You might have in mind to become a lawyer as a child and now you have grown, then the big question is usually how long does it takes to become a lawyer.
This particular question on becoming a lawyer is very important so you can estimate how long it will take before you begin to get the benefit of your education.
The passion to practice law and save lives and businesses or families as rhe casr might be will motivate you to focus. It is important also to know what is needed to become a lawyer (requirements of becoming a lawyer) as you contemplate how long does it take to become a lawyer.
In the society, the law of the land brings order and peace to the world, so the load on the shoulders of lawyers to decide who to prosecute is heavy and neededs capable hands.
So if lawyers don’t build their cases well and an innocent man gets prosecuted for crime he is not guilty of, the scale of justice tilts towards injustice and evil roams the streets. For this very reason, it takes 6 to 7 years of law education fro someone to become a lawyer and practice law. This is subject to countries though.
As you will see as you go through this article, the number of years it will take to become a lawyer varies with countries. Also, you will see how many years it takes to become several kinds of lawyers. You will also learn about the educational requirements to become a lawyer in the UK, USA, and Australia. Keep reading to discover all these.
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Before we dive into who a lawyer is and what he does, what is a law
What is Law
According to Wikipedia, Law is commonly understood as a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate conduct, although its precise definition is a matter of longstanding debate. It has been variously described as a science and the art of justice.
So those system of rules and regulations enacted by the government or its agencies and relevant bodies to guide the acts of citizens and practice are laws. I am sure our discussion is getting interesting right?
Who is a Lawyer?
Quoting the American Bar Association, “a lawyer is a licensed professional who advises and represents people in legal matters. The lawyer is also an attorney, counsel, or counselor”.
So whenever you hear these alternative names, you still know who the person is referring to.
Lawyers do apply abstract legal theories and knowledge which they have gained from a law education to be able to represent their client in law courts.
With the applications of these theories and knowledge gained from long educational program in the university and law schools, they can be able to solve their client problem according to the need.
What Does a Lawyer Do?
From the common ideals of people within the society and movies and fictional novels, lawyers are seen as those who stand for criminals or victims of unfortunate situations.
However, this is not all that a lawyer does, In fact, it is just a kind of lawyer that defends criminals – the Criminal Defense Lawyer.
You too can have this lopsided understanding like many of us do, but with this article you will understand the kinds or types of lawyers and their practice.
The main duties of a lawyer is to uphold the rule of law and protect the client’s rights while upholding the law and its ethics.
In practice, Lawyers perform the following actions or roles to protect their client:
- Research and draft court papers briefing the court on the issues in a case before the day they will orally argue it.
- Perform advocacy roles in administrative hearings
- Build a relationship with their clients through intake and counseling with regard to pending litigation.
- Make oral arguments in courts supporting their clients.
- Provide legal advice to their clients regarding what they should do next.
- Negotiate and draft contracts
- Protect the intellectual property of their clients through patents, trademarks, and industrial designs.
- Execute the intent of the deceased by drafting wills, trusts, and other documents to ensure the efficient disposition pf a person’s property after death.
Why become a Lawyer ?
Coming to know how long does it take to become a lawyer? The answer which is about 6 to 7 years of law education in different countries may again lead to another question, why become a lawyer.
Though your passion of becoming a lawyer is a strong motivation, still you need to keep in mind why you want to study law and what you want to achieve as a lawyer.
Reasons why people study law
Many people today have different reasons why they want to become lawyers, and this forms the type of lawyers they will be upon graduation from the university and law schools.
So let see some of the reasons people become a lawyer.
The Fat Earnings
The truth is that lawyers around the world are one of the highest earners in the labor force. Law is simply an educational investment with good returns.
However, don’t be deceived, for you to earn big, you must be good in your profession as a lawyer. Also you need to be a top shot at a big or well known law firm to make it in this well paying jobs.
Furthermore, you can get paid well if your area of practice as a lawyer is in high demand and in a particular niche. Sadly, lawyers in public practice in some countries don’t get a good pay.
The Law Reputation
Many families today see some professions like Engineering, Medicine and Law as the only good profession. With this kind on background, studying law will be a nice decision.
Many people holds the law profession to high level making generations to come to be the same, seeing lawyers as the best profession. Lawyers command respect and the media always project them as successful professionals.
Opportunity for Specialization
The law industry is one with many segmentation and specialization. Thus, being in such profession will make your service indispensable with it’s many sub-specialties of law that you can specialize in and grow a reputation there.
Some of these areas of specializations in law include green law and intellectual property law.
The Opportunity to Help People
The law itself is buit on the foundation of helping people. As a person who that want evil amd wicked person and practice to thrive in the society, organisation or government, you might what to study law in other to help people or the society.
Using your profession as a lawyer, you can help people get what is due to them as well as take care of organizations’ legal problems.
The public interest lawyers work is to uphold legal causes to promote the greater good of society and provide legal assistance to those who can’t afford a lawyer.
Some lawyers in private practice also provide “Pro bono” services to low-income individuals of underserved populations like victims of child abuse. When you see how much good you can be to the world, you just want to become a lawyer.
Knowing how long does it take to become a lawyer is important but the pay will be considered too. So how much do lawyers actually earn?
How Much Does a Lawyer earn?
From the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Lawyers in the USA earn an estimated $120,910 annually. As of 2018, BLS estimates the job to grow by 6% from 2018 to 2028 having about 823,000 jobs available in the USA in 2018. That is to say that there will be additional 50,100 jobs available for lawyers. This growth is faster than the average job growth for other jobs.
Glassdoor gives the salary of attorneys in London, (UK ) as £68,171 annually and that of Lawyers in Melbourne (Australia), as A$85,000 annually. So you see that in almost every part of the world, Lawyers and Attorneys earn great salaries.
Law School takes how long?
You must be surprised that out of the proposed 6 to 7 years to become a lawyer, Law School typically takes three (3) years to complete. Then you must be wondering, why it takes so long in becoming a lawyer if it takes just three years to complete a law school.
What happens is that before you get into a law school, you must have completed a bachelor’s degree. The bachelor’s degree you have these days does not really matter, but your degree should provide you with knowledge in political science, history, criminal justice, and philosophy.
To get a bachelor’s degree now will take from three to five years to complete and may take longer if it is not full time, so you are advised if you need to become a lawyer in shortest period of time, make sure you study for full time.
Since you can’t become a lawyer until you have passed through law school, it takes seven (7) years to complete the required education to become a lawyer. But this could be more if you spend one or two years struggling to gain acceptance into a law school. It could also be shorter if you complete an accelerated bachelor’s program.
To reduce the financial burden of attending law school, here are law scholarships you can take advantage of.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Lawyer in the USA?
To become a lawyer in the United States of America, the educational requirements will take you 7 years to complete. This is broken down into an undergraduate degree of four (4) years, and a Law School degree of three (3) years.
At first, you need to get an undergraduate degree from an accredited university or college. It doesn’t matter what area of study you get your bachelor’s degree in. But ensure that your bachelor’s degree covered courses in English, Public Speaking, Government, History, Economics, and Mathematics.
Secondly, you need to get into Law School. To get into law school you must pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). It will take you about 3 years to complete law school and there in the law school, you’ll take courses in constitutional law, contracts, property law, civil procedure, and legal writing. It is very important that you attend an ABA-accredited law school.
Lastly, àfter completing the law school, you will have to sit for the Bar Exam in your state or the state you hope to practice law in. practicing for the Bar Exam will take you two to three months and getting the results takes some extra months, but in all, it usually takes less than a year.
Once you’ve passed the bar exam, you’ll need to be officially admitted to Bar. This involves passing your State’s Bar Association’s character and fitness review. This will take a number of months, depending on how clean your background is.
Soin General, it will take you 7 to 8 years to become a lawyer in the USA. 8 years, if you add the additional months for practicing for the bar exams and passing your State’s Bar Association’s character and fitness review.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Lawyer in the UK?
To become a lawyer in the United kingdom, there are educational requirements too you must pass and it will take about 6 to 7 years.
In the UK, lawyers in practice are divided into solicitors and barristers and there are multiple ways to becoming any of these. There is the direct entry and the non-law graduate entry.
Direct Entry Path
Through the Direct entry path, you can become a solicitor in six to seven year time. At first you take the LL.B (Hon),which is the qualifying law degree. Unlike the USA that treats their law degree as a graduate degree, the law degree in the UK is an undergraduate degree (LL.B.). The LL.B. takes three (3) years to complete.
The second stage is to complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC) which normally takes 2 years to complete. But with a First Class and a Second Class degree, you can finish the LPC in 1 year with the fast track course.
Finally, you will undergo a trainee contract with a law firm for 2 years. On completion of this contract, you’ll get admission into the Law Society of England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland.
On the other hand, To become a Barrister with the direct entry path, you will need to complete the LL.B. (Hons) – 3 years. After that, you will complete the Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT) then take the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) – 1 year. You will then go for ‘Pupillage’ under a practicing barrister after the BPTC – 1 year. Thus, it takes a total of 5 years to become a Barrister in the UK.
Non-Law Graduate Entry Path
For the Non-law graduate path in the UK, first, you will complete a three-year undergraduate degree. After that, you will complete the Graduate Diploma in Law (CPE/GDL) that takes two (2) years.
After getting these credentials, you’ll follow the same steps as the direct entry path to either become a solicitor or a barrister. So, it will take you 10-12 years to become a solicitor and 10-11 years to become a barrister in the UK through the non direct entry path.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Lawyer in Australia?
To be a lawyer in Australia is similar to that of becoming a lawyer i the UK. The educational requirements of becoming a lawyer in Australia is first, getting a Juris Doctor(JD) or Bachelor of Law(LLB); a practical legal training (PLT); Legal Practice Admission; and a Practicing Certificate.
These are how you become a lawyer in Australia
LLB or JD
You need to complete an undergraduate program in law, which is the LLB program which takes four years to complete and it covers the “Priestley 11” which are the 11 areas of basic legal knowledge required for practice in Australia.
When you must have gotten your undergraduate degree, then you have LLB or JD which takes three years to complete.
After the LLB, you will complete a Practical Legal Training. You have to check your state’s Legal Admissions Board for approved Practical Legal Training (PLT) that you can take.
It takes like 6 months to complete the PLT and you can even take it online from recommended course providers. On completion, you’ll get the Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice.
To get to this level you must have spent four years plus towards becoming a lawyer in Australia. The next stage is to get admission to legal practice.
Getting admission to Legal Practice qualifies you to get a job but not practice as a lawyer in Australia. You must apply to the relevant state or territories Admissions Authority within five years of your graduation or it would be impossible to do so.
Certificate to practice law
For you to get law practicing certificate, you must have worked under the supervision of a practicing solicitor for more than 8 months, then you can apply to the local Law Society for a Practicing Certificate. This certificate allows you to practice in that state as a solicitor.
So in all, you would’ve taken at least 6 years of education and practice to get to this stage.
Remember that this path is for solicitors. For thoe who want to become a Barrister, you’ll have to gain entrance to the Bar Readers’ Course by taking and passing the bar exam.
Specializations in Law
There are many areas of specialization in the law industry. Lawyers can decide to specialise in any of the areas which suite them. Let us consider some of them like, corporate lawyer, Patent lawyer, Family lawyer, immigration lawyer, Real Estate lawyer an others.
Corporate lawyers are those lawyers that use their knowledge of business and finance law to understand, defend, and uphold business matters related to businesses and corporate affairs. So, a corporate lawyer works on behalf of a business entity (client) or government to provide legal counsel and services.
How to become a corporate lawyer
In the educational requirement to become a corporate lawyer, you need at least seven years of education same as the criminal defense lawyer.
At first you will complete a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject from accredited colleges or universities with degrees as business, economics, and finance degrees.
After the undergraduate education, you will submit your academic transcript and take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to gain admission into law school for a Juris Doctor degree.
The J.D for corporate lawyers is either the basic J.D or the dual-degree program in law and business that will grant you a J.D. and an MBA.
To practice as a corporate lawyer globally, you have to get Master of Law (LL.M.) degree. Having an LL.M. is essential as it offers specialization in Corporate Law and it will take you about 2 years extra to get.
So, breaking it down, you have 4-year undergraduate, 3-year law school, and 2-years master’s degree if you want to practice corporate lawyer globally. Thus, it will take between 7 to 9 years to become a corporate lawyer.
Who is a Patent Lawyer?
Patent lawyers are those specialised lawyers who represents inventors who discovered new formula or product and want to make it go public.
The patent lawyer is a lawyer with knowledge in the field of intellectual property who works with inventors during the patent period to ensure that they have legal protection.
How to become a Patent lawyer
The educational requirement involve in becoming a patent lawyers involves acquiring a bachelor’s degree, just like all other specializations in law. But for the patent lawyer, you would need a bachelor’s degree in a field of science like chemistry or a technical degree like engineering.
After a bachelor’s degree, you need a J.D degree from an accredited law school, which takes 3 years to complete.
Work of a Patent lawyer
Some of the job duties of the patent lawyer is to draft, file and prosecute patent applications in behalf of their client (inbentor) before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
So, if you would like to represent your client (inventors) in front of the USPTO, you would need to sit for and pass the USPTO licensing exam. Another name for it is ‘Patent Bar.’
When we come to how long does it take to be a Patent lawyer, it will be from seven to eight years. This is solely dependent on the time it took you to get your first degree.
Who is a Family Lawyer?
Family lawyers are those you meet when you have family and marital issues including divorce, custody, adoption, child abuse, child support, and domestic abuse.
Family lawyers have the necessary education and experience to take care of such matters.
How to become a family lawyer
Likei every other kind of lawyer in the USA, to become a family lawyer requires an undergraduate degree in any academic area then a law school. The undergraduate degree will typically take 4 years to complete and the law school will take 3 years to complete as mentioned earlier.
on how long does it take to become a family lawyer, it will take 7 years, 4 years in undergraduates degree and 3 years in law school.
Who is an Immigration Lawyer?
Immigration lawyers help ro restore the individual rights of the immigrants who due to one issue or the other left their countries to other country.
The immigration lawyer is a lawyer or attorney that specializes in legal issues involving refugees, illegal citizens, and newcomers.
How to become an immigration lawyer
Becoming an immigration lawyer in the USA is thesame as to becoming a lawyer in the USA. It will take 4 years undergraduate degree, and 3 years J.D.
Once in law school, you can then take semester-long immigration law clinic or proceed to take a graduate degree program in Immigration law. The graduate program takes an additional 2 years.
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Who is Prosecutor Lawyer?
The prosecuting attorney or lawyer is the lawyer that represents the different levels of government in court. Hence, they stand for the local, state or federal government in court.
Their job duties involve trying cases, interviewing witnesses or victims, evaluating police reports, and performing legal research to plan the prosecution of each case.
Requirement for becoming a prosecutor
The requirements to become a prosecuting lawyer in the USA is the same for most types of layers in the USA. So, the total time it’ll take you to become a prosecuting lawyer is 7 years. $ years of undergraduate education and 3 years of law school.
While the undergraduate degree is not specific to any academic area, it should offer courses that’ll improve your reading, writing, and critical-thinking skills.
Upon graduating from college, you should apply for law school and pass the LSAT. At law school, you’ll gain core knowledge of law such as contracts, torts, and civil procedure. Meanwhile, in your final half of law school, you’ll be able to take topics towards your specialization. You may want to consider studying criminal law to prepare you for a career as a prosecuting lawyer.
After graduating from law school with a J.D, you then have to sit for and pass the Bar Exam. This would provide you the backing to practice as a prosecuting lawyer in your state.
So in all, it takes 7 years to become a prosecuting lawyer. 4 years for a bachelor’s degree and 3 years for a J.D.