How Long Does Law School Take?
If you see yourself in the courtroom convincing the judge or the jury that your client is innocent then a career as a lawyer is something you probably want to do. Unlike the educational preparation for other careers which only take an average of four years, you’ll have to spend considerably more time in school if you want to become a lawyer. After high school, you’ll have to be ready to spend at least seven years in school to get your law degree.
Your journey towards getting a law degree starts right after high school. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for entry in law school. There is no prescribed bachelor’s degree program but courses in political science, English, history and criminal justice serve as excellent educational backgrounds for future studies in law. A bachelor’s degree typically takes four years to complete for fulltime students. Obviously, if you’re a part-time student then it’s going to take you longer to finish your degree.
After you have obtained your bachelor’s degree, you will need to take the LSAT or the Law School Admission Test, the exam that measures your aptitude for a legal education. Entry into law school is highly competitive and your grades in undergraduate school as well as the score you get in the LSAT will matter greatly. Thus, you should take time to review for the LSAT. To give yourself ample time to prepare for the LSAT, it’s advisable to start the review and application process while you’re still finishing your undergraduate degree. In many law schools, applicants are typically urged to take the LSATs in December for a fall entry in law school.
Once you have finished the LSAT and the law school admissions process, the next step involves getting formal legal education. A law program typically takes three years to complete for a fulltime student. In many law programs, students are required to complete the entire program in three years, with extensions granted only on special circumstances. You should check that the law school you are enrolled in is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) since this is going to be a requirement for the licensing test. Graduating from a program will confer the juris doctor (JD) degree to the student. However, this is not sufficient to let you practice law.
After graduating from law school, you need to get your license so you can practice the profession. In addition to getting your law degree from an ABA-accredited program, you also need to pass the bar exams. You will have to give yourself ample time to prepare for this test since this will determine whether or not you will be able to practice as a lawyer. You’ll have to allocate at least 400 hours to study for the bar exam so depending on what your other responsibilities are, this could take anywhere from a few months to about a year.
Passing the bar exam will allow you to practice the profession. However, you will need to keep yourself abreast of the developments in the legal profession so you can continue to keep your license. This can be done by taking continuing education units. Each state has its own particular requirements with some requiring lawyers to take continuing education units every year. Others, meanwhile, ask lawyers to take continuing education units every three years so they can keep their license.