How Many Years of College Does It Take to Be a Lawyer

by Richard Morgan - Updated September 26, 2017
Lawyers invest about 10 years of schooling in their careers.

Before attending law school, applicants must first complete a bachelor’s degree in college, which usually takes four years. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, the potential lawyer has to obtain a Juris Doctor degree, which takes three years. At that point, applicants have to take the Law School Admission Test and have high enough scores to be considered for admittance to a law school.


The cost of becoming a lawyer is quite high. In addition to the cost of obtaining both a Bachelor of Arts Degree as well as a Juris Doctor, there is the actual cost of enrolling in a law school. While there can be a huge difference between schools in terms of cost (ranging from $1,500 per semester to $12,000 per semester), there is little doubt that it is an expensive undertaking. To help offset the cost of becoming a lawyer, there are various scholarships and grants available.


After successfully completing the required college courses and getting the necessary degrees, applicants can then apply for admission to a law school. In addition to the necessary LSAT score, other factors can either assist or hurt a potential applicant’s admission chances. Recommendations from teachers can be helpful, as well as having a work history related to the law, such as working in a law firm or having credentials as a paralegal.

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Law School

Many lawyers enjoy both respect and financial security. The road to becoming a lawyer, however, is not an easy one, and it requires both dedication and years of schooling. In addition to at least seven years of college, there are also years of law school involved in becoming an attorney, usually at least three years for full-time students and four years for part-time students.

College Courses

Despite an actual lack of any pre-law courses to study, potential lawyers can serve themselves well by making sure that the courses taken in college emphasize skills that will be useful as an attorney. For example, having courses that are strong in reading and writing are important, as much of the law involves reading case histories and preparing briefs and courtroom statements. In addition, if a student is interested in a potential niche aspect of law (such as business law), it would be helpful to have a strong background in college courses related to that field of interest. Any courses that strengthen analytic and logic skills would also be helpful for preparing the college student for the road ahead to becoming a lawyer.

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