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Online Law School Vs. Traditional Law School: What You Need to Know About Your Investment

Online Law School Investment, man calculating costs

The idea that lawyers make good money is well-ingrained in American society. When people think of prestigious and well-paid professionals, doctors and lawyers immediately come to mind, and it’s certainly true that there are plenty of attorneys out there who are doing well for themselves.

That being said, even a cursory search regarding whether law school is a good investment will reveal that there are many people who earned their law degrees and are struggling. The 2008 financial crisis hit the legal profession particularly hard, and many recent law school graduates were unable to find gainful employment as attorneys. In addition, while there are undoubtedly high-paying lawyer jobs, people are often surprised to learn that many mid-size law firms have starting salaries that are firmly in the five-figure range.

Whether Any Law School is a Good Investment Depends on the Ratio of How Much You Spend and Your Future Salary

With these kinds of statistics in mind, it only makes sense to think twice about taking out thousands of dollars in student loans to earn a law degree. Whether it’s a “good investment” of course depends on how much you are going to invest.

The reality is that traditional legal education is expensive, no matter how you slice it. According to U.S. News and World Report, the average tuition and fees at private law schools for the 2017-2018 academic year was $47,112, and the average out-of-state tuition and fees for a public law school was not far behind. This means that getting your law degree can easily cost you $150,000 or more, and many law school graduates leave school with student loan debt well above $200,000. In such situations, the financial cost-benefit analysis often swings in favor of another profession unless you somehow believe you are guaranteed a top-paying position.

Abraham Lincoln University Offers You an Online Law School Alternative

If these numbers are dissuading you from pursuing your dream, that’s understandable. Unless you’ve got a rich uncle ready to spring for your legal education or are one of the lucky few that can get a significant scholarship with stellar LSAT scores and a strong academic record, the traditional law school route may not be a good investment for you.

Fortunately, Abraham Lincoln University offers aspiring lawyers an alternative. By ditching the traditional brick-and-mortar academic model, we are able to keep our costs down – and we mean way down. We offer a 100-percent online Juris Doctor program at just $9,100 per year – nearly $30,000 less than what a private law school would cost. In fact, the four-year Juris Doctor program totals just $36,400, which means that the entire program would cost less than one single year at a traditional private law school.

With our flexible online class schedule, you can keep your current job while you attend law school, which means that you will not lose your income from quitting your job as many law students do. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about huge student loan payments when you’re done, allowing you to use your law degree the way you want to, instead of feeling obligated to accept the first offer that comes along to ensure you can cover your bills.

What You Can Do with a Law Degree from an Online Law School?

With a law degree from an online law school, you can pursue a variety of fulfilling and exciting career paths in the legal industry. Here are some of the most common:

  • Attorney – Becoming a licensed attorney is perhaps the most traditional career path you can take with a Juris Doctor from an online law school. Once you’ve earned your law degree from ALU, you can sit for the California bar exam and, if you pass, you will receive your California law license. This means you can practice in virtually any area of law, including personal injury, criminal law, bankruptcy, family law, intellectual property, business law, and estate planning. You can work in transactional law or become a litigator who fights it out in court.
  • Professor of Law – The path to becoming a law professor starts with reviewing what law school employers look for when hiring faculty. Some emphasize which law school you went to, high grades, federal court clerkships, and academic research, while others look for significant practitioner experience or teaching ability to guide students on tasks such legal writing, analysis, and research. All teaching positions, with very few exceptions, require a Juris Doctor degree.
  • Legal Marketer – Legal marketing is an exciting and quickly-growing field. Because certain regulations apply to attorney advertising, marketing a law firm is much different than marketing any other type of business, and many lawyers want to know that their marketing agency understands their specialized needs and the services they are providing to the general public. As a result, having a law degree is a great way to break into the legal marketing field.
  • Compliance Officer – Many compliance positions are “JD preferred;” this means that while a Juris Doctor is not required for the position, employers prefer candidates who have their law degree. Compliance officers are tasked with ensuring that various departments are in compliance with a company’ policies and the relevant law. Companies of all types and sizes have compliance positions, opening up your opportunities significantly.
  • Politics – Take a second to review some of your favorite politicians’ backgrounds –  chances are that many of them have law degrees. Legislators should understand law and policy, and what better way to do so than to attend law school? Furthermore, a legal education teaches you how to argue, be persuasive, and also confers a level of prestige that people take seriously. As a result, a law degree can be a great jumping off point for a career in politics or government.

It’s important to remember that a law degree is extremely versatile. While many people enjoy working as lawyers, you don’t just have to take the California bar exam and be tied down to working in that one state. Jobs can take you around the country or around the world. A legal education teaches you to think critically, solve problems, and persuade others, which are all characteristics that employers actively seek in their job applicants. In addition, when you have a law degree, it makes it much easier to start your own business and be your own boss, in any industry. It’s no surprise that many successful business people and entrepreneurs who have never practiced law hold Juris Doctor degrees. By attending an online law school, you can set yourself up for professional success while avoiding the significant debt that could make earning your Juris Doctor a less than beneficial investment.

Contact Abraham Lincoln University Today for More Information

If you are considering law school, it’s important to consider all of your options. Abraham Lincoln University’s Juris Doctor program offers an affordable option to the traditional brick-and-mortar law school environment that can save you tens of thousands of dollars – if not more. Best of all, our 100% percent online curriculum provides the flexibility that working adults need to succeed. To learn more about our academic programs, call Abraham Lincoln University today at 213-253-5100 or request more information online.

Author: David B. Arato, J.D., is the founder of Lexicon Legal Content.

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Explore how ALU’s online distance education courses can work for you. As one of the top distance education universities in California for non-traditional students, our Admissions team has the information you need to help you with your application and succeed with our school. Additional information is available for those who seek transfer credit or want to study at ALU as an international student.

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