the realm of continuing education classes. Lawyers in most parts of the world are required to supplement their education by taking a certain number of additional training courses, and most jurisdictions permit at least a portion of these classes to be taken over the Internet. Attorneys looking to get further education online usually need to do little more than research their licensing organization’s rules, then look for accredited online courses that fall within their realm of general interest.

Accreditation is also important for law students looking to earn either online credits or an online degree. Most jurisdictions require that law students take at least some portion of their courses live, which means in a brick-and-mortar classroom. Online universities often meet this requirement through compressed weekend courses or certain live seminars, but this is something to keep in mind and ask about as you plan your education.

Students in traditional law schools must also inquire about any restrictions their school places on online legal classes. Most universities will accept some credits earned online, but they are often very strict about the sorts of classes that will qualify. An online class that is offered by a top professor in exactly your area of interest will nevertheless not be the best one for you if your school will not honor it.

People looking for basic legal information courses online often have slightly different considerations. Geography and jurisdiction is usually one of the most important. The credibility of the teachers is also something to keep in mind. Usually, it is best to take community-oriented online classes only from law firms or organizations that you know and trust.

It is also very important for learners to understand that no online legal classes can substitute for actual legal advice. Courses can help students understand and apply basic legal concepts, but they can never provide specific information or individual recommendations. Online legal classes that promise to provide tailored advice should be viewed with some skepticism.

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