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Students that want to become attorneys need to successfully complete the correct amount of schooling. Students have to complete a specific level of education in order to practice law. Online colleges and universities offer students numerous opportunities to step into careers.

The first thing that needs to be completed in order to enter law school is a bachelor’s degree program. Students can complete a program in any field they desire. Law schools recommend taking some pre-law or paralegal courses to prepare students for training inside their chosen law program. Once a bachelor’s degree is completed students can enter law school. The Law School Admissions Test has to be passed in order to start education.

A Juris Doctor degree is what allows students to step into the industry. Programs typically last three years and train students in all foundational areas of law. Elective courses are often taken to create a personalized degree so students can work in their desired area of law. Many students combine their degree with another master’s degree level program in a specific area of law, which makes training at least two to four years longer. Common courses taken inside a Juris Doctor degree program may include:

  • Legal Writing
  • Torts
  • Comparative Environmental Law

Upon completion of a program students are required to pass a bar exam to legally practice law. For online students this is extremely important because the American Bar Association does not accredit online schools. Some states allow students that have completed an online law program to petition to take the exam. Students have to pass the exam in the state they will practice in. It is strongly recommended that students check with their state to ensure their online education will allow them to become licensed lawyers. If a particular state does not recognize online degree programs as sufficient training, students will have to attend a traditional college.

Online education provides students with many concentrations. Students that complete their education online can find a program that matches their interests. Some concentration areas may include:

*Business Law

Both business and law are incorporated into graduate degree study. Coursework explores the main areas where both fields meet each other. Areas like contracts and mergers are studied to prepare students for careers. Law and business concepts are combined together to create a unique educational training opportunity. Bankruptcy law, taxation law, community property, and marketing management are some courses that emphasize both the business and law industries.

*Family Law

The general practice of family law will be examined in this concentration. Students learn how to handle child custody disputes, divorces, abuse cases, and more. Education typically includes general criminal law and all the necessary family law courses. Adoption law, legal rights of children, and nontraditional family law are some courses taken.

Several educational options are available to choose from when completing a law degree online. Students should research their options and their states requirements and begin training to become a law professional. Students should make sure the program they enroll in carries accreditation from an agency like the American Bar Association (http://www.abanet.org/) in order to receive the quality education they deserve.

DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERIC OUTLINE and may or may not depict precise methods, courses and/or focuses related to ANY ONE specific school(s) that may or may not be advertised on our website.

 

Choosing an attorney to represent you may be one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. The more selective you are in choosing the best family law attorney for you, the more confidence you’ll have — in the representation and in the legal proceedings. Ultimately, you want favorable results for yourself and your children. Of course, you want to ask how much you’ll be charged for lawyer services, how much for paralegal services, how and when you will be billed, and how much of a retainer fee is required. But don’t make your decision based on fees alone. Here are a few questions you should also ask before you consider hiring a particular lawyer.

Key Question #1: Has the lawyer been sanctioned for an ethics violation? 
Attorneys are held to high ethical standards regarding how they practice law and the customer service they provide to clients. Each state’s bar association regulates its members and, when necessary, disciplines attorneys with sanctions to punish for acts of professional misconduct. Arizona’s attorneys must be members in good standing with the State Bar of Arizona in order to practice law within the state.

A grievance filed against an attorney can lead to reprimand, probation, suspension, restitution, and revocation of the attorney’s license to practice law within the state. A relatively minor infraction may be the attorney’s failure to pay bar member dues timely, leading to an automatic suspension and an easy remedy. When an attorney’s conduct is egregious, as with a felony conviction, then automatic interim suspension followed by sanctions like disbarment may result. You need assurance that the character and competency of your attorney justifies your decision to hire.

Poor legal judgment causes problems for clients.
When hiring an attorney for your divorce, child custody, or parenting time matter, determine whether the lawyer has been disciplined, so ask:

— Was the attorney disciplined for mishandling a legal matter because of inexperience in the law?
— Did the attorney fail to adequately prepare the case?
— Did the attorney fail to get assistance from a more experienced attorney when they should have?
— Did the attorney fail to take reasonable steps to protect a client’s interests both during and after the representation?
— Did the attorney fail to put forth reasonable efforts to expedite the litigation, delaying a case unnecessarily?
— Did the attorney mishandle client funds?
— Did the attorney neglect an entrusted legal matter?
— Was the attorney advanced a legal fee, but failed to refund the unearned portion?
The exercise of poor legal judgment by an attorney can result in significant problems for a client.

Key Question #2: Is the lawyer’s practice focused on family law? 
The one constant in the law is change, sometimes in an obvious way and sometimes in a hundred subtle ways. The courts continue to interpret laws differently, and our legislatures continue to pass new laws and change existing ones. Rules of civil procedure, evidence, and local court rules vary from one judge to the next. When the attorney’s legal practice is focused on family law, then that attorney is in sync with emerging trends in the field. Case management is very difficult to streamline when the attorney is not completely tuned in to the controlling laws. The experienced lawyer focused exclusively on family law, who has tried many divorce cases, has worked with complex asset divisions, has handled contested custody matters, and has been successful. That attorney will guide you through your case fluidly, efficiently, and knowledgeably. A focused practice is a focused lawyer.

Choose a family law practitioner. 
You want to know whether the attorney you’re looking to retain has a genuine focus on family law, and is not merely dabbling in divorces as circumstances allow. These are the types of questions you should ask before hiring:
— Do you practice family law exclusively?
— What percentage of your law practice is devoted to family law?
— What access do you have to specialists and experts within your firm and outside your firm?
— How many years have you been practicing family law?
— Have you been litigating divorce trials for five years or more?
— Have you handled complex asset and property divisions in divorce?
— Are you well-versed in child custody matters?
— Are you recognized by the public and by your peers for your abilities and experience as a practitioner of family law?

If after your questions are answered, it is apparent that the attorney is not sufficiently experienced in family law, or lacks a genuine focus in family law practice, then keep your options open and continue interviewing other potential attorneys.

Key Question #3: Will this attorney be handling your case, beginning to end? 
At some law firms, the attorney you meet in your initial consultation is not the attorney who will be representing you. Allowing your case to be assigned to whoever has a light schedule at the firm this week is not being very selective. You are not a commodity and neither are attorneys. Make sure to ask if the attorney you’re interviewing will actually be the attorney handling your case. Will some other lawyer at the firm be assigned to your case after you’ve paid your retainer fee?

The attorney you first meet may be the firm’s presenter, skilled at promoting the law firm and bringing in new clients. But the firm’s presenter may or may not be the lawyer who will be assigned to your case. If you’re interviewing one attorney, but will be working with another, then the prudent course of action is to interview the family law attorney who will actually handle your case. At the interview, ask the question: “Will you be the attorney handling my case?” If that answer is a negative, then ask “Who will be?” and interview that lawyer before you make a hiring decision.

Meet your new lawyer, in the middle of your case.

When you work with your lawyer, you necessarily develop a rapport. You’ve talked about your case face-to-face. You’ve talked on the phone. You’ve received written correspondence. You’ve given detailed descriptions and provided supporting documents. You’ve emailed a hundred times. In all of those exchanges, your lawyer has watched your mannerisms, noted your frustrations, and observed subtleties in your gestures, voice, and tone. Your lawyer gets to know you, and understands the full context of your words.

There is probably nothing more frustrating than working with a family law attorney, developing a solid relationship of trust with good communication, and then have your case reassigned to a different attorney at the law firm. When reassigned to a junior lawyer, you may reasonably question the importance of your case to the law firm. You may feel that your divorce or child custody matter is not valuable enough to merit keeping a more experienced attorney on the case. Such concerns can only undermine your trust in the lawyer and the firm.

Choose your attorney carefully and, before you hire, take a good look at the attorney’s legal team.

You’ve taken the time to interview the family law attorney in person. You think hiring that attorney is in your best interests and will carry you from the beginning of your case to a favorable resolution. One last thing, though. Before you decide to hire, take a look at the qualifications of the entire legal team at the law firm, from partners, to associates, to paralegals. A favorable outcome in your case may depend upon it.

 

No matter where you live, a law is a key that opens the door to an exciting career of prestige and possibilities. In the past, it was common to go to law school within your country or even your state. Nowadays, however, law degrees abroad are becoming more and more common.

One reason that being a lawyer, both domestically and internationally, is an attractive option for students is the constant need for legal representation. You don’t need to obtain a law degree abroad to be privy to this demand, but an international law degree can provide you with a better appreciation of other cultures and their legal traditions. A law abroad may also give you a deeper understanding of certain law specialties, such as international law and business law.

Law school, it seems, has never really been synonymous with affordability. But, obtaining a degree in law abroad can be affordable. Not only do law degrees overseas offer fellowships, grants, and scholarships, but many of the law degree programs also offer several financial aid packages.

Additionally, law is a competitive field, and getting accepted to a law school can be difficult for some. But, when you opt to get a degree in law overseas, you broaden your opportunities, taking them from a pond to a lake. Law overseas provide you with a quality education, and a wider range of schools to chose from. They also allow you to see the world while completing your studies, an experience that can give you an advantage once school is over and the time comes to apply for jobs.

Students often wonder if they are limiting their future careers by studying law abroad, but just because you get a law overseas doesn’t mean you have to practice in the country in which you obtained the degree. Many of the international law programs are American Bar Association approved, giving you the opportunity to practice in the United States once your degree is complete. Before choosing a program, it is wise to make sure the program is accepted wherever you ultimately intend to practice.

Finally, for many employers, obtaining a law degree overseas is more impressive than obtaining one in your homeland. The reason for this perception is that pursuing a law degree abroad shows employers that you aren’t afraid of a challenge; it tells them that you are open to new ideas, new adventures, and willing to go outside your comfort zone, something you may have to do quite often as a lawyer.

Overall, studying law in an international setting makes a lot of sense for students, and is an option that more should consider.

 

Work hours, pay issues, questions, oh my! As a small business owner or manager, the requirements governing meal break laws and other compensation issues can seem trickier than traveling the Yellow Brick Road. My FAQ guide to work hours and pay issues, which are governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), will help you sort it all out:

How many hours are required for full-time and part-time employment?

Full-time or part-time employment rules are generally determined by the employer and not by Department of Labor laws.

Are there laws about compensating for breaks and meal periods?

Although the FLSA doesn’t require employers to give time off for breaks or meals, some states may have their own meal break laws. When employers do offer short breaks (up to about 20 minutes), federal law dictates that employees must be compensated. Work break laws also say that employers do not need to compensate for meal breaks (a minimum of 30 minutes).

Do I need to pay extra to employees working nights or shift work? Is it necessary to pay extra for weekend work?

No. Employers aren’t required by law to pay extra for night or shift work. Work hour laws also don’t dictate employers pay extra for weekend work. However, if the night and weekend workers are non-exempt and work more than 40 hours in a work week, Department of Labor laws say they must be paid overtime.

Are there Department of Labor laws regarding flexible schedules?

The FSLA does not govern flexible work schedules, which are typically defined as those that allow personnel to vary arrival and/or departure times. Flexible work schedules are often considered a matter between the employer and the employee.

How can I make sure I’m compliant with vacation pay rules?

Employers aren’t required to pay employees for time not worked. That includes vacations and sick leave as well as holidays. Since there is no federal vacation pay law, paid time off is a matter between the employer and the employee.

Is there a sick leave entitlement?

Although employers are not required to pay for sick leave, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) says that covered and eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain medical situations that affect the worker or a member of the employee’s immediate family.

Also, if an employer offers sick leave and the worker leaves before using all of it, FLSA sick time law says the employer is not required to pay the worker for that time.

Non-compliance can be worse than the Wicked Witch of the West.

The Wicked Witch may have had her band of flying monkeys, but the Department of Labor can make non-compliance a costly and time-consuming nightmare for your small business. Know the ins and outs of employment law, from vacation pay rules to sick leave payment, so you can make the management decisions that build a strong and profitable business.

If you’re a small business owner or manager with questions about your obligations regarding Department of Labor laws, this guide will give you answers. From guidelines about job sharing policy to last paycheck laws, here is Part II of my frequently asked questions guide to work hours and other pay issues.

Are there travel time laws I need to be aware of?

Any time spent traveling during normal working hours is considered work time, which means employees must be compensated. While travel time generally doesn’t include commuting time, it does include, for example, time spent traveling to and from a client’s office.

How do I know if I’m required to provide hazard pay?

Hazard pay is additional compensation for work involving physical hardship or for performing a hazardous duty. Physical hardship is defined as any work that causes extreme physical discomfort or distress that’s not relieved by protective devices.

The law doesn’t specifically require employers to provide hazard pay except as a part of “a federal employee’s regular rate of pay in computing employee’s overtime pay.

What is minimum wage for employees who get tips?

A “tipped” worker is anyone in an occupation that regularly receives more than $30 each month in tips. Department of Labor laws require employers to pay a minimum of $2.13 per hour in direct wages-provided that when the worker’s tips are added to the direct wage, it is at least equal to the federal minimum wage. If the employee’s wage plus tips doesn’t equal the federal minimum hourly wage, you are required to make up the difference.

Be aware that many states require higher minimum wages than the federal standard for tipped employees. So always check with your local jurisdiction to make sure you’re in compliance with federal and local laws. For a state-by-state breakdown of minimum wages for tipped employees, visit the Department of Labor’s tipped employee wage chart.

Is merit pay required?

Merit pay is any increase in pay based on criteria set by you, the employer. Often called pay-for-performance, it’s often determined by an employer review using a set of criteria the employer has already established. Merit pay reviews are typically conducted on a regular basis (for example, every 6 months or 1 year) and often include a meeting to discuss the worker’s performance.

Employers are not required to provide pay-for-performances increases, according to Department of Labor laws.

Are there Department of Labor laws dictating job share arrangements?

No. There is no flexible working hours law regarding job sharing, which involves two or more employees sharing the responsibilities of a single full-time job or two or more workers with unrelated assignments who are the same budget line. Flexible work arrangements are considered a matter between employer and employees.

Does an employee need to receive his or her final paycheck immediately?

Although federal law doesn’t dictate that a former employee needs to receive a last paycheck immediately, some states have final paycheck laws that require immediate payment. Check with your state labor department to find out if your state has different requirements than the Department of Labor.

Make sure your company is in compliance.

While there may not be a job share law, there are a number of other federal and local regulations regarding work hours and other pay issues, such as hazard pay or a final paycheck. From travel time laws to last paycheck laws, make sure you have the information you need to keep your business in compliance.

 

Anybody that’s ever looked through anything passed by a legislative body has likely seen a number of strange things included that had little or nothing to do with the main bill or law. These riders are often included to appease a small constituency and don’t always have a big or lasting impact. Sometimes these riders come in the form of money for a state or district, and sometimes they come in the form of rules and laws that are quote often, to be frank, silly. Here are some of the silly laws that have managed to make it on the books in Virginia, even if only for a short time.

Politics As Usual?
This is one that just makes you shake your head. There is a state law “prohibiting corrupt practices of bribery by any person other than candidates.” This sounds like the type of law that a corrupt politician got passed to help themselves retain their office against a better, more morally pure candidate.

No Tickle Parties
I’d like to think that this law was the result of a more conservative time in the state’s history, but I honestly can’t think of any reason to pass a law that makes it illegal to tickle women. Maybe there was a tickle bandit, but I suspect puritan hands are to blame for this law.

Hunting Season
There has been a law in Virginia making it illegal to hunt for any animal on Sunday, with the sole exception of raccoons, which may be hunted until 2 AM.

Apparently whoever passed this law didn’t feel that raccoons were really one of God’s creatures and thus not worthy of his protection on Sundays.

Clean Your Mule
This has to be an old law as I think it’s fair to say that nobody has attempted this in some time. In Culpepper it was made illegal to wash a mule on the sidewalk. I really hope this isn’t a recent law as it may be too much for my mind to handle.

Dress For the Hour
This law is clearly something of an antiquity, but it still makes you want to know the reasoning behind it. There has been a law on the books in Norfolk, Virginia that required women to wear a corset after sundown and to be in the company of a male chaperone.

Civility is Key
This law likely goes back to a time when we put more of a premium on civility towards each other. There was enacted a law in Prince William County that made it illegal to cuss about another person. Maybe this also made gossip more civil as well.

Who Gets the Tab?
I’m working under the assumption that this law was passed in response to gambling issues in relation to restaurants, though I could be way off base.

In Richmond, a law was passed making it illegal to flip a coin in a restaurant to see who pays for a coffee. I’m not sure why coffee alone was singled out in this law, nor am I aware of a history of coffee and gambling going hand in hand.

Warning! Lady Driver!
As it has never, to the best of my knowledge, been illegal for women to drive in this country, I honestly don’t know what to make of this one. In Waynesboro a law was passed making it against the law for a woman to drive a car up Main Street unless her husband was walking in front of the car waving a red flag. Did this mean that unmarried women couldn’t drive on Main Street in Waynesboro? I appreciate a female driver joke here and there within reason, but this seems to be taking the notion to excess.

Only the Tip of the Iceberg
This is just a small sampling of the silly laws that you can find not only in Virginia, but across the country. While some may have reasoning behind them, in the end they seem frivolous, even though to this day many of them remain on the books of many states, cities, and counties.