If you’ve decided to pursue a career as a lawyer, you should be interested in the question, how long does it take to become a lawyer? You definitely want to know so that you can estimate how long it will take to reap your education benefits.
While your desire to practice law and help lives should be your primary emphasis, it doesn’t hurt to know how long it will take to become a lawyer.
This post will provide you with a comprehensive rundown of what it takes to be a lawyer. We will also look at the requirements of being a lawyer in various countries.
Continue reading to find out more.
Who Is a Lawyer?
A lawyer is a certified practitioner who advises and represents people in legal problems. According to the American Bar Association, a lawyer is sometimes referred to as an attorney, counsel, or counselor.
Lawyers use abstract legal theories and knowledge earned from a law degree to represent people in legal problems. They use this knowledge to solve unique personalized problems or to further the interests of their customers.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Lawyer in the US?
In the United States, the educational requirement for becoming a lawyer is seven years.
This is divided into a four-year undergraduate degree and a three-year law school degree.
To put it another way, if you want to be a lawyer in the United States, you must follow the following steps:
To begin, you must have a bachelor’s degree from an approved university or college. It makes no difference what field of study you pursue in your bachelor’s degree.
However, keep in mind that your bachelor’s degree must include English, Public Speaking, Government, History, Economics, and Mathematics classes.
Secondly, you must enroll in law school. However, you must first pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Law school lasts three years and includes classes on constitutional law, contracts, property law, civil process, and legal writing. It is critical that you attend a law school that is ABA-accredited.
Finally, you must take the Bar Exam in your state or the state in which you intend to practice. It takes two to three months to prepare for the Bar Exam and another few months to acquire the results, but it normally takes less than a year.
After passing the bar test, you must be officially admitted to the Bar. This entails passing the character and fitness examination administered by your state’s bar association. Depending on how clean your history is, this could take several months.
In general, it will take 7 to 8 years to become a lawyer in the United States. 8 years if you include the time spent studying for the bar tests and passing your state’s bar association’s character and fitness evaluation.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Lawyer in the UK?
In the United Kingdom, attorneys are classified as solicitors or barristers, and there are numerous paths to becoming one of these.
There are two entry options: There is the direct entry and non-law graduate entry.
So, the direct entry road to becoming a Solicitor takes 6 To 7 years. To begin, you must complete the LL.B. (Hons), which is the qualifying law degree.
Unlike in the United States, where the law degree is considered a graduate degree, the law degree in the United Kingdom is considered an undergraduate degree (LL.B.). The LL.B. program lasts three (3) years.
Secondly, you must complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC), which typically takes two years. If you have a First Class and a Second-Class degree, you can accomplish it in one year if you take the fast-track course.
Finally, you must sign a two-year trainee contract with a law firm. You will be admitted to the Law Society of England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland upon completion of this contract.
In conclusion, to become a Barrister via the direct entrance route, you must first complete the LL.B. (Hons) — a three-year program. After that, you’ll take the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT) and then the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) for one year. Following the BPTC, you will complete a year of ‘Pupillage’ under the supervision of a professional barrister.
In total, becoming a lawyer in the United Kingdom takes a total of 5 years.
Non-Law Graduate Entry Path
In order to take this path, you must first earn a three-year undergraduate degree. After that, you’ll take two (2) years to complete the Graduate Diploma in Law (CPE/GDL).
After acquiring these credentials, you will follow the identical stages as the direct entrance path to become an attorney or a barrister. So, becoming a solicitor will take you 10-12 years, and becoming a barrister will take you 10-11 years.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Lawyer in Australia?
The path to becoming a lawyer in Australia is similar to that of the United Kingdom; however, it is shorter. To become a lawyer in Australia, you must have a Juris Doctor (JD) or a Bachelor of Law (LLB), as well as practical legal training (PLT), Legal Practice Admission, and a Practicing Certificate.
To begin, you must complete an undergraduate legal program, known as the LLB program. This four-year program covers the “Priestley 11,” which are the 11 areas of basic legal knowledge required for practice in Australia. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, the JD is for you. As you are aware, this takes three years to complete.
Second, following your LLB, you will complete Practical Legal Training. You must check with your state’s Legal Admissions Board to see whether there is any approved Practical Legal Training (PLT) that you can take.
The PLT takes about 6 months to complete and can potentially be taken online through recommended course providers. After completing the program, you will be awarded the Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice.
You would have taken 4 years and 6 months to become a lawyer in Australia at this point. The next stage is to get admission to the Bar.
You must apply to the applicable state or territory Admissions Authority within five years of graduating, or it will be impossible. Obtaining admission to Legal Practice now qualifies you for a job but does not allow you to practice as a lawyer in Australia.
Before applying to the local Law Society for a Practicing Certificate, you must have worked for 18 to 24 months under the supervision of a practicing solicitor. This qualification allows you to practice as a solicitor in that state.
So, in total, you’d need at least 6 years of schooling and practice to become a lawyer in Australia.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Criminal Lawyer?
Criminal defense lawyers are attorneys who represent persons and organizations charged with criminal offenses.
If the government hires you as a criminal defense attorney, you are referred to as a public defender.
As a result, the educational requirements for becoming a criminal defense lawyer are a bachelor’s degree, law school (with a criminal defense specialty), and the state bar exam.
Thus, you start by earning a bachelor’s degree in any field with good grades. You must also be skilled in research, investigation, analysis, and communication.
The bachelor’s degree normally takes four (4) years to complete, and with that degree, you can apply to law schools by taking the Law School Admission Test.
The law school program lasts three (3) years, during which you will specialize in criminal defense legal education. A Juris Doctor (J.D) degree is awarded upon graduation from law school.
In total, you have seven (7) years to become a criminal defense lawyer.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Corporate Lawyer?
Corporate lawyers are attorneys who utilize their understanding of business and finance law to analyze, defend, and uphold commercial and corporate issues.
To become a corporate lawyer, you must have at least seven years of schooling, much like a criminal defense lawyer. First, you’ll earn a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field from an approved college or university. Undergraduate degrees in business, economics, and finance are most preferred.
After completing your undergraduate studies, you will submit your academic transcript and take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to get admitted to law school for a Juris Doctor degree.
The JD for corporate lawyers can be either the standard JD or a dual-degree program in law and business that will offer you both a JD and an MBA.
Corporate lawyers who want to practice on a worldwide scale may need to acquire a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree.
So, in general, four years of undergraduate study, three years of law school, and two years of master’s study if you want to practice as an international corporate lawyer.
In total, you are looking at 7 to 9 years to become a corporate lawyer.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Family Lawyer?
When it comes to family and marriage matters such as divorce, custody, adoption, child abuse, child support, and domestic abuse, you turn to a family lawyer.
Family lawyers have the required training and experience to handle such cases.
So, what kind of education do they require? Like any other type of lawyer in the United States, a family lawyer must first complete an undergraduate degree in any academic field before enrolling in law school.
The undergraduate degree normally takes four years to complete, while law school takes three years.
Your first year of law school will include courses in criminal law, property rights, and constitutional law as it relates to family law issues.
After this, you will study advanced-level courses in family law areas such as divorce, marriage, and adoption throughout your second and third years of law school.
In general, it takes 7 years to become a family lawyer — four years of undergraduate study and three years of law school.
How Long Is Law School?
Typically, law school takes three (3) years to finish.
In order to be admitted to law school, you must first obtain a bachelor’s degree. It makes little difference what type of bachelor’s degree you have these days, but it should offer you an understanding of political science, history, criminal justice, and philosophy.
A bachelor’s degree now takes between three and five years to finish.
How To Become a Lawyer?
It takes several years of planning and dedication to become a lawyer. If you are considering a career as a lawyer, you should start by examining their job requirements and determining whether they match your talents and interests.
The following is a list of the main steps in becoming a lawyer:
1. Complete an Undergraduate Degree
To be considered for admission, law schools need applicants to obtain a bachelor’s degree. While a lawyer’s undergraduate degree can be in any topic, law students frequently major in Political Science, Criminal Justice, English, or Sociology.
Various law schools may also need you to take specific courses before applying. To have the strongest application for law school, you should work hard to achieve a high GPA and participate in extracurricular activities.
3. Sit for the LSAT
The Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) is a required component of applying to law schools. The LSAT is a standardized test that law schools use to predict how successful a candidate will be in their program.
Although your LSAT results are not the only factor in your application, it is critical to start studying and preparing for your test well in advance. High LSAT scores can assist law schools in identifying outstanding candidates.
3. Complete Law School
To become a lawyer in most states, you must first complete an accredited legal program. Full-time law students can expect to complete their curriculum in three years.
Some people attend law school part-time, although this option will lengthen the time it takes you to start practicing law.
4. Pass the Bar Exam
Following graduation from law school, you must pass the bar exam and be admitted to your state’s Bar. The bar test assesses if you have all of the necessary knowledge and skills to practice law.
This normally entails months of preparation for the test, followed by a character examination and a thorough background check.
5. Apply for Jobs
After passing the bar exam and becoming certified to practice law, you should concentrate your efforts on seeking jobs at legal firms or offices. Lawyers can work for the government, private firms, non-profit organizations, and various other organizations.
Law School Requirements
Law school in the United States is substantially different from law school in many other nations.
Students in several nations begin their legal studies directly after graduating from high school or secondary school.
Most institutions in other nations admit students to their law faculties with merely a high school diploma or the equivalent.
On the other hand, the law is a professional academic field in the United States, equivalent to a graduate degree in other parts of the world.
In the United States, law schools are part of public or private colleges that provide Juris Doctor (J.D.) degrees. Full-time students normally complete the JD program in three years, while part-time students complete the degree in four years.
The first year of law school is widely regarded as the most difficult due to core classes, exams, and the Socrates method.
As a first-year (1L) law student in the United States, you will certainly take classes in legal writing, contracts, torts, criminal law, and constitutional law, among others.
As a second-year student (2L), you are likely to prioritize extracurricular activities like Law Review, Moot Court, and other activities that provide a lot of experience. Because most 2L students must begin looking for legal internships between their second and third years, it is critical that they gain as much practical experience as possible during their second year. Following graduation, many of these internships will lead to full-time work possibilities.
As a third-year (3L), you will most likely take electives in international law, immigration law, antitrust law, or intellectual property law. Third-year students typically spend the majority of their time looking for work and studying for the bar test.
The bar exam is a test that determines whether or not a candidate is qualified to practice law in their jurisdiction. If you choose to practice law in another nation or state, you may need to take a second bar exam to become a dual-qualified lawyer.
Is Law School Worth It
When you realize that it takes 7 years to become a lawyer, you begin to wonder why you chose this road.
Even if your passion is great enough to keep you going, you should remind yourself of the reasons you’re studying law.
The majority of people study law for the following reasons:
1. The Possibility of Assisting Others
Helping others is the cornerstone upon which the law was created. You don’t want evil to triumph since those who unleash it have power while their victims don’t.
As a lawyer, you can assist people in obtaining what is rightfully theirs and handle the legal issues of corporations. Public interest lawyers exist to promote the greater benefit of society by upholding legal causes and providing legal aid to people who cannot afford a lawyer.
Private practice lawyers also provide pro bono services to low-income individuals from marginalized populations, such as child abuse victims. When you realize how much good you can do for the world, you will want to be a lawyer.
2. The Reputation
Have you ever met parents who don’t believe professions other than law, medicine, and engineering to be prestigious?
This demonstrates how highly people regard the legal profession.
Because of the level of influence a lawyer carries, this occupation has survived for decades and will continue to do so in future generations.
Lawyers command a high level of respect, and the media consistently portrays them as successful professionals.
3. Possibility of Specialization
Specialization in a certain field of work boosts your chances of being indispensable.
The legal industry is highly segmented and specialized. As a result, there are numerous sub-specialties of law in which you might concentrate and build a reputation.
4. It is Lucrative
Let’s face it: lawyers are among the highest-paid professionals on the planet.
However, don’t be fooled; in order to earn a lot of money, you must be extremely skilled at what you do. A top-tier lawyer will find work in large law firms and major urban locations. You will also earn a lot of money as a lawyer if you specialize in a field that is in high demand.
What Can You Do with A Law Degree?
Established lawyers wishing to transfer into careers outside the law have many options.
A legal degree trains you to think critically, solve problems, conduct research, communicate effectively, work in groups, and distill enormous amounts of complex information into short (most of the time) writing.
While these skills are useful in practically any profession, here are some careers that place a high value on law grads.
Recently, big accounting companies are increasingly attempting to lure top-tier lawyers for their expanding legal services divisions.
Transferring to an accounting firm provides the extra benefit of broadening your skillset, as most organizations will demand (and pay for) you to get the Chartered Accountants qualification.
Because of their attention to detail, inherent skepticism, writing abilities, and knowledge of complicated political and legal systems, many attorneys make good journalists.
Because of their expertise in the legal sector and contacts, many lawyers end up working in legal recruitment.
A political awareness system is all skills taught in law school that come in handy in Parliament and politics. Many politicians all over the globe have transitioned from law to politics
5. Management consulting
Top management consulting organizations such as Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Company, and Bain & Company frequently encourage law graduates to apply since a law degree gives them valuable critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Experienced lawyers are also employed for their communication skills with wealthy, professional clientele.
6. Judge’s associate
While not completely outside the law, judge’s associate roles are well paid and allow you to refine your legal research abilities in a capacity other than that of a lawyer.
7. Human resources
For many lawyers, a shift into human resources (HR) is logical because it involves applying employment regulations and reducing risks connected to employees’ health and safety.
8. Wealth management/investment banking
Legal knowledge is useful for wealth managers who want to use banking restrictions and loopholes to benefit their investors. Lawyers who have worked in large businesses also tend to understand how the corporate world operates and how to manage and bill time properly.
How Much Does a Lawyer Make an Hour?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor, the yearly average wage for an attorney in May 2016 was $118,160.
This means that half of the attorneys earned more than $118,160, and half earned less. This translates to an hourly salary of $56.81.
The length of time it takes to become a lawyer is largely determined by the country you intend to practice law and the type of lawyer you wish to become.
In the United States, becoming a lawyer takes seven years. This is divided into four years of undergraduate study and three years of Juris Doctor study at an authorized law school.
Finally, depending on the type of law, some will demand you to obtain a master’s degree in law, LL.M., as most law schools will not provide you with special education to become that type of lawyer.
We hope this post on how long does it take to become a lawyer provides all the needed information you need about the legal profession.