How Long Does It Take to Become a Lawyer

How long does it take to become a lawyer? The path to becoming a lawyer takes longer than many careers, and because there is so much schooling involved (plus the expense), many people get discouraged from this particular career path. However, when compared to other graduate-type programs, the length of time it takes to become a lawyer is comparable.

Bachelor's Degree
In order to get accepted into law school, an applicant must have a bachelor's degree. Most undergraduate degree programs are structured over four years. Universities don't offer a rigid pre-law school degree, but they allow prospective law school applicants to choose a degree that will teach them the skills they will need to succeed in law school. Some students can complete a bachelor's degree in less than four years, especially if they have earned some college credit in high school. It's possible to earn a bachelor's degree in three years with an early enough start. Part-time students may take as long as six years to earn a bachelor's degree.

Law School
Most law school programs in the United States are structured for three years for full-time students. Each year of law school is given a name to recognize a student's rank-1L, 2L and 3L. Several law schools offer part-time programs for working students, and that usually stretches the completion time to five years. However, the majority of law schools are designed for students who can commit to attend full-time for the duration.

Bar Exam
While a law school graduate is technically a lawyer, she cannot practice law until being admitted to the state bar association. The bar exam is given twice per year, and most 3L students register to take the exam in July after graduation. The two-day test is administered in February as well. Once the graduate takes the bar exam, it takes several months to notify the test takers of the results. Most state bar exam boards send out results in November. Each state will conduct a swearing-in ceremony for new attorneys a few weeks after that.

The Final Analysis
The total time it takes to become a lawyer after high school can be as fast as 7.5 years or as long as 12 years.

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