What Education or Type of Degree Is Needed to Be a Lawyer?
Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a lawyer. Get a quick view of the requirements and details about degree programs, job duties, and bar licensure to find out if this is the career for you. View article
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- Dual Master of Jurisprudence in Corporate and Business Law / Master of Business Administration
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- 0:31 Undergraduate Education
- 1:00 Juris Doctor (J.D.) Degree
- 1:42 Additional Studies
- 2:08 Graduate Education
- 2:47 Career Outlook & Salary
Potential lawyers need Juris Doctor (J.D.) degrees to practice law. The education path typically takes a total of seven years to complete, including four years of undergraduate coursework and three years of law school. After earning their J.D. degrees, lawyers must pass their state’s bar exam and complete any other requirements necessary to be licensed before they can practice law. Some lawyers choose to specialize in a particular area of law by earning further degrees.
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A bachelor’s degree is required for admission into law school. Although the American Bar Association (ABA) notes that there’s no specific undergraduate major that best prepares aspiring lawyers for law school, it suggests that students complete coursework that stresses problem-solving, writing, critical reading, research, and oral communication. Accordingly, students may consider completing courses in English, political science, business, economics, and mathematics.
Juris Doctor (J.D.) Degree
Admission to Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree programs is generally competitive. All ABA-approved law schools require applicants to sit for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Along with LSAT scores, admission is determined by an applicant’s education, work experience, propensity for law, and general character. Some applicants may be required to sit for interviews and submit certified transcripts.
J.D. degree programs typically take three years of full-time study to complete. The first year of law school usually focuses on general law courses, such as contracts, criminal law, and legal writing. In the final years, students usually study a specialty, such as corporate or labor law.
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To gain additional experience with law and the legal process, students may participate in mock trials, contribute to law journal publications, and receive hands-on, supervised training in legal clinics. Some programs also incorporate clerkship programs, in which students work with attorneys at law firms and legal departments. Clerks may be responsible for drafting legal documents, working with judges, and conducting legal research.