Students who are interested in family law may study the subject as part of online bachelor's degrees in either legal studies or paralegal studies. These four-year programs are found at several institutions--including many private online schools--and are typically open to those with a high school diploma or GED.
Skills taught in online legal and paralegal studies programs include legal research and creation of briefs, drafting of legal documents, gathering information for client files and assisting in preparation for trial. Those interested in pursuing an advanced law degree may take one of these programs as a precursor to law school.
Online Learning & Coursework
Coursework in a distance learning paralegal studies program can typically be completed totally online. Students use a variety of web tools within a virtual classroom environment to access lectures, complete assessments and work on assignments. Chat rooms, discussion boards and web conferencing may be used to hold class discussions among students and instructors.
The online bachelor's program curriculum includes general education classes in areas like English, math, science and the humanities. The major coursework focuses on the American legal system, legal writing methods and the duties of paralegals. Distance learners also learn about several legal practice areas, including family, criminal, real estate, civil and corporate law. Common online courses include the following:
- Legal research
- Law office management
- Dispute resolution
- Legal brief writing
- Philosophy of law
- Law and society
Completion of a Bachelor of Science in paralegal or legal studies program prepares graduates to begin a career in a private law firm, corporation or government agency. Additionally, they may apply to law school for further studies. Working paralegals and legal assistants have a variety of agencies from which to obtain certifications, which can improve employment opportunities even though they are not required for employment in general. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the field is projected to grow 8% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov).
Through online lectures, assignments and class discussions, students can get the general education and basic legal training they need to begin working in the field as paralegals or legal assistants or, to go on to law school. Bachelor's degree programs in legal, or paralegal studies may include courses that examine various types of law, including family law.