The journey to becoming a lawyer is never an easy one. You have to meet certain criteria to practice law. And some of these requirements include, completion of undergraduate and graduate degrees, going to law school, passing the bar exams, and being given a license to practice as a lawyer. These requirements vary from country to country. Refer to this article to discover the requirements for becoming a lawyer in your country.
Law is a very lucrative profession around the world. Research shows that the median annual wage for Lawyers was $127,990 in May 2021. That means you can earn more than $200,000 annually, as a lawyer. If you’re thinking of going into the legal field in the United States, this post will guide you on how to become a lawyer.
Who is A Lawyer?
A lawyer or attorney is a person who has the license to practice law, whether as an advocate, attorney, barrister, or solicitor.
What Does A Lawyer Do?
A legal practitioner advises and represents their clients in court, manages properties as an attorney, and prepares legal documents for parties. In short, a lawyer acts as a mediator, a counselor, and an advocate in legal matters or proceedings.
How To Become A Lawyer In The U.S.A.
1. Get A Bachelor’s Degree
The minimum requirement for gaining admission into law school is getting a bachelor’s degree from a university accredited for law. Educational requirements vary across the world. In most states in the US, a requirement of a baccalaureate degree, followed by a professional doctorate in law, like a Juris Doctor or Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association is needed to become a lawyer. Only a few numbers of states in the USA accept US law degrees from unaccredited law schools.
2. Pass The Law School Admission Test
The Law School Admission Test is requisite for law school admission. The essence of this test is to examine the necessary skills needed for success in the first year of law school. In other to gain valuable insights into how prepared you are for law school, the LSAT is used to access your reading comprehension, reasoning, and writing skills.
Related: How to become a paralegal
3. Apply for law school and get a degree
After your graduation from the university, the next step to becoming a lawyer is to apply and gain admission into law school. In a country like the United States, prospective students are advised to only consider law schools accredited by the American Bar Association. In Nigeria, you gain admission to study law in any of the law schools accredited by the Council of Legal Education. Likewise, in some other countries.
In the USA, you need a Juris Doctor degree to practice law. Even the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Lawyers Handbook 2020) vividly stated that to even be eligible to take the bar exam, you first need a legal education. And the J.D is earned by completing law school. This is applicable to countries like the United States, Australia, Canada, and some other common law countries. In a state like California, a person can become an attorney without going to law school.
4. Pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination
The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) is a six-hour, 200-question multiple-choice examination developed by NCBE and administered by user jurisdictions as part of the bar examination on the last Wednesday in February and the last Wednesday in July of each year. The purpose of this exam is to assess the extent to which an examinee can apply fundamental legal principles and legal reasoning to analyze given fact patterns. In the U.S. it is a requirement for writing the bar exam in all but three U.S. jurisdictions (Maryland, Wisconsin, and Puerto Rico).
5. Pass the Bar Examination
Passing the bar examination is the final step to becoming a lawyer in the USA. In countries like Nigeria, you are only called to Bar if you have successfully passed the bar examination. That is the only time you will be given a license to practice law in Nigeria. Likewise in other countries like the United States of America. You need to pass the bar examination.
How long does it take to become a lawyer?
How long it takes to become a lawyer varies from country to country. In Nigeria, it takes about six (6) years to fully become a lawyer. You have to spend five (5) years in the University studying substantial law, and one (1) year in law school studying procedural law, making it a total of 6 years.
In the United States, it takes at least seven (7) years to become a lawyer. Four years of an undergraduate degree and a graduate law school degree of three years.
In the U.K. it will take you about five or six years to qualify as a solicitor. A three-year law degree, the SQE assessments and two years of qualifying legal work experience.
“In Canada, the first-level common law degree is the Juris Doctor or JD, which takes three years to complete. It is an undergraduate degree program, and not a graduate degree program, even though prior undergraduate education is required for entry.” Source: the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law.
Skills required to become a lawyer
- Active listening skill
- Logical reasoning/critical thinking
- Writing skills
- Ability to persuade
- Ability to argue
- Dispute resolution skills
- Negotiation skills
- Comprehension skills
- Reasoning or thinking faster
- Speaking skills