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Online Courses and Classes for Law Clerks

Those who wish to serve as law clerks under the direction of a judge must complete a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. Although online J.D. programs are rare, there are programs available in the state of California, and individual courses are available across the country.

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Common Online Law Clerk Courses

Following are descriptions of common online courses found in law programs throughout the country.

  • Writing for the Law Course: This course offers students an opportunity to become familiar with the basic elements of legal analysis and construct well-organized legal writing based on law, facts and precedent. This course focuses on learning to write such legal documents as law office memoranda, demand letters and legal contracts.
  • Civil Procedure Course: This basic law course introduces the law student to the general components of civil procedure. The student learns about the pleading process, the use of litigation and how to determine jurisdiction. The process of complaints, answers and counter-complaints is examined.
  • Criminal Procedure Course: This course familiarizes the student with due process as outlined in the Fourteenth Amendment. Primary focus is on the role of counsel in a criminal case from arrest to trial and appeal.
  • Federal Tax Law Course: The student examines the income tax laws and provisions of the U.S. Constitution. The Internal Revenue Code is used to understand the basis for taxation. The student learns to define the elements of taxation, such as gross income, capital gains and losses, the impact of real property and the tax situation of marriage and divorce.
  • Contracts Course: This course teaches the law as it pertains to contracts and covers issues such as breach of contract, third party contracts and other aspects of contract law. Students also learn about the formation of contracts and fraud.
  • Electronic Discovery Course: This course provides an introduction to electronic discovery and digital evidence. Students develop their skills in information technology so that they are able to identify, analyze and verify the integrity of electronically stored information.
  • Legal Research Course: In this course, students develop their skills in conducting research in a law library and searching for information in computer-based legal databases. They also learn to identify, interpret and shepardize legal authorities.

Program Information

Fully online and hybrid programs are available for law clerks through law programs. Some law schools offer online certificates in various areas of law. Online courses for law clerks focus on different aspects of the law, such as family law, tort law and tax law. Courses in procedure and law writing also are available. Additionally, law clerks must have completed the coursework necessary to graduate from law school, which may not be fully available online.

Schools that offer online courses and classes for law clerks may offer coursework as independent study or as scheduled interaction through email and online bulletin boards. The independent study option allows the student the flexibility to study at his or her own pace. Classes with scheduled interaction require the student to participate in online discussion groups and upload assignments on a regular basis.

Law clerks can increase their knowledge in particular areas of the law, as well as their writing and research skills, by taking online courses through law schools. Some courses can be completed on the student's own time, but others have scheduled sessions and deadlines.

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