How Long does It Take to Become a Lawyer [Ultimate Guide]


“How long does it take to become a lawyer” is a hype question from a couple of years among law lovers. This is because a lawyer is not only a respectable profession. Also, essential for a country to establish peace in both civil and criminal cases. No one can ever get out of jail being accused of any cases without the help of a lawyer.

Moreover, lawyers are known as the 1st class citizen in most countries and can enjoy every right even after retirement. So, have some time to be here and know the entire guideline to fulfill your goal.

How Long does It Take to Become a Lawyer

You will need a total of seven years to be an attorney. Therefore, four years for completing undergrad level and three years for law school. But before applying to law school, many even choose to do a job in the legal arena.

The main purpose behind this is to strengthen the application for any further procedure. Moreover, they will even have experience working as a legal secretary, which will add benefits to them. One of the most significant advantages is they can become a lawyer at the earliest possible time.

Law School Overview

Law school allows students to know and practice within the legal systems. Moreover, the skills to speak and write, anticipate penalties, creativity to solve analytical problems are also developed. Therefore, this degree is quite more practical than the undergraduate level.

However, the teaching method and the evaluation are also different than the undergrad level.

How Many Years Is Law School?

Generally, the timespan of law school is three years. Now you might be wondering why to go through different steps to becoming a lawyer when it takes only three years to adjourn schooling for lawyers.

So, the reason is you need to finish a bachelor’s degree before going to law school. As long as your degree delivers you with the information of criminal justice, political science, philosophy, and history, it will not matter with the type of Bachelor’s degree you are having.

Furthermore, you will not need more than 3 to 5 years to finish your Bachelor’s degree. Honestly, full-time programs need a short time to complete. Therefore, if you are looking for the fastest way to become an attorney, you can do a full-time bachelor’s degree program.

You cannot be a lawyer unless you have passed law school. So, it can altogether take around 7 years to finish the education required to be a lawyer. But the time may extend like 1 to 2 years in the struggle to get a chance in law school.

Licensing Process for Being a Lawyer

Most people who choose to be a lawyer as a profession earn degrees in the traditional way, which is completing the undergraduate following law school. And doing this helps them to become a licensed lawyer.

In many states like California, it is mandatory to have a license or certificate to be a practicing lawyer. Therefore, the complete process, in a nutshell, is given below:

  • Complete the 4 years undergrad level
  • Complete the 3 years Juris Doctor program
  • Take a bar admission course
  • Seat for the exam
  • Pass in the exam with an ample grade

Types of Law Degrees

There are different degrees in the lawyer, and they are the core requirements to become a lawyer. And according to the purpose, the students choose their degree. Below we have discussed 6 of them with the definite time that will be required.

1. Juris Doctor

The Juris Doctor is a significant degree for lawyers that they get after completing their law school. Moreover, if you want to be a licensed lawyer, this is the best option to get. It will fulfill all the requirements needed to sit for the Bar Examination. Most Juris Doctor programs allow students to become specialize in niches like,

  • Advocacy
  • Tax law
  • Elder law
  • Civil litigation
How Long Does It Take to Become a Juris Doctor?

You will need 3 years to be a Juris Doctor, but it should be done in a full-time program. In part-time, it will finish within 4 to 5 years. Moreover, there are also accelerated Juris Doctor alternatives, which will take 2 years.

2. Master of Legal Studies

The Master of Legal Studies is also known as MLS. Generally, it is a professional graduate degree for people who want to deal with American laws. However, this degree will not help you to be a licensed lawyer, like the Juris Doctor.

The students of MLS may not even feel the requirement to sit for the LSAT Examination. Below are some of the fields that deal with the MLS program

  • Court administrators
  • Trial consultants
  • Aid paralegals
  • Compliance directors
  • E-discovery specialists
How Long Does It Take to Complete a Master of Legal Studies Degree?

It will require much less time to complete the Masters of Legal Studies program. Therefore, it may require something from 12 to 16 months to complete if done full-time. However, part-time will require much more time, like 3 years.

3. Master of Dispute Resolution

The Master of Dispute Resolution is also known as MDR, and it is a non-JD degree. Basically, it is essential for sharpening the negotiation skill of law students. MDR programs are offered to both non-lawyers and licensed lawyers for learning conflicts solving procedures. Therefore, they can work as,

  • Mediators
  • Public policy facilitators
  • Arbitrators
  • Ombudspersons
  • Labor relations specialists
  • Financial services conciliators
How Long Does It Take to Complete Master of Dispute Resolution Degree?

Master of Dispute Resolution Degree will require somewhere from 16 to 28 months. So, if you choose the full-time program, you can finish it early; otherwise, you will require a significant amount of time. Usually, it contains 30 to 48 credits.

4. Master of Laws

The Master of Laws is a post-graduate program, and it is also known as LLM. Therefore, if you want to pursue higher studies in law and perform advanced training as a licensed lawyer, you can complete your LLM.

However, LLM degrees are more focused on the legal theory to understand the law more precisely. Some of the core and common theories are:

  • Intellectual property
  • Environmental law
  • Immigration
  • Family law

This program is entirely optional. So, you can either do it or avoid it.

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Master of Laws Degree?

The program of Master of Laws requires 1 year to complete. During this specific time, deep knowledge is given about criminal law and constitutional law. However, studying it 100% online will require around 2 years.

5. Doctor of Juridical Science

The Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) is one of the most challenging and highest law school programs. But everyone from a law background cannot pursue it unless they have completed their Master of Laws and Juris Doctor program. Moreover, this higher degree focuses on

  • Practicing law
  • Training legal academics
  • Specialists for writing or teaching
How Long Does It Take to Complete a Doctor of Juridical Science Degree?

Doctor of Juridical Science degree requires 2 years to complete if done full-time. But the part-time students will require more than 3 to 4 years to complete. Generally, it requires 40 to 48 credits more than the Juris Doctor.

6. Doctor of Philosophy in Law

Doctor of Philosophy in Law is also an upper-level law school program, which focuses highly on research methodologies. Moreover, as this is a Ph.D. program, a scientific opinion is used for revising jurisprudence and preparing a dissertation. Therefore, Ph.D. will help in being

  • Consultants
  • Researchers
  • Patent lawyers
  • Professors

How Long does It Take to Complete Doctor of Philosophy In Law?

The students of Doctor of Philosophy need to complete 90 to 100 credits. And the time required for this is 4 to 8 years. However, from the Master of Laws, 30 credits can be transferred. Completing dissertation research is very time-consuming and complicated.

How to Become a Lawyer: Step by Step

Everything needs to go through a procedure to reach a definite goal. Therefore, below we have given complete steps to become a lawyer, and you will also find the reasons to become a lawyer.

Step 01: Completing High School Studies

Foundation is essential, and high school studies are the foundation of education. So, choose a school that will serve you proper education and stays with you whenever you feel the necessity of implementing it.

Step 02: Completing an Undergraduate Degree

After completing school, it is time to get admission to the university to complete the undergraduate degree. Basically, this is the stage where you will be taught all the legal terms of your country’s law and order within 4 years. Some people might take some additional time.

Below are some of the study areas that will help you to get a strong foundation for law school:

  • Economics
  • Political science
  • English
  • History
  • Philosophy
  • Public speaking
  • Math

Step 03: Taking the LSAT

After completing the Bachelor’s degree, you need to take preparation for the LSAT. However, this exam has similarities with the SAT, which is taken during admission to law school. The score that you will get on the LSAT will play a vital role in your present law school or your next targeted law school.

The LSAT exam is not very easy. Therefore, to get a good score, the students need to study a minimum of 150 to 300 hours. In a nutshell, it can be around 3 to 6 months, depending on the study process and time per week.

Furthermore, to get ample time to study, some students also decide to take a break in the middle of college and law school.

Step 04: Completing the J.D. Degree

It will take almost 3 years to finish your Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. During this time, you will gain knowledge about

  • Legal writing
  • Property law
  • Civil procedure
  • Constitutional law
  • Contract law

However, there are also some other fields that you will get knowledge about. These are:

  • Corporate law
  • Labor law
  • Tax law

Moreover, if you live in California and want to practice law there, you surely need to join an ABA-accredited law school. They are all permitted by the Cal Bar Association. So, the curriculum they offer meets the standard of the Bar Association so that you will be enabled to take part in a Bar Examination.

Step 05: Taking a State’s Bar Examination

To have a license as a lawyer, you need to pass the State’s Bar Examination. And for this, you may need a couple of months to some years. However, it depends on:

  • Your total study time
  • Passing the exam on the very first time

Therefore, the people who want to be lawyers should not take the study required for the Bar Examination lightly. You need to study a minimum of 400 hours, which is around 9 weeks with full-time study. But you will need much more time if you choose half-time study.

Although people study hard to get a chance at the very time, most of the people fail. In this situation, they will need some extra months than their expected time to be a lawyer.

The Final Verdict

Like the other professions, being a lawyer is also prestigious. It is not easy to achieve the goal as the participant needs to have both patience and courage to read all those fat books. Moreover, it is even said that the education of a lawyer never ends. Every day he needs to study the existing and new laws to implement in his clients’ cases.

However, from the above information, the answer to how long does it take to become a lawyer is served. It is essential to set the goal from the high school days. And if you are now studying in high school, I would tell you it is worth being a lawyer.

Frequently Asked Questions

We have received some questions regarding the years to become a lawyer and so on. So, let us have a quick look at them to clear the confusion.

Is it hard to become a lawyer?

Nothing is complicated if you have proper dedication. So the same in the case of becoming a lawyer. You need to study and attend all the regular classes to avoid any complications in getting good marks. Because at the end of the day, both the knowledge and marks matter to become a lawyer.

Is being a lawyer worth it?

Yes, being a lawyer is totally worth it. At a time, you will get respect and a sufficient amount of money for living a standard life. However, a lawyer in the USA earns approximately $120,910 a year.

Can you complete law school in 2 years?

Generally, it takes 3 years to complete law school. And some may even require 4 to 5 years. But to complete it in 2 years is quite impossible.

Can anyone take the bar exam?

In some states of different countries, it is allowed to sit for the bar exam without attending law school. But other than that, it is mandatory to complete both the undergrad and law school to take the bar exam.

How many years of university does it take to be a lawyer?

University starts right after completing high school. Afterward, to get a law degree from the university, a student needs to study for 4 years. But if someone does not choose full-time, he will need 5 to 6 years or even more.

What is the cheapest Law School?

Some of the most affordable law schools in the USA are: •The University of Wyoming (yearly $25,148 on average) •The City University of New York (yearly $19,950 on average) •Southern University Law Center (yearly $22,790 on average) •The University of North Dakota (yearly $16,896 on average) •The University of the District of Columbia (yearly $18,200 on average)

What is the quickest way to get a law degree?

The quickest way to get a law degree is to choose full-time programs at Bachelor's, law school, and Master's level. Choosing part-time programs will require more than 10 to 12 years, which is very time-consuming.