2021 Guide to Short Courses in Law 

There’s more than one way to learn about the law. Short courses in law can help busy professionals expand their legal knowledge and skills in a short time frame without committing to a full degree program. By taking law courses online, you can deepen your understanding of legal topics or test out a potential new career path from the comfort of your home.

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Short courses can refer to broad types of short-term courses that can be completed in several weeks to several months. Many legal short courses are delivered online by law schools and may be listed as online law courses. Course topics vary and may cover law specializations such as contract law, data privacy or health care compliance or focus on a practical interdisciplinary topic, such as law and finance in entrepreneurship or digital transformation of legal services. These courses may be taken to supplement or deepen legal knowledge, study for an exam or just to pursue an area of interest. 

Admission requirements for short courses depend on the topic and the structure of the course. While there are some short courses that are designed for lawyers, many are open to applicants without a legal background.

Some schools issue a certificate of completion to students who meet the short course requirements by the end of the program. However, it is important to note that certificates of completion are different from legal certificates, which take longer to complete or count as credits toward a degree program.

Benefits of Short Courses in Law

Short courses in law may be useful for a number of reasons and benefit both legal and non-legal professionals. Read on to learn about the advantages of taking law courses online.

Flexibility to Learn Law Courses Online

Online law courses may be more flexible and allow you to more easily fit education into your schedule, studying and doing classwork when it’s convenient for you. Online law courses also eliminate the need to commute to campus, which may be helpful for working professionals, busy adults or people living in areas without access to a traditional college or university. Online law courses also typically take less time to complete than a degree program. In addition, schools may offer the course more than once a year, so busy working professionals can choose the sessions that fit their schedule.

Various Topics in Different Fields and Levels

Short courses in law are available in a wide variety of topics, covering everything from taxation and business compliance to intellectual property and strategic negotiations. Online short courses in law may include entry-level courses for those new to the field as well as advanced courses to help professionals deepen their knowledge in key areas. Students or working professionals can choose the topic based on the areas of law they are interested in and the levels that meet their needs.

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Opportunities to Try Out a Career in Law

Taking online law courses may allow you to explore specific areas of the law before you embark on a career. If you have never worked in the legal field, taking introductory courses and meeting professionals in the industry may give you a better picture of the working environment and potential career paths. This may be a great way to test your interest. Over time, if you want to continue to build your knowledge and skills, you might consider an advanced degree, such as an online master’s in legal studies

Specialized and/or Transferable Legal Skills 

If you currently work in a legal-related field, specialized short courses may advance your knowledge and skills in key areas, like compliance management or property law. Gaining knowledge in a specialized area may prove useful as you define your career path or meet the evolving challenges of your field. Meanwhile, some interdisciplinary short courses may also provide transferable skills you can apply in future careers, such as leadership in the legal profession or conflict resolution skills. 

Networking Opportunities

Legal short courses offer a range of benefits for students, including opportunities to network with professionals and your peers in your area of interest or specialization. Short courses may also provide the chance to make connections with industry experts who are already working in a legal profession, including your instructors, allowing students to learn what it’s really like to work in the field. 

Global Legal Courses Available

Many schools allow short courses to be taken by international students. This may allow you to take a deep dive into local law, as well as important local issues, without the expense of relocating or starting a university program before previewing the topics that may be covered. Be sure to check the admission requirements of the school and course you’re interested in for its stance on accepting international applicants.

How to Compare and Choose the Best Short Courses?

There is likely no single best short course in law that fills every student’s requirements. Choosing the right course for you depends on your goals, interest level and experience. Once you define your goal in taking a short course, you should compare programs on that basis. When looking at short courses, you will want one that: 

  • Covers topics you are interested in learning.
  • Fits your level of knowledge, ranging from entry-level to intermediate to advanced.
  • Is delivered in a format that allows you to consistently take part in coursework, such as online classes or self-paced study.
  • Matches your goals for education, test prep, career advancement or career exploration.
  • Workload you can guarantee each week.
  • Is taught by qualified instructors or institutions.

Be sure to consider admission requirements, course length and cost to make sure you find the right course.

FAQ on Law Courses Online

If you’re considering a short course in law, you may have some questions about what you can learn and if it’s worth the time and effort. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers:

How long does it take to complete short courses?

Short courses may take a few weeks to a few months to finish depending on specific requirements. The institution offering the course, level of the material, topics and outcome all play a role in determining the length of the course.

Who should consider online short courses in law?

Short courses may be a good option for those who want to learn during free time, are interested in certain fields of law, wish to attain legal knowledge that may help advance their career or provide opportunities to transfer careers. Short courses may also be helpful as test prep for students working toward a law degree.

Will I receive a certificate after having completed the short courses?

Some short courses may offer certificates of completion when you have fulfilled the requirements of the course. This can be added to your resume along with your educational background. It’s important to know that not every course offers a certificate, so check with the school.

Can I practice law after having completed the law course online?

No, you cannot practice law or become a lawyer after completing a short course in law online. You will need to earn a JD (Juris Doctor) degree and pass the bar exam. Learn more about how to become a lawyer, including the steps you need to take before law school.

Are short courses in law worth it?

Short courses are a flexible way to take law courses online. They may help you explore and learn various aspects of the law or consider potential career paths. You may be able to earn a certificate as well, depending on the course. Ultimately, whether the short courses are worth it is up to you.

Can I enroll in short courses from overseas?

Many short courses do allow international students to enroll. However, you must check with the course requirements and confirm if there are any campus visits required. If the online short courses are through a synchronous learning format that requires you join the courses in real time with your peers, make sure you account for the time difference.

Last updated August 2021.