If you’ve decided to become a lawyer, the next question is usually how long it takes to become one. You surely want to know that so you can estimate how long it will take before you begin to get the benefit of your education.
The passion to practice as a lawyer and save lives should be your focus, however, so also learn the requirements to become a lawyer.
The law brings order and peace to the world, so the load on the shoulders of lawyers to decide who to prosecute is heavy. If they don’t build their cases well and an innocent man gets prosecuted, the scale of justice tilts towards injustice and evil roams the streets.
For this reason, lawyers take as long as 7 years of education in most countries before they can practice.
But does this number of years apply in all countries and all kinds of law profession? We answer this question in this post.
Here, you will see how many years it takes to become several kinds of lawyers. You will also learn about the educational requirements to become a lawyer in the UK, USA, and Australia. Keep reading to discover all these.
Who is a Lawyer?
According to the American Bar Association, a lawyer is a licensed professional who advises and represents people in legal matters. The lawyer is also an attorney, counsel, or counselor. So whenever you hear these alternative names, you still know who the person is referring to.
To be able to represent people in legal matters, lawyers apply abstract legal theories and knowledge which they have gained from a law education. Through the application of this knowledge, they solve specific individualized problems or advance the interest of their clients.
What Does a Lawyer Do?
The movies and fictional novels will often portray lawyers as those who stand for criminals or victims of unfortunate situations. This is not all that a lawyer does, however. In fact, it is just a kind of lawyer that defends criminals – the Criminal Defense Lawyer.
If like some of us, you had this notion of lawyers, then you need to know what lawyers irrespective of their scope do.
The main duties of a lawyer are to uphold the law and protect the client’s rights while upholding the law.
In performing these main duties, a lawyer will do the following:
Why Study Law?
When you consider that it takes 7 years to become a lawyer, you begin to ask yourself why you’ve decided to take this path. Even though your passion is strong enough motivation to keep pushing, you need to refresh your mind on the reasons why you’re studying law.
Most people study law for the following reasons:
1. The Opportunity to Help People
Helping people is like the foundation upon which law was built. You don’t want evil to prevail because the people unleashing it have power and their victims don’t have. Through your position as a lawyer, you can help people get what is due to them as well as take care of organizations’ legal problems. Public interest lawyers exist to uphold legal causes to promote the greater good of society and provide legal assistance to those who can’t afford a lawyer. There are also lawyers in private practice who provide pro bono services to low-income individuals of underserved populations like victims of child abuse. When you see how much good you can be to the world, you just want to become a lawyer.
2. The Reputation
Have you seen parents who don’t consider professions other than law, medicine, and engineering a profession? That’s to show you how high people hold the law profession. This repute has lasted for generations and will continue to hold in generations to come because of the level of authority a lawyer wields. Lawyers command respect and the media always project them as successful professionals.
3. Opportunity for Specialization
Specialization in an area of a profession increases your chances of becoming indispensable. The law industry is one with many segmentation and specialization. Thus, there are many sub-specialties of law that you can specialize in and grow a reputation there. Some of these specializations include green law and intellectual property law.
4. The Large Earnings
Let’s face it, lawyers around the world are one of the highest earners in the labor force. Law is simply an educational investment with good returns. However, don’t be deceived, you need to be really good at what you do to earn big. When you are a top-shot lawyer, you’ll get work in large law firms and major metropolitan areas. You will also earn very well as a lawyer if you are a specialty lawyer in specialties that are in high demand. If you’re a public sector lawyer, however, you may not earn so much.
So how much do lawyers actually earn?
How Much Does a Lawyer earn?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Lawyers in the USA earn an estimated $120,910 per year. As of 2018, there were 823,900 jobs available for lawyers in the USA. BLS estimates the job to grow by 6% from 2018 to 2028. That is to say that there will be additional 50,100 jobs available for lawyers. This growth is faster than the average job growth for other jobs.
Glassdoor gives the salary of attorneys in London, the UK as £68,171 per year and Lawyers in Melbourne, Australia as A$85,000 yearly. So you see that in almost every part of the world, Lawyers and Attorneys earn great salaries.
How Long is Law School?
Law School typically takes three (3) years to complete. But you must be wondering, why the fuss about the length of becoming a lawyer if it takes just three years to complete a law school.
The thing is before you get into a law school, you must have completed a bachelor’s degree. It doesn’t matter the kind of bachelor’s degree you have these days, but your degree should provide you with knowledge in political science, history, criminal justice, and philosophy.
Now, a bachelor’s degree will take you anywhere from three to five years to complete. Full-time programs are typically shorter, so if you want to become a lawyer fast, you should ensure to attend a full-time bachelor’s degree program.
Since you can’t become a lawyer until you have passed through law school, it takes seven (7) years to complete the required education to become a lawyer. But this could be more if you spend one or two years struggling to gain acceptance into a law school. It could also be shorter if you complete an accelerated bachelor’s program.
To reduce the financial burden of attending law school, here are law scholarships you can take advantage of.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Lawyer in the USA?
The educational requirements for becoming a lawyer in the United States is 7 years. This is broken down into an undergraduate degree of four (4) years, and a Law School degree of three (3) years.
In a more comprehensive manner, to become a lawyer in the USA, you must take this path:
Firstly, you need to get an undergraduate degree from an accredited university or college. It doesn’t matter what area of study you get your bachelor’s degree in. But endure that your bachelor’s degree covered courses in English, Public Speaking, Government, History, Economics, and Mathematics.
Secondly, you need to enter Law School. But to do this, you must pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Law school takes three years to complete and there, you’ll take courses in constitutional law, contracts, property law, civil procedure, and legal writing. It is very important that you attend an ABA-accredited law school.
Lastly, you will have to sit for the Bar Exam in your state or the state you hope to practice in. practicing for the Bar Exam will take you two to three months and getting the results takes some extra months, but in all, it usually takes less than a year. Once you’ve passed the bar exam, you’ll need to be officially admitted to Bar. This involves passing your State’s Bar Association’s character and fitness review. This will take a number of months, depending on how clean your background is.
So generally, you’ll take 7 to 8 years to become a lawyer in the USA. 8 years, if you add the additional months for practicing for the bar exams and passing your State’s Bar Association’s character and fitness review.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Lawyer in the UK?
In the UK, lawyers are divided into solicitors and barristers and there are multiple paths to becoming any of these. There is the direct entry and the non-law graduate entry.
Direct Entry Path
So, to become a Solicitor through the direct entry path, it takes 6 – 7 years. Firstly, you will need to take the LL.B. (Hons), which is the qualifying law degree. Unlike the USA that treats their law degree as a graduate degree, the law degree in the UK is an undergraduate degree (LL.B.). The LL.B. takes three (3) years to complete.
You should also check out these 25 Undergraduate Scholarships for Law Students
Secondly, you’ll need to complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC) which normally takes 2 years to complete. You can complete it in 1 year through the fast-track course, however, if you have a First Class and a Second Class degree.
Lastly, you will need to take a trainee contract with a law firm for 2 years. On completion of this contract, you’ll get admission into the Law Society of England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland.
To become a Barrister with the direct entry path, you’ll need to complete the LL.B. (Hons) – 3 years. Afterward, you’ll complete the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT) then take the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) – 1 year. You will then go for ‘Pupillage’ under a practicing barrister after the BPTC – 1 year. Thus, it takes a total of 5 years to become a Barrister in the UK.
Non-Law Graduate Entry Path
Finally, for the Non-law graduate path, you would first complete a three-year undergraduate degree. After that, you’ll complete the Graduate Diploma in Law (CPE/GDL) that takes two (2) years. After acquiring these credentials, you’ll follow the same steps as the direct entry path to either become a solicitor or a barrister. So, it will take you 10-12 years to become a solicitor and 10-11 years to become a barrister.
If you’ve decided to study law in the UK, here are the Top 21 Law Schools in UK
How Long Does it Take to Become a Lawyer in Australia?
Becoming a lawyer in Australia is similar to that of the UK but shorter. The requirements to become a lawyer in Australia are a Juris Doctor(JD) or Bachelor of Law(LLB); a practical legal training (PLT); Legal Practice Admission; and a Practicing Certificate.
Here’s how you go about these things;
LLB or JD
Firstly, you must complete an undergraduate program in law, which is the LLB program. This program takes four years to complete and it covers the “Priestley 11” which are the 11 areas of basic legal knowledge required for practice in Australia. If you already have an undergraduate degree, then the JD is for you. This takes 3 years to complete as you already know.
Secondly, you will complete a Practical Legal Training after your LLB. You have to check your state’s Legal Admissions Board for approved Practical Legal Training (PLT) that you can take. The PLT takes like 6 months to complete and you can even take it online from recommended course providers. On completion, you’ll get the Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice.
At this point, you would have taken 4 years 6 months towards becoming a lawyer in Australia. The next step is to get admission to Legal Practice. You must apply to the relevant state or territories Admissions Authority within five years of your graduation or it would be impossible to do so. Now, getting admission to Legal Practice qualifies you to get a job but not practice as a lawyer in Australia.
You must have worked for 18 to 24 months under the supervision of a practicing solicitor before you can apply to the local Law Society for a Practicing Certificate. This certificate allows you to practice in that state as a solicitor.
So in all, you would’ve taken at least 6 years of education and practice to get to this stage.
Note, however, that this path is for solicitors. If you wish to become a Barrister, you’ll have to gain entrance to the Bar Readers’ Course by taking and passing the bar exam.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Criminal Lawyer?
Again, criminal defense lawyers are lawyers that represent individuals and organizations who have been accused of a criminal offense. When the government employs you as a criminal defense lawyer, you become a public defender.
So, the educational requirement for becoming a criminal defense lawyer is a bachelor’s degree, law school (with a specialization in criminal defense), then the state bar exam.
How this works is that you earn a bachelor’s degree in any degree with good grades. You must also have good research, investigative, analytic, and communication skills. The bachelor’s degree typically takes four (4) years to complete and with your bachelor’s degree, you can apply to law schools by completing the Law School Admission Test.
The law school takes three (3) years, of which while in it, you will specialize in criminal defense law education, Graduating from a law school grants you a Juris Doctor (J.D) degree.
Combining all these, you have seven (7) years to become a criminal defense lawyer. But to practice in any state in the USA, however, you must acquire a license.
It is very important that you understand LLM vs. JD | Striking Differences between Master of Law and Juris Doctor
How Long Does it Take to Become a Corporate Lawyer?
Corporate lawyers are those lawyers that use their knowledge of business and finance law to understand, defend, and uphold business matters related to businesses and corporate affairs. So, a corporate lawyer works on behalf of a business entity or government to provide legal counsel and services.
For the educational requirement to become a corporate lawyer, you need at least seven years of education like the criminal defense lawyer. Firstly, you’ll complete a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject from accredited colleges or universities. Such a relevant undergraduate degree includes business, economics, and finance degrees.
After the undergraduate education, you will submit your academic transcript and take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to gain admission into law school for a Juris Doctor degree. The J.D for corporate lawyers is either the basic J.D or the dual-degree program in law and business that will grant you a J.D. and an MBA.
Corporate lawyers who would love to practice globally may have to pursue a Master of Law (LL.M.) degree. Of course, you know that acquiring this degree will take an additional two years. Meanwhile, an LL.M. is essential as it offers specialization in Corporate Law.
So, generally, 4-year undergraduate, 3-year law school, and 2-years master’s degree if you choose to go global). Thus, it will take between 7 to 9 years to become a corporate lawyer.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Patent Lawyer?
When you’ve made a groundbreaking invention and you need to secure your formula or product, a patent lawyer is who you need. The patent lawyer is a lawyer with knowledge in the field of intellectual property who works with inventors during the patent period to ensure that they have legal protection.
The educational requirement for patent lawyers includes acquiring a bachelor’s degree, just like all other specializations in law. But for the patent lawyer, you would need a bachelor’s degree in a field of science like chemistry or a technical degree like engineering.
After a bachelor’s degree, you need a J.D degree from an accredited law school, which takes 3 years to complete.
Part of the job duties of the patent lawyer is to draft, file and prosecute patent applications on their inventors’ behalf before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). So, if you would like to represent your inventor in front of the USPTO, you would need to sit for and pass the USPTO licensing exam. Another name for this ‘Patent Bar.’
So, generally, it will take 7 to 8 years to become a patent lawyer, depending on how long your graduate degree program takes.
Don’t get stuck looking for a law school in North Carolina (NC). See the Top 7 Law Schools in North Carolina
How Long Does it Take to Become a Family Lawyer?
When you have family and marital issues including divorce, custody, adoption, child abuse, child support, and domestic abuse, the family lawyer is who you go to. Family lawyers have the necessary education and experience to take care of such matters.
So what education do they need? The family lawyer, like every other kind of lawyer in the USA, requires an undergraduate degree in any academic area then a law school. The undergraduate degree will typically take 4 years to complete and the law school will take 3 years to complete.
Your first year in law school for your J.D degree will take you in courses like criminal law, property rights, and constitutional law as it relates to family law issues. In your second and third year at law school, you will then take advanced-level courses in family law topics like divorce, marriage, and adoption. You will also participate in mock court proceedings to gain courtroom experience.
So generally, it takes 7 years to become a family lawyer – 4 years undergraduate, and 3 years of law school.
How Long Does it Take to Become an Immigration Lawyer?
Because of the economic imbalance in this world, you’ll find people from underdeveloped countries migrating to developed countries illegally. A popular case is the migration flux of Africans from Libya to Italy. These developed countries are sometimes not tolerant of immigrants and may tamper on the rights of the immigrants. To help restore the individual rights of the immigrants, you have an immigration lawyer.
The immigration lawyer is a lawyer or attorney that specializes in legal issues involving refugees, illegal citizens, and newcomers.
So, to become an immigration lawyer in the USA, you’ll follow the normal path to becoming a lawyer in the USA. That is, 4 years undergraduate degree, and 3 years J.D. Once in law school, you can then take semester-long immigration law clinic or proceed to take a graduate degree program in Immigration law. The graduate program takes an additional 2 years.
In general, it takes 7 to 9 years to become an immigration lawyer. 9 years if you’re going to take the LL.M. in Law and Government with an immigration track.
If Virginia is your top location in the USA to become a lawyer, then you should see the 10 Best Law Schools in Virginia
How Long Does it Take to Become a Real Estate Lawyer?
When you go into real estate, you discover that you definitely need a lawyer to support your claims and facilitate your transactions. The lawyer you need is a real estate lawyer. these are lawyers who choose to specialize in real estate law issues. So their roles include drafting contracts of sale, reviewing leases and mortgage documents or discussing provisions in a real estate sale contract.
The educational requirement to do this is the same for every other type of lawyer. This involves a typical 4-year undergraduate degree from an accredited college and a 3-year J.D. degree from an accredited law school. To get into law school, however, you must sit for and pass the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).
Your first year in law school will equip you with the fundamentals of the profession. Moving on, ensure to complete elective classes on real estate and clinical experience. You should also consider concentrating in real estate, but not all law schools will permit this. For this reason, it is important that you apply to law schools that offer a concentration in real estate law.
After your J.D, you can also consider a Masters of Law (LL.M.) in Real Estate as well as certificates.
So generally, it would take you 7 years to become a real estate lawyer – 4 years for a bachelor’s degree and 3 years for J.D.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Prosecutor Lawyer?
The prosecuting attorney or lawyer is the lawyer that represents the different levels of government in court. Hence, they stand for the local, state or federal government in court. Their job duties involve trying cases, interviewing witnesses or victims, evaluating police reports, and performing legal research to plan the prosecution of each case.
The requirements to become a prosecuting lawyer in the USA is the same for most types of layers in the USA. So, the total time it’ll take you to become a prosecuting lawyer is 7 years. 5 years of undergraduate education and 3 years of law school.
While the undergraduate degree is not specific to any academic area, it should offer courses that’ll improve your reading, writing, and critical-thinking skills.
Upon graduating from college, you should apply for law school and pass the LSAT. At law school, you’ll gain core knowledge of law such as contracts, torts, and civil procedure. Meanwhile, in your final half of law school, you’ll be able to take topics towards your specialization. You may want to consider studying criminal law to prepare you for a career as a prosecuting lawyer.
After graduating from law school with a J.D, you then have to sit for and pass the Bar Exam. This would provide you the backing to practice as a prosecuting lawyer in your state.
So in all, it takes 7 years to become a prosecuting lawyer. 4 years for a bachelor’s degree, and 3 years for a J.D.
We understand that law school can be expensive, so we have compiled the 13 Cheapest Law Schools in California
What is the average GPA for law schools?
For law colleges, the overall GPA would never go below 2.95 to 3.0. There are more learners with high GPAs in general than high LSAT ratings.
This is because, with a less extreme drop off in GPAs, there are more students to go around than you see in LSATs as you go down the rankings.
No top 100 school has a median GPA of less than 3.0 in this scenario, and only two schools have 25th percentile GPAs of less than 3.0.0. You will want to measure and find the overall GPA for your Law School GPA.
What is the average LSAT score?
The median LSAT score is around 150, so your score could be over 160 if you are focused on getting into one of the best law schools.
In each test, there are about 101 questions, and every question correctly answered accounts for one point of your raw score.
Using a formula built for that particular LSAT, this raw score (0–101) is translated into a score varying from 120 to 180. A raw score of 99 out of 101, for example, will generally translate into 180.
What subjects do you need to become a lawyer?
It’s no cakewalk to become a lawyer. It takes a lot of time, commitment, and smart decisions to start a law career.
Begin by choosing the correct groups. Although you don’t need any special subjects to go to law school, those subjects can help your chances. It is no straightforward job to become a lawyer, but a comprehensive degree would guarantee a sweet profession.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you need to pass courses in English, public speaking, government, history, economics, and mathematics, to become a lawyer.
It takes 7 years to become a lawyer, but that is mostly in the USA. In the UK, it will take you 6 to 7 years to become a Solicitor and 5 years to become a barrister if you follow the direct-entry path. If you follow the non-law graduate path, however, it’ll take you 10 to 12 years to become a solicitor, and 10-11 years to become a barrister.
In the USA, law school takes 3 years for full-time education and 4 years for part-time education. But the part-time path is not common. In the UK, however, the law degree is an undergraduate degree that takes 4 years to complete.
To become a lawyer in the USA, you need any kind of undergraduate degree and a Juris Doctor (J.D). In the UK, however, you’ll need a Bachelor of Law (LL.B.) Hons. to become a lawyer. You can proceed to get a master’s degree, however, if you wish to practice law globally or specialize in a type of law.
To become a lawyer your undergraduate degree should have covered subjects in English, Public Speaking, Government, History, Economics, and Mathematics.
At law school, lawyers study courses that are fundamental to their law practice. These topics include constitutional law, tort, contracts, property law, civil procedure, and legal writing. In your third year of law school, you’ll take courses that will address your specialization. For example, a criminal defense lawyer would take courses in criminal defense law.
To become a lawyer in the USA, you need an undergraduate degree in any area of study. But based on your area of specialization, a specific kind of bachelor’s degree may come helpful. For example, a corporate lawyer will benefit from a bachelor’s degree in business or economics. In the UK, on the other hand, the undergraduate degree you need is the Bachelor of Law (LL.B.) degree.
How long it takes to become a lawyer largely depends on the country you hope to practice law and the kind of lawyer you wish to become. In the USA, it takes seven years to become a lawyer. This is broken into 4 years of an undergraduate degree and 3 years Juris Doctor from an accredited law school.
In the UK, however, it is more complex. The number of years it will take you to become a lawyer depends on the path you’re taking – whether a direct entry or a non-law graduate path. Becoming a lawyer in the UK will also depend on whether you choose to become a solicitor or a barrister.
Finally, based on law specialization, some kinds of law will require you to get a master’s degree in Law, LL.M. as most law schools won’t offer you a special education to becoming that kind of lawyer.
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