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What to Learn from Virtual Law School

Sarah Belle Dixon-Morgan

What to Learn from Virtual Law School
Evgeniia Siiankovskaia via Getty Images

When the pandemic first hit, and even as it continues two years later, many law students fear that virtual learning will inhibit their career prospects and skill building. Concerns include it will hinder networking opportunities, conversations with professors, opportunities to ask questions in class, among many other issues. While all of these concerns are absolutely valid, even when law school went completely virtual, law students were learning skills that are integral to the practice of law. As is true of everything else, there are positives and negatives to remote learning. But even when we had to attend class from our bedrooms, we were learning things that we will carry into our practice and use every day in the legal profession. Here’s a list of five things to pay attention to and learn while attending law school classes and events remotely.

Learn How to Work and Network Virtually

Zoom existed before the pandemic! People have been video-chatting and working remotely before the world shut down. While it is certainly more common now, legal professionals consistently worked with people thousands of miles away. International law firms and businesses worked with people they may never meet, relying on video chats and emails to communicate. So the communication skills we have learned while attending law school remotely have built a foundation for a successful legal practice in a global profession.

More than that, many courts around the country continue to use video chatting as a means of appearing in court. Though not without its flaws, it has made court more accessible for citizens and lawyers alike. Our experience with video-chatting programs has prepared us for the potential practice of law via the internet.

Not everyone goes to law school in the city where they want to eventually practice law. Many do, but many don’t. If you want to work in or move to a city where you don’t have a lot of professional connections, it might be helpful to network with people you’ve never met. After all, building a network is key to career success!

In come those skills you learned while you had to network with alumni, attorneys, and other students virtually. We all attended those Zoom happy hours and awkwardly sat on the call for an hour trying not to talk over someone else and trying to come across as more than just a face on a screen. Sure, it might not be as great as grabbing coffee with someone and chatting in person. But it is valuable to learn how to form connections with legal professionals you have never met.            

Messaging people on LinkedIn who have connections to your dream job or talking on the phone with alumni in your career field can help you get a clearer picture of expectations and realities of the legal profession. Forming connections over Zoom has helped us gain networking skills that transcend state borders.

Learn to Communicate Effectively and Efficiently Through Emails

Sending an email is arguably an art form. You have to be concise, articulate, and timely. This skill comes with time, and it can be difficult to hone if you don’t have to send emails regularly. But as law schools shut down and switched to remote learning, email quickly became the primary form of communication between students and professors. Questions you would typically have asked after class might now be sent via email. How can you write your question so that it makes sense? How can you make sure you are getting your point across without writing a seven-page email? What can you put in the subject line to make sure the recipient actually reads the email?

Email communication is increasingly more common in the legal profession for practicing attorneys, businesses, judges, and courts. It is imperative to know how to send a well-written email. Virtual and hybrid learning has taught us to craft better emails and make sure our message is clear.

Learn Time Management and Self-Motivation

No matter what job you pursue in the legal profession, juggling multiple projects and working without a direct supervisor will likely play a significant role in your daily tasks. There was no better crash course in time management and self-motivation than virtual learning during the pandemic. No one was there to wake you up each day for class. You were no longer in classrooms where students could remind you about the upcoming assignment in Property or brief due for Legal Writing. Your planner and your organizational skills were put to the test. Professors could no longer look over your shoulder for assignments. Everything was up to you.

Whether you want to own your own legal practice, work in government, or work for a big firm, employers want to see that you can manage your time, juggle multiple assignments, and work without direct supervision. This saves managers time and helps them see you as a hard worker and valuable member of the team.

So, when you were creating a planning system that worked for you, creating a workspace in your tiny one-bedroom apartment, or creating a priority list for your assignments while law school was remote, you were building foundational skills for legal practice.

Host Larger Events and Make a Bigger Impact

Virtual platforms may take longer to figure out than meeting in conference rooms in person, but they allow more people to attend from cities all over the world. Allowing people to attend remotely eliminates travel costs and brings people together wherever they are—this draws bigger crowds, engages more people, and spreads the message of the event more widely!

It also allows events, such as law review symposia, to invite prominent speakers in the topic of interest. Sometimes it can work better for speakers to be on a Zoom call rather than to squeeze in more travel in their already busy schedules.

This diverse learning tool can be used in our professional lives as well, and knowing how to use the platforms allows us as legal professionals to make a bigger impact on our communities.

Master Technology That Legal Professionals Use Every Day

As the legal profession (and many other professions) quickly had to learn when the pandemic first hit, technology is here to stay. The internet, virtual conferencing, and computer software have changed the course of the profession. They have helped the profession globalize, connect, and advocate in more spaces.


We are learning the skills that are critical to the future of the legal profession. We attend law school at a great time when research can be done in books and on the internet, when conversations can happen in person and virtually, and when learning can be done in our classrooms and in our homes. While law school has certainly looked different over the past two years and even now, our education hasn’t suffered—it is thriving. We are learning what we need to know to succeed in an evolving profession.

So, the next time you have to watch a lecture remotely, think about the skills you are learning that will carry you into your role as a young attorney. Maybe we’re lucky and privileged to learn this way and to learn these skills that will transform the legal profession. Maybe every day, we are making history.