How Long Do You Have to Go to School to Be a Lawyer?


Becoming a lawyer is a prestigious and rewarding profession, but it requires several years of education and training. If you’re wondering how long do you have to go to school to be a lawyer, this comprehensive guide breaks down the steps, requirements, and timeline.

Educational Pathway

1. Undergraduate Degree (4 years)

To become a lawyer, you’ll first need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. It usually takes 4 years to complete. Common majors include Political Science, History, or English, though any major can be acceptable. Check university websites for course information.

2. Law School (3 years)

After completing a bachelor’s degree, the next step is law school. You’ll spend approximately 3 years earning a Juris Doctor (JD) degree. More information on law schools and their admission criteria can be found at the American Bar Association’s website.

3. Bar Examination Preparation (Several months)

Preparing for and passing the bar examination is essential to practice law. Various bar preparation courses are available to help you succeed.

Total Time Required

In total, you’ll spend about 7 years in formal education, plus several months preparing for the bar exam, to become a lawyer in the United States.

Additional Requirements

Besides education, other requirements include:


Q: Can I practice law without a Juris Doctor degree?

A: No, a JD degree is required to practice law. Information on JD degrees can be found at law school websites.

Q: How difficult is the bar exam?

A: The bar exam is known to be challenging. Comprehensive information can be found on the National Conference of Bar Examiners website.

Q: Can I practice law in another state?

A: Licensing varies by state, and you may need to pass a different bar exam. Check with the specific state bar association.

Q: Are online law schools acceptable?

A: Some online law schools are accredited, but it’s important to verify their status at the American Bar Association.


Understanding how long you have to go to school to be a lawyer helps in planning and pursuing this highly regarded career path. It involves years of rigorous education, examination, and practical experience. Make sure to consult official sources like universities, the American Bar Association, and state bar associations to tailor your education to your specific career goals.