Free Online Lectures and Courses for Law

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “legal professions and studies” is one of the most popular doctoral pathways in the country, with more than 44,000 degrees awarded during the 2009-10 academic year alone. Although bachelor’s and master’s degrees in this field are rare (and somewhat insufficient without the J.D. credential), students must take law-related courses throughout their college career in order to obtain a doctorate and compete in the job market. In addition to practicing attorneys, these individuals go on to pursue careers as paralegals, politicians, law enforcement officials, juvenile detention officers, and other occupations whose general purpose is to interpret the law for the general public.

Due to the breadth of sub-disciplines in the legal profession, specializations are typically required for law students. Law degree-holders typically find work in either a firm or private practice, but they may address legal issues pertaining to the environment, business, health care, or other industries and fields that require legal representation.

Regardless of the specific nature of their work, all legal professionals share a passion for upholding the U.S. Constitution, representing individuals or companies during courtroom proceedings, and redefining our nation’s legal system when improvements or amendments are needed.

Sample Courses

A recent article from U.S. News & World Report noted that, while many schools offer pre law majors for undergraduate students, students who studied economics, journalism, philosophy, and other fields were actually more likely to be accepted into law schools (most of which do not adhere to a stringent list of prerequisites). Regardless of their major, aspiring law students should maintain good grades and thoroughly study for the LSAT in order to earn a high score.

Prospective law students can learn more about the finer points of this field by enrolling in open courses taught by faculty members from some of the world’s most prestigious colleges and universities.

Possible Specializations

Most law schools will offer a wide range of specializations, some of which are unique to that particular college or university. However, there are several concentrations common to most law schools. These include criminal law, which prepares students to prosecute or defend clients during trials and other legal proceedings; business law, which enables law students to work for corporations or firms that require continual legal representation; constitutional law, which focuses on rights afforded to U.S. citizens; patent or intellectual property law, which serves inventors and creative professionals, respectively, by protecting their original work; and environmental law, which emphasizes mediation between government agencies, land users, and companies that profit from the cultivation of natural resources.

Degree Types

In order to practice law in the U.S., students must receive a J.D. credential and pass the rigorous Bar Exam in their respective state. However, lesser degrees will prepare prospective attorneys for the careers that lie ahead. Here is a rundown of the four most common degree types available at accredited colleges and universities.

Associate

A two-year associate degree will primarily consist of introductory courses in core subjects like science, history, and English. Very few law courses are offered at this level, and those available will not be sufficient on their own to allow you to pursue a career as a legal professional. However, these lower-level courses will introduce fundamental concepts, and allow students to decide whether or not to pursue higher degrees in the field of law.

Bachelor’s

As stated above, prelaw undergraduate programs are offered at dozens of colleges and universities across the country ― but this degree pathway is not a requirement for admission into law school. The bottom line: no bachelor’s degree will be sufficient for practicing law, but four-year degree-holders may be able to secure work as a probation officer, court reporter, bailiffs, or other occupations within the legal profession.

Master’s

With the exception of practicing attorneys, most legal professionals will be able to obtain employment after completing a master’s program. This is true for most paralegals, as well as juvenile detention officers and other law enforcement personnel in positions of leadership.

Ph.D.

The Juris Doctor credential is awarded to all students who graduate from law school programs for lawyers and attorneys. The curriculum will consist of numerous mock trials, as well as a clerkship or other form of legal internship, during which students are assigned to practicing attorneys, judges, or other high-ranking law professionals.

Law students who earn the J.D. are encouraged to visit their state’s Bar Association site for tutorials, guidelines, and other materials that will help them prepare for the mandatory Bar Exam.

Ideal Candidates for Law

First and foremost, law can be a very demanding profession; lawyers will spend long hours, nights, and weekends in their office or preparing for cases at their local library, and (depending on their specialty) a certain percentage of their work will be pro bono, or unpaid. Legal professionals must be able to commit a good deal of time and money in order to run a successful practice or positively contribute to their firm.

A firm grasp on the U.S. Constitution, willingness to work with people who have a criminal past, and the ability to clearly present facts and arguments in front of an audience are also valuable assets for anyone in the legal industry.

Career Pathways

Legal practice is a highly competitive field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 750,000 attorneys are currently practicing law in the United States, and this job is expected to grow 10% between 2012 and 2022. The median salary for these professionals is $113,530 per year, which translates to an hourly wage of $54.58. Court reporters earned less than half as much as lawyers, but face the same rate of growth over the 10-year period. Jobs for judges and hearing officers, on the other hand, are expected to increase only 1% over the same span.

Paralegals and legal assistants earn lower salaries, but face a brighter job outlook. The median salary for these professionals was $46,990 per year in 2012 ($22.59 per hour), but the industry is expected to grow 17% between 2012 and 2022, which is much faster than the average rate of growth for all professions.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in any legal profession, networking with practicing attorneys and employees of legal firms is a good first step. These individuals will be able to provide valuable advice regarding college courses, law school admission, and post graduate employment. Many colleges and universities also host student associations for aspiring lawyers and legal professionals.

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Law Journals & Trade Magazines

  • Journals

    • Columbia Law Review

      "Edited and published entirely by students at Columbia Law," this well-respected journal presents between 20 to 25 manuscripts annually and supplements the publication with Sidebar, an online forum.

    • Harvard Law Review

      This student-run journal is published monthly from November through June, includes articles from students, practitioners, and professors, and boasts President Barack Obama among its eminent alumni.

    • Notre Dame Law Review

      Seeking to "enrich discourse in the legal community," while staying true to its Catholic roots, this student-run publication devotes one issue each year to federal civil practice and procedure.

    • Stanford Law Review

      This prestigious academic journal publishes contributions from students, professors, judges and practitioners six times each year and also offers short, accessible pieces online via its website.

    • Texas Law Review

      With a "generalist approach of publishing articles about most any aspect of law," the TLR promotes the understanding of diverse legal fields with articles, as well as student notes and book reviews.

  • Trade Magazines

    • ABA Journal

      One of the "most respected legal affairs magazines" offers feature stories, analysis from thousands of blogs and daily breaking news on the latest developments ...

    • Law Practice

      This online version of the ABA's publication focuses on the business of law. Law Practice offers tips, perspectives and feature stories to help legal ...

    • National Jurist

      This self-styled "voice of legal education" seeks to tell the stories of law schools and students with news, insight and special sections dedicated to ...

    • National Law Journal

      The NLJ offers top news, special reports, surveys, lists and detailed analysis on discrete areas of law, including regulation, litigation and the Supreme ...

    • Paralegal Today

      Designed to help paralegals reach their career goals, this online magazine provides legal professionals with "the latest news, salary data, how-to, tips and ...

Law Grants & Scholarships

  • Scholarships

    • ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship

      Deadline: March 3

      Award Amount: $15,000

      Incoming law students who have demonstrated academic success, a commitment to public service, and who have overcome adversity are eligible for this ...

    • Agnes Jones Jackson Scholarship

      Deadline: March 17

      Award Amount: $2,000

      Eligible applicants are current members of the NAACP and are enrolled in an accredited program and demonstrate financial need.

    • Anheuser-Busch/NLF Presidential Scholarship

      Deadline: September 1

      Award Amount: $7,500

      Students eligible for this scholarship must be enrolled in an accredited law school and demonstrate potential to serve the Asian Pacific American community.

    • Arthur Lockwood Beneventi Law Scholarship

      Deadline: February 15

      Award Amount: $2,000

      Students enrolled in or attending an accredited law school and have a GPA of at least 3.25 are eligible for this scholarship.

    • Charles H. Walker Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship

      Deadline: February 14

      Award Amount: $10,000

      Including both a cash award and a paid summer associate position, this is open to first year students who demonstrate commitment to service and academics.

    • George H. Nofer Scholarship

      Deadline: April 10

      Award Amount: $5,000

      Eligible applicants have a prelingual hearing loss, but use spoken language and have unaided PTA of at least 60dB.

    • LEX Scholarship

      Deadline: February 28

      Award Amount: $500

      Paralegal students in schools with an AAfPE chapter and who are in good standing are eligible for this scholarship, awarded on the quality of a prepared essay.

    • NFPA Thomson Reuters Scholarship

      Deadline: July 1

      Award Amount: $5,000

      This scholarship offered through the NFPA is open to students enrolled or accepted in a paralegal education program with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

    • Rodney Pulliam Memorial Scholarship

      Deadline: January 24

      Award Amount: Variable

      This scholarship is open to NLBSA students in their 3rd or 4th year of law school who plan to work in the public interest sector.

    • Sandy Brown Memorial Scholarship

      Deadline: January 24

      Award Amount: Variable

      NLSBA members in their 1st or 2nd year of law school are eligible to apply for this scholarship.

    • Sidney B. Williams, Jr. Scholarships

      Deadline: March 14

      Award Amount: $10,000

      Law students who demonstrate a commitment to building a career in intellectual property law, high academic performance and financial need are eligible to ...

    • Trial Advocacy Scholarship

      Deadline: May 1

      Award Amount: $3,000

      AAJ student members entering their 2nd or 3rd year who express a desire to represent victims and show a financial need are eligible to apply.

Law Internships

  • American Civil Liberties Union

    Deadline: N/A

    Students committed to civil liberties and civil rights with a demonstrated interest in social justice and the law find internship opportunities across the country with the ACLU.

  • Department of Justice Summer Internship

    Deadline: N/A

    Most applicants selected for this program have completed at least two years of law school and have demonstrated a commitment to government service, leadership and academic achievement.

  • Department of Justice Volunteer Internship

    Deadline: N/A

    Students who have completed at least one semester of law school and are currently enrolled at least half time are eligible to volunteer with the DOJ's civil division.

  • Empire Justice Center Diversity Clerkship

    Deadline: N/A

    Second year law students from historically underrepresented populations are eligible for this summer position in Rochester, New York.

  • Juvenile Law Center Clerkships

    Deadline: N/A

    1st and 2nd year students are eligible to apply for these unpaid, ten-week full time clerkships researching, writing, and providing litigation and legislative support on children's rights issues.

  • NLF Public Interest Internship

    Deadline: N/A

    Sponsored by the NAPABA's Law Foundation (NLF), this program places an intern with a public interest organization that provides legal services to the Asian Pacific American community.

  • OSCAR

    Deadline: N/A

    Students seeking clerkships with federal judges and staff attorneys' offices find and apply for a variety of internship and other opportunities via the OSCAR application system.

  • Southern Poverty Law Center Summer Legal Internship

    Deadline: N/A

    Exceptional students who have completed their second year of law school and have a demonstrated commitment to public interest law are eligible to apply for this paid summer internship.

  • U.S. Department of the Interior Legal Internship

    Deadline: N/A

    Students in good standing at accredited law schools, particularly Native American candidates, with excellent research and writing skills are encouraged to apply for this internship.

Law Student & Professional Organizations

  • Student Organizations

    • International Law Students Association

      ILSA offers students educational, research and networking opportunities through international student organizations, academic conferences and its International ...

    • National Black Law Student Association

      Offering networking, educational support and professional development, NBLSA serves its student members through local chapters, regional events and national ...

    • Phi Alpha Delta

      PAD promotes professionalism in the practice of law with educational and networking opportunities that "unite students and teachers of the law with members of ...

    • The Federalist Society

      Conservative and libertarian students enjoy educational opportunities and networking with judges and attorneys through the Society's special events, sponsored ...

  • Professional Organizations

    • American Bar Association

      The ABA supports lawyers and other legal professionals with continuing education, career resources, networking opportunities and publications on the latest legal news.

    • American Inns of Court

      Catering to attorneys, law students, legal scholars and judges, the Inns offer professional development and continuing education focusing on "professionalism, ethics, civility, and legal skills."

    • Association for Legal Professionals

      NALS enhances "competencies and contributions of members in the legal services profession" through networking and training opportunities, including multimedia webinars through its WebEd.

    • Association of Legal Administrators

      The ALA supports legal professionals charged with the management of firms and agencies with professional development and its Certified Legal Manager (CLM) certification program.

    • Association of Legal Assistants

      NALA supports legal assistants and paralegals with educational programs, professional development opportunities and online resources including NALA NET, an online case law library.

    • National Association for Law Placement

      Committed to fostering "fair and ethical hiring," NALP offers networking and education to legal employment professionals through its annual conference, forums and online webinars.