For aspiring attorneys, the path to becoming a lawyer is lengthy and often very challenging. Depending on the type of degree and the route taken, the process of becoming a lawyer requires between seven to nine years of dedicated study. The journey begins with an undergraduate degree, followed by a law degree, the bar exam, and then becoming a licensed attorney.
The first step on the journey to becoming a lawyer is to obtain a four-year undergraduate degree. The field of study can be anything that meets the student’s interests, however, many pre-law students pursue degrees in fields such as political science, business, or even paralegal studies.
Once the undergraduate degree is complete, the aspiring lawyer can enroll in an accredited law school and begin their studies towards a Juris Doctor (JD) degree. Most law schools require a minimum of three years of coursework, while some may require an optional fourth year. In the final year of law school, students may also pursue specialized courses in areas of their interest.
Once the JD degree is complete, the aspiring lawyer may then prepare to take the bar exam. The bar examination is a series of tests in which the student must prove their legal knowledge and skill. In many states, the bar exam is a two-day test that may take several hours to complete. Upon successful completion of the bar exam, the student then becomes a licensed attorney.
A lawyer’s career can be rewarding on many levels. In addition to the respect and financial compensation that come with the job, lawyers have the opportunity to help individuals, organizations, and businesses with their legal problems and with achieving justice.
Though the path to becoming a lawyer is long and demanding, the challenge is worth it for many aspiring lawyers. One famous lawyer who persevered against the odds was Thurgood Marshall. Marshall attended Howard University for his undergraduate degree and went on to attend law school at Howard as well. In 1933, Marshall became the first African American to pass the bar exam in Maryland. Marshall later went on to serve as a U.S Supreme Court Justice from 1967-1991.
Marshall’s story serves as an example of what is possible with dedication and perseverance. Even though the process of becoming a lawyer is lengthy and difficult, the rewards that come with the job make it an attractive and worthwhile career path.