It takes approximately seven years to become a lawyer in the United States, however there are a few factors that goes into this that could make it longer. Usually the seven years includes four years of undergraduate study, followed by three years of law school. Most states also require lawyers to pass a professional ethics exam before being licensed to practice law.
However, there are a few things that could impact on how long it takes to become a lawyer:
- Undergraduate degree
- Full time vs part time
Factors Effecting How Many Years to Become a Lawyer
Usually an undergraduate degree can take 3-4 years but depending on the type of degree you are looking to obtain, this could be 5 years. Although the average undergraduate degree is 4 years, you may need to add on an additional year to becoming a lawyer if you are going after a 5 year program.
Full Time vs Part Time Law School
Maybe you are wanting to work while you are doing law school or maybe you have a family that you have to take care of, whatever the reason is, some law students opt to doing their law degree part time. This could double the amount of time it takes to complete the program and can affect how many years it will take you to become a lawyer. Full time takes 3 years but part time can take up to 6 years to complete.
Not only may you choose part time for law school, but you could take part time for your undergrad degree which again lengthens the amount of time to becoming a lawyer.
If you are interested in a more specialized area of law, such as fashion law, or would like to obtain more education and hands-on experience so that you may increase your pay and/or make yourself more appealing for job applications, consider earning your Masters of Law (LL.M). These programs are usually one year long but do offer part-time and full-time options, therefore it might be possible to add a year or more onto becoming a lawyer.
While the answer to “how long does it take to become a lawyer” may not be straightforward, there are steps you can take to make the process more streamlined. Namely, consider what undergraduate degree you want to pursue, if you want to study full-time or part-time, and whether or not you want to complete an LL.M program. Mapping this out will give you a clearer understanding of how many years it’ll take to become a lawyer.
FAQ on Becoming a Lawyer
How much is the average salary of a lawyer?
There are so many factors that go into this as it depends on the type of lawyer and the number of years you have experience. However a general range would be just under $122,000.
Should I get my LL.M?
If you are entering a competitive field or a field thats very specialized, then you may want to consider getting your LL.M to make you a more competitive applicant when applying for jobs. Also, having your LL.M should increase your beginning pay raise.
How Many Years of Law School to Become a Lawyer
It usually takes about 3 years of law school in order to become a lawyer. There are some factors that effect this such as if you do a congruent program where you combine your undergrad and you law school into one. This can usually knock off a year of schooling. The length of time also depends on if you are enrolling in full time or part time schooling.