How Long Does It Take to Become a Lawyer? Working as an attorney is one of the most prestigious occupations in all parts of the world. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that pursuing a law degree requires a lot of time and effort. But how long does it take to become a lawyer?

How Long Does It Take to Become a Lawyer?
How Long Does It Take to Become a Lawyer?

In the United States, educational requirements for a prospective attorney take at least seven years to complete, broken down into an undergraduate degree of four years and a graduate law school degree of three years.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Lawyer?

Still, things aren’t that simple, as there are additional exams to take and certifications to obtain along the way. If you are thinking about a career in law, note that there is no such thing as the fastest way to become an attorney. There are no tricks or hacks – everything has to be done right. Here’s an overview of all the steps you need to take on your path to a successful career in law, with details on how long they typically last.

Earn Your Undergraduate Degree

Time to Completion: Typically Four Years

Law schools do not require students to have majored in any particular field of study to apply, according to the American Bar Association, or ABA. The most important consideration is choosing a field that will challenge you to develop your skills in critical thinking, logic, and analytical reasoning. You may wish to consider majoring in political science or U.S. history to help you better understand the coursework.

Because the field of law includes many different types of lawyers, you may wish to choose a major that complements your interests and desired specialization. For example, you could major in human resources and minor in business if you’re interested in becoming an employment or labor attorney.

Law students are graded on the quality of written assessments routinely, and as a lawyer, you might have to do a considerable amount of expository writing, depending on the job. Taking writing courses or minoring in English while pursuing your undergraduate degree can help prepare you for the writing tasks that lawyers are called on to do.

Take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).

Time to Completion: Seven Months to a Year

You must take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to enroll in a law school. The LSAT is offered multiple times throughout the year. The LSAT covers reading comprehension, logical thinking, and verbal reasoning proficiency. To attend a reputable law school, you must score highly on this test. When should you take your LSAT? I have found that the best time to take your LSAT is during your junior year of college.

This allows you to take it again if you want to try to improve your score before applying to law schools. Many people that I went to law school with took it during their junior year of college. You need to prepare for the LSAT before taking it. The test is considered difficult by many. You can either self-study or get tutoring to prepare for the LSAT.

If you are well organized and committed, self-study may be the best option for you. But many people find a tutor. A tutor may be available at your college. You can also find LSAT tutors online through various organizations. There are official LSAT prep resources on the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) website. For me, I found that taking the LSAT preparation class from a reputable company was what worked best.

The time it takes to complete the LSAT varies. Some people take it after just a month or two of studying. Others study longer and wait to take it until they feel sure about the likelihood of scoring high. Remember that it is possible to retake the LSAT if you do not receive a satisfactory score.

Enrol in Law School and Graduate

Time of Completion: Usually Three Years

If you can maximize both your undergraduate GPA and LSAT score, you should be able to get into law school. It typically takes three years of law school to obtain your law degree, known as a Juris Doctorate (JD). The law school curriculum generally covers some core areas of law for the first year and a half, such as criminal law, civil procedure, property law, and contracts.

During this time, law students can also expect to learn the basics of legal writing and research. After the midpoint of the three-year law school journey, law students can then choose to take more specialized courses, such as bankruptcy, tax law, or environmental law. Many law students will seek to earn placement in their school’s law review or other legal journals, to develop and demonstrate their writing and research skills.

Students can also apply for externships and legal clinics that will allow them to observe real-world legal activities. Getting high grades in law school, as well as obtaining reputable positions such as law review membership, will generally be an advantage in gaining legal empowerment after graduation. It is also important to seek a well-rounded education that exposes the student to the realities of practicing law.

Many facets of the profession, such as working at law firms, will be vastly different from your law school experience. Accordingly, take advantage of any experiential opportunities that interest you while you are still in school.

Pass the Bar Exam

Time of Completion: Several Months

After graduating from law school, students will need to pass the bar exam. Usually, you’ll want to spend another 8–10 weeks studying for the exam, as it’s notoriously difficult. Many students also decide to enroll in extra classes after graduating from law school to help them prepare for the bar exam. The bar exam is a 2-day affair, and the content differs from state to state in the US.

The test has 200 questions that revolve around the foundations of the law. There’s also an essay portion of the exam, and students might also need to pass a character assessment to prove they are fit to practice law.

Apply for Jobs

As soon as you’ve met all the requirements in terms of education and certification, you’ll be ready to enter the legal job market. Attorneys can work with the government, nonprofits, private practices, or other types of organizations, so there’s a wide variety of job opportunities for law practitioners to advance their careers. Newly graduated lawyers usually start their careers as associates, working closely with experienced lawyers.

After a few years in a law firm, successful attorneys may be offered the opportunity to become partners, while others may lean towards opening their own office. Proving that a law degree can open many doors, some attorneys shift into public positions or become judges.

Finally, it is also important to mention that after completing your JD degree, you can keep pursuing your educational path at the postgraduate level. If you are interested in research and academic scholarship, a master of Law and a Doctor of Philosophy are two obvious choices. Note that most LLM programs take up to two years, while the process of becoming a Doctor of Philosophy in Law lasts from four to eight years.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you Become a Lawyer Online?

Yes, you can become an attorney online with a distance JD program. And how long does it take to become a lawyer if you do all of your coursework and exams remotely? No matter if you attend an ABA-accredited law school online or at a brick-and-mortar university, a graduate program in law should take you three years to complete on a full-time schedule.

  • What Field of Law is Most in Demand?

According to a recent report during the COVID-19 pandemic, the areas of law with the highest client demand have been family law, consumer law, civil rights, insurance, estate planning, personal injury, bankruptcy law, employment law, and business law.


As mentioned right at the beginning, getting a law degree is an admirable achievement and proof of having a hard-working mentality. It is tiring yet rewarding, and it’s quite long yet worth it in the end.


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