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How To Choose The Right Online J.D. Program

The COVID-19 pandemic forced law schools across the U.S. to go virtual. Since then, online legal education has only grown. And, experts say, it will only get bigger.

For prospective law school applicants, the process of applying to a fully online J.D. program may be overwhelming. What are the benefits? Are there any negatives? Gabriel Kuris, founder of Top Law Coach and contributor at US News, recently offered three tips for how applicants can go about choosing an online J.D. program that’s right for them.


Reputation is still king in the legal industry. Kuris says the first thing applicants should look at is the name recognition of a law school and the quality of its online program.

“The quality of instruction may be even more relevant to online law programs than in-person ones,” Kuris writes. “While there are good and bad teachers at every law school, higher-ranked law schools tend to attract superior professors. Furthermore, since the value of an online law degree in job markets is still untested, participants may want to stick with more well-known and well-regarded programs with strong alumni networks.”


Online programs will typically vary in what specializations they offer to students. Kuris recommends applicants to do their research based on what career goals they have.

“Applicants who already have a J.D. or a foreign equivalent might instead consider an LL.M., which is a master’s degree in law,” Kuris writes. “Many schools offer fully online one-year LL.M. programs focused on legal specialties like tax or international law.”


Due to the virtual environment of online programs, hands-on learning opportunities may not be as accessible when compared to traditional, in-person programs. Thus, Kuris stresses the importance of seeking out programs that can offer experiential learning to some degree.

“Perhaps the aspect of legal education that graduates most value is the practical experience gained from working in small groups, clinics and volunteer activities on campus,” Kuris writes.

Sources: US News, Connecticut Law Review