This question –about how long it takes to become a lawyer –must have crossed your mind if you’re one of the high-school students hoping to become a lawyer in the future.
In reality, there are several kinds of lawyers and more often than not, the number of years it takes to become one will vary depending on your country and the kind of lawyer that you intend to become.
If you’ve ever dreamt of appearing in the courtroom on behalf of the oppressed, being a lawyer is probably your calling. As you hope to actualize your dream through a law education, chances are that you’ll want to know the number of years it will take you to become a lawyer. In this post, you’ll find out how long it takes to become a lawyer but before that, here are the Reasons Why People Study Law
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Law Is a Highly Reputed Profession
Lawyers command repute not only because they earn well but also because they contribute immensely to the promotion of the justice system.
Among many parents, there’s the widespread belief that students studying medicine, law or engineering will go ahead to become more successful than other students. Whether this always reflects on the students’ chances of success is perhaps a topic to be discussed some other time. But in reality, the repute cast around the legal profession has reflected across generations, making law an ever-prestigious field of study.
Lawyers are held in high regard and if you’re just overly “crazy” about being accorded such regard, you could be keen to study law.
Lawyers Earn So Well
From the moral or constructive perspective, we may argue that the likelihood of making lots of money should never be the main reason behind anyone’s desire to study law. If you’re a law aspirant, what you should prioritize most is the passion to make justice prevail. Since law has ever remained a lucrative line of occupation, your passion –to make justice prevail –will earn you reasonable wealth in the long run.
Nevertheless and for the fact that reputable lawyers earn really well, money will seem like the major motivation for some high-school graduates craving to study law.
Undeniably, law is a high-paying profession but if you must make substantial fortune in the legal industry, it behooves you to really know your onions. Also, it would prove beneficial that you establish yourself as a specialist in a specialty with high demand. This way, you’ll get easily attracted to lots of clients who’ll be willing to engage your service.
Law Gives Room for Specialization
Specialization is a concept which focuses the attention of an individual on a particular course of action or line of business. Through this focus, the individual commits ample effort to the line of business (or course of action) and this way, the individual will most likely boost their chances of standing out of the crowd.
The legal field appeals to specialization and this is why lawyers may be classified under different sub-specialties such as criminal law, intellectual property law, green law, public law, private law, administrative law, etc.
Rather than swing between various sub-specialties of law, a shrewd lawyer would likely stick with a particular high-demand area of specialization and build their reputation in that area.
The Need to Make Justice Prevail
This need –to make justice prevail –is undoubtedly one of the fundamental reasons behind the practice of law. It is therefore unsurprising to learn that people may want to study law as a reflection of their passion towards helping others on legal matters.
Perceiving themselves as advocates of justice, some lawyers take it upon themselves to help underserved or marginalized people in getting what they deserve. If you strongly believe in the doctrine that justice should always prevail irrespective of the status of parties involved in legal matters, you’re much likely to admire what lawyers do.
Another exemplification of this need –to make justice prevail –is how a special category of lawyers, public interest lawyers, renders legal assistance to low-income earners or individuals who lack the financial capability to engage the service of a lawyer. Such lawyers ultimately contribute to promoting societal welfare especially as they take up “free-of-charge” legal causes on behalf of poor individuals in the society.
You may feel some powerful persons in society are oppressing low-income earners. If you take displeasure in this kind of situation, you might want to become a lawyer who’ll eventually help the oppressed in the fight for their rights.
Even though some aspirants might want to pull out of the decision to study law, probably due to the number of years it takes to become a lawyer, the four reasons above are enough to keep them motivated.
Insight into What Lawyers Earn
We may not have to further stress that lawyers earn big but to prove the point that attorneys, solicitors or barristers (as the case may be) earn so well, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) confirms that the annual salary of a US lawyer is estimated at $120,910.
Similarly, the salaries of lawyers in other countries, including Australia and the United Kingdom, are really worthwhile. Information provided by Glassdoor indicates that the annual salary of a lawyer in the Australian city, Melbourne, stands at A$85,000 while that of their UK counterpart in London is estimated at £68,171.
Not only is the salary of a professional lawyer worthwhile, but also, there are usually a whole lot of jobs waiting out there for lawyers. Information provided by the Bureau of Statistics indicated that as of 2018, the United States had nothing less than 800,000 jobs that lawyers in the country could pick up. Meanwhile, the growth rate of available jobs in the US legal industry appears remarkable. This is just as BLS projected a 6% growth rate for jobs that would be available to US lawyers between 2018 and 2028.
Although lawyers in high-demand specialties earn better than their counterparts in low-demand specialties, the average salaries of lawyers in the three countries above (US, UK and Australia) greatly attest the fact that lawyers are well paid.
Duties Performed by Lawyers
Exposure to movies may have wired your mind to accept that all a lawyer does is appearing in court on behalf of a defendant. This doesn’t however erase the fact that the latter is just one of the duties of a (criminal defense) lawyer and there’s more to what a lawyer does.
As implied earlier, law is a field with various specialties and while a lawyer’s duties may vary depending on their specialty, here are the duties performed by lawyers:
- Serving as an advocate during administrative hearings
- Presenting oral arguments, on behalf of clients, in the courtroom
- Protection of clients’ intellectual property
- Writing out the preliminary versions of court papers
- Counseling clients on legal matters and what actions to take next
- Executing the terms in the will of a deceased client
- Contract drafting, signing and negotiation on behalf of clients
How Many Years Does It Take to Become a Lawyer?
It takes an average of 7 years to complete the required education that qualifies one to serve as a lawyer. Notably, this 7-year period combines the 4-year duration required for completing a bachelor’s degree in law (or other relevant discipline) and the 3 years to complete your education in law school.
Except you’re faced with an obstacle in your attempt to get into Law School, you shouldn’t spend more than 7 years to complete the education that makes you a lawyer. The obstacle may manifest as delayed admission into a law school as some BSc graduates, due to one reason or the other, might not get admitted into the school from their first attempt.
Depending on your school and course of study, your bachelor’s degree can take between 3 and 5 years. If you’re studying law in a school where 5 years is the duration for a BSc in law, it will likely take you 8 years to become a lawyer.
Also, financial difficulty may manifest as another obstacle in the transition to Law School. A student who can’t afford the financial requirement of Law School yet may deem it difficult to process their admission. To lessen this financial strain, students looking to advance to Law School are enjoined to exploit the law scholarships that they are eligible for.
Fundamentally, the duration it takes to become a lawyer can vary from one country to another. This is why averagely in the United States, it might take more years to become a lawyer if compared to the required duration in the UK.
Here’s a detailed look at how many years it takes to become a lawyer in the United States:
The United States stipulates a 7-year period for completing the education that qualifies an individual as a lawyer. Notably, this 7-year duration consists of a 4-year period for completing an undergraduate degree and a 3-year period for running a Law School degree.
It’s also noteworthy that at the undergraduate level, a student isn’t mandated to study law before they can be admitted into Law School in the US. As a non-law student, it’s however expedient that you have attained your BSc degree in any of the following courses: Government, Mathematics, Economics, English, History and Public Speaking.
In the US, Law School education spans a three-year period but before you’re deemed qualified for American Law School admission, you must have passed your LSAT (Law School Admission Test). While an ABA-accredited law school is highly recommended for US Law School education, the courses the student will take include property law, constitutional law, legal writing, contracts, and civil procedure.
At the end of your courses in a US law school, you’ll undergo the compulsory Bar Exam. You’ll be made to take this exam either in your state of residence or the state where you intend to practice as a lawyer.
You’ll have to devote two or three months to studying for the Bar Exam and after the exam, you’ll have to wait for some months for the release of the results. Nevertheless, this period –in which you study for the exam and await the release of results –normally takes less than 12 months.
Your call-to-bar process is what should follow provided that you’ve duly passed the Bar Exam. Meanwhile, you must note that this process necessitates that you pass the character and fitness review of your state’s bar association. Given that you have a “clean background”, you shouldn’t struggle to pass this character and fitness review within few months.
By our estimation, all the above –from taking an undergraduate course to studying ahead of the Bar Exam and finally passing the character and fitness review of your state –should be completed within 8 years. What this means is that you can expect to become a lawyer in the US within 8 years.
While we noted that it takes an average of 7 years to become a lawyer, it’s noteworthy that in arriving at that estimate, we actually factored in the educational requirements for becoming a lawyer in the United States. The bottom line here is that the country where you’re studying would be a major determinant of how long it should take you to become a lawyer.
In the UK for example, the duration appears quite complicated as it takes an average of 5 years to become a Barrister and a period of 6 – 7 years to become a Solicitor in the country. Note that the implied duration exclusively applies to law graduates in the UK. A non-law graduate in the UK may spend 10 – 11 years or 10 – 12 years to become a Barrister or Solicitor respectively.
Finally, we believe this post has provided you with detailed information about the number of years it should take you to complete your law education and get admitted to bar. While you may feel that an average of 7 years is a lot of duration to become a lawyer, one thing you should always bear in mind is that the associated benefits will make up for the lengthy duration.