How Long Does It Take to Become a Lawyer in the Us

Timeline of becoming a lawyer in 2021

The timeline of becoming a lawyer in the US is usually seven years of undergraduate studies and studying at a law school. However, students may take longer than that depending on whether they chose a full-time program or a part-time college program. Becoming a lawyer is a fantastic dream. However, it takes hard work, consistency, and many extra nights to succeed. Nonetheless, there are fun aspects to studying law. It offers students the opportunity to build their public speaking and networking skills. The bringing together of students from different educational backgrounds leads to exchanging information, broadens their knowledge, and prompts them to do more. Furthermore, the student phase only lasts a few years, after which their dreams will come to fruition. 

Earn An Undergraduate Degree 

  • Students should have had good grades from their high school diploma or whatever educational program they recently completed. 
  • Begin the admission process at a minimum of 6 months before the closing date.
  • Visit their websites or go through their brochures for information. 
  • Choose what colleges to apply to.
  • Write and send their application letters to the colleges that meet their eligibility criteria. 
  • Have good SAT scores (Scholastic Aptitude Test)
  • Have a TOEFL score of at least 213 out of 300 for international students.
  • While in college, they have to earn 120-semester credits if they are fresh from high school, which is equivalent to 40 courses throughout the 4-year program.
  • However, an associate degree gives them 60-semester credits leaving them with only 60 credits more to graduate. 
  • The number of years they’ll spend in school will depend on whether they chose full-time or part-time accelerated studies.
  • They ought to earn a bachelor’s degree to attend law school.
  • Work hard to earn a good GPA.
  • Choose a university that lets them transfer previously earned credits from an associate degree, the military, or any program they did in the past.

Take the LSAT 

  • Known fully as the Law School Admission Test.
  • Most law schools require it for admission.
  • Can take it seven times annually and the application deadline for any session is one month before it.
  • Pick a session only; you are certain results will have been published before the last day of the law school application.
  • It takes 3 hours 30 minutes and comprises five sections and an underscore writing sample. 
  • The sections consist of 100 to 103 multiple choice questions in reading comprehension, argumentation, information management, critical thinking, and analysis.
  • LSAT tests students’ level of knowledge and understanding in areas related to the legal work they are to practice in the future 
  • It’s scored between 120 – 180 points.
  • It is advisable to study for at least months in advance to pass.
  • Taking preparatory LSAT classes and practice tests is an excellent way to stimulate the brain and test knowledge.
  • LSAT itself typically costs $200, but it’ll increase based on the number of law schools a student uses alongside other factors like changing test dates. 
  • LSAT costs can be waivered depending on some guidelines set by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC).

Complete Law School 

  • Seek information on the fees, location, curriculum, faculties, and fields of specialization available before applying to a law school.
  • Law school admission requirements include; LSAT scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, work experience, English proficiency exams for international students such as IELTS or Toefl, application fees, and any other requirements individual law schools have.
  • Students’ LSAT scores and their undergraduate GPA are the highest determinants of whether or not they’ll get into law school.
  • Generally, it takes three years to become a lawyer.
  • However, some law schools let students choose between a full-time program of 3 years and a part-time program of 4 years.
  • A Juris Doctor is accepted in all states in the US as the degree earned after law school.
  • Law school is intensive and requires utmost concentration and determination to succeed.
  • It entails intensive studying regularly on a wide range of topics.
  • It is physically and emotionally demanding. Compelling students to push themselves past any previous limits.
  • Completing all assignments, being present for every exam, and active participation during classes are stepping in the right direction. 
  • Students have to read thoroughly in preparation for cases and court readings, which are often more complicated than students can imagine.
  • Developing public speaking skills is imperative as students will need them during individual presentations in class. 
  • Another crucial skill students will learn is networking. They will need it throughout law school to seek explanations on various topics and relate with fellow students and lecturers.
  • To succeed, students ought to adopt crucial critical thinking and analytical skills to resolve difficult problems. 
  • Students should choose a program that provides in-depth knowledge on areas they are highly interested in. This will make them want to study and decrease their chances of getting frustrated with the system.
  • Specialties within the legal practice include; family law, criminal law, property welfare, equity finance law, commercial law, corporate law, tax law, etc.

Pass the Bar exam 

  • The bar exam is the gateway to bar admission, giving law school graduates a license to practice law.
  • The eligibility criteria to write the bar exam is set by individual states. 
  • The bar exam is in February and July, and students can register at their convenience. 
  • It is for two days. On the first day, six different areas of law, which include; Evidence, Contracts, Constitutional, Torts, Criminal, and Real Property law. This is known as the Multi-state Bar Examination, and it consists of 200 items. 
  • On the second day, on domestically designed essays that cover many areas. 
  • Still on day 2, an increasing number of states are administering the Multi-state Performance Test (MPT) and the Multi-state Essay Examination (MEE), nationally developed tests. 
  • Studying hard and having excellent background knowledge in the various law areas is a must to ensure success.

Gaining Admission to the bar association 

  • Passing the bar exam is an important requirement for gaining admission into the bar association. 
  • Applicants must get in touch with the board examiners in their jurisdiction in their final year of law school.
  • A background check is done on applicants to determine their education, behavior, character, and competence to work as licensed legal practitioners.
  • They must take part in and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), which takes place three times yearly. 

Finding your first job 

  • It can take up to a year or even more to find your first job. 
  • Create a professional resume that includes your internships, experience, education, various training, and certifications. If possible, pay a professional to write one for you. 
  • Upload your resume to multiple sites that advertise jobs to increase the level of visibility. 
  • Be consistent in seeking job openings, both online and offline. 
  • Be updated on your field of interest and in the new happenings so that when you do find a job, you will be more than ready. 
  • Have a keen eye for detail.
  • Be faithful in the little beginnings and do not take any work for granted.
  • Build your network by joining associations specific to your area or general ones. Put yourself out there. Meet people. Interact. Grow your circle. Push yourself to do more and be more.
  • Volunteer with law firms and institutions that need the services of a seasoned lawyer as often as possible. Volunteering gives you mastery of your skills and makes it easier for you to know about your field’s job opportunities. 
  • Apply to be an associate at a law firm or as a clerk. The possibility of climbing the ladder after a few years of gaining experience is vast.

How many years does it take to become a Corporate lawyer?

  • It takes about seven years to become a corporate lawyer. 4 years as an undergraduate degree, and three years are spent in law school to get a Juris Doctor.
  • Corporate lawyers are experts in legal matters relating to corporate affairs and businesses. They advise and defend their clients in the different traditional areas of their work, include real estate law, litigation, labor, taxation, among others. 
  • They may work at their law firm or a corporate organization. 
  • They represent individuals or corporations legally. 
  • They go through new business agreements to check if they are in line with what is recommended by the law.
  • They research legal matters and assess partnerships with other companies.
  • Corporate lawyers prepare and examine legal documents, create standard policies for corporations, and update the law’s regulations. 
  • To thrive as a corporate lawyer, a student ought to have excellent negotiating and communication skills, which will help get deals. 

How many years to become a Patent lawyer 

  • Just like corporate lawyers, patent lawyers need at least seven years of full-time study to become one. They have four years of undergraduate research and three years of studying in law school.
  • An eligibility criterion to become a patent lawyer is to study engineering or any other related science course at the undergraduate level.
  • To become a licensed patent lawyer, students have to pass the patent bar exam. 
  • Patent lawyers have a strong scientific background and can defend their clients in court on technology and various scientific inventions. 
  • Their job is to protect their client’s design, show how it is unique from others, or evolve. 
  • There are two types of patent lawyers; patent prosecutors and patent litigators. 
  • Patent prosecutors examine their client’s invention to determine whether it is the first of its kind and unique. If they find that it is, they draft an application and file it.
  • They present their client’s invention to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to get design and patent rights. They show proof that their client’s vision is new, different from any other before it, and deserves to be protected by patent law so they can receive patent license royalties whenever their design.
  • Patent prosecutors need to be licensed to practice patent law in the presence of the USPTO.
  • On the other hand, patent litigators have licensed patent lawyers who go to court with their clients to prove their client didn’t infringe patent rights. They are defense lawyers.  
  • They study different technological designs and stay updated on new changes to present a perfect argument in court. 
  • Generally, they work with technology experts to bring into the court of law to explain and validate their point carefully. 
  • Similarities in shapes or coding of a previous version of the invention and that of the prosecutor will prove patent infringement.

How long does it take to become a Family lawyer?

  • It takes 6 to 7 years, depending on whether a person does an accelerated undergraduate program or a full-time program. The accelerated program can take three years instead of the traditional 4-year full-time program. Then, law school typically takes three years before graduation to obtain a Juris Doctor. At this point, they are called attorneys. They are not licensed to practice until after taking and passing the bar exam. 
  • There is no specific preferred course at the undergraduate level. However, those who studied counseling and psychology may find the job easier.  
  • A Family lawyer is licensed to handle disputes between members of the same family. They include but are not limited to divorce, alimony, child support, prenuptial, and child adoption.
  • They also read the last testaments, are active in real estate distribution among members of the same family. 
  • Good communication skills are imperative as it is needed both in and out of the courtroom.
  • In some instances, they refer their clients to other professionals such as therapists, doctors, bankers, counselors, and many more, depending on the issue at hand. 
  • Practicing requires a high level of a lot of patience and a keen ear for details. 
  • To be a family lawyer, one must have good negotiating and debating skills to present their client’s case in court properly. 
  • They provide counseling from the most basic to the most sensitive issues plaguing their clients. 
  • Family lawyers have to be emotionally stable as they deal with some of the world’s most challenging cases, from intimate partner violence to divorce. They ought to demonstrate empathy so they can understand the depth of their client’s problem. 
  • They are famed for practicing high confidentiality levels on what they have discussed with their client because they hear information that clients will typically not tell anyone else. 
  • Family lawyers are professional at all times, no matter how bad the case is. It is wrong for them to take matters personally as it’ll cloud their judgment and lead to a  biased opinion. 
  • Additionally, they have excellent organizational skills to prevent them from mixing up the cases of individual clients they are handling simultaneously. 

How many years of schooling to become an immigration lawyer?

  • It takes seven years of studying to become an immigration lawyer. 
  • These lawyers assist their clients with deportation, seeking political asylum in the US, applying for US citizenship, etc. 
  • To increase their chances of getting a job, they learn at least one other language recognized worldwide. 
  • Immigration lawyers are known for good communication skills with their clients by maintaining their composure in the worst situations and the authorities by learning the right words to say. 
  • Immigration lawyers are patient and understanding as they work with clients from various cultural backgrounds. Most of them are scared and incoherent in their speech or are speaking broken English. 
  • They are detail-oriented. Picking out every part of the information and carefully analyzing it to come up with results. This is because they know that the slightest change in details can alter the entire case. 
  • Since immigration policies are constantly changing, they are avid readers. They are always on their toes, looking for new information and better ways to help their clients. 

How long would it take to become a real estate lawyer?

  • A 4-year Bachelors’s degree in any field of study. Then a pass mark in LSAT test, applying into law school and getting admitted. After completing law school, they are lawyer attorneys. Then write the bar entrance exam to be accepted into the bar program. After which, they get a license to practice as real estate lawyers. 
  • Real estate lawyers work in a host of areas. They can work on residential real estate, lending institutions, and corporations. 
  • They are skilled in networking with other real estate agents and mortgage lenders to increase information to ease clients’ referral process. 
  • They have insider knowledge of the legal process. Depending on who they are representing, real estate lawyers have to extensively study the ins and outs of those cases. 
  • If they represent companies, buyers, or sellers, they put the client’s interest ahead of theirs. 
  • They fully realize time is of the essence, and they use it wisely.

How many years of college to become a prosecutor lawyer 

  • They are also known as criminal lawyers. 
  • It takes about four years to obtain a Bachelors’s degree from college, following the traditional route. However, accelerated or part-time programs can either reduce the number of years or increase depending on how many courses a student takes.
  • Generally, students who become prosecutor lawyers study philosophy or political science in their undergraduate years.
  • Prosecutor lawyers are meticulous in their dealings as they know a single error can land the defendant the wrong jail sentence.
  • Depending on where they work, they can either handle a wide range of cases ranging from juvenile cases and traffic cases to specific ones. 
  • They work on behalf of the government at the municipal, state, or federal level. 
  • They go through police records collecting information to build their base. 
  • Interview witnesses to crimes, interview victims of crime, and present their case against the defendant. 
  • They negotiate pleas by criminals for shorter sentences in a bid to get information from them. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average GPA for law schools? 

The top 10 law schools in the US require a GPA of 3.7 and above 4. 

The ten medium ranking law schools require an average GPA of 3.4

The ten lowest-ranking law schools accept an average GPA of 2.95

What is the average LSAT score?

The LSAT score is between 120 to 180 points. The average LSAT is 150 points.

What subjects do you need to become a lawyer?

You do not need any particular subjects to become a lawyer. Students from all degree programs are allowed to apply to law school. After which they can study in law school and become lawyers.

What is the fastest way to get a law degree?

The fastest way to get a law degree is to apply to law school in the third year of your 4-year undergraduate program. That way, it’ll take you about six years to get a law degree instead o the standard years. However, there’s a catch, you need excellent undergraduate results, and you ought to pass the bar exam on the first try. While some law schools make allowance for this, others do not. 

Can you be a lawyer without passing the bar exam?

Yes, you can. However, that is because you become a lawyer immediately after you graduate from law school. The bar exam doesn’t make you a lawyer. What it does is grant you a legal license to practice as a lawyer.

Helen Vlasova
Helen is the co-founder of, a career guidance website for students and young professionals. She has a degree in English from the University of Michigan. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and traveling.

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