Table of Contents
- Is Becoming an Attorney Hard?
- How Long Does it Take to Become a Lawyer in the US?
- What’s the Difference Between a Lawyer and an Attorney?
- Is it Too Late to Become a Lawyer at 26?
- What to Study to Become a Lawyer
Becoming an attorney is a challenging task that requires an immense amount of hard work, discipline and dedication. The educational requirements to become an attorney are steep and require years of study. The American Bar Association (ABA) outlines the legal education requirements for attorneys, which include law school and the bar exam. It is important to note that law school is not the same as becoming a lawyer; rather, it is the first step in the long process of becoming an attorney.
The amount of hard work required to become an attorney will depend largely on the individual and their commitment to their goals. Some individuals may find the process easier than others, but everyone must make a sustained effort over many years to become an attorney. Additionally, individuals must be willing to put in the time and dedication to studying, researching and writing during their law school years.
In the United States, the time it takes to become a lawyer can vary depending on individual circumstances. Generally, it takes seven to eight years from beginning law school to becoming an attorney. This includes four years of undergraduate school (or three years if already in possession of a bachelor’s degree), three years at an ABA-accredited law school and passing the bar exam in the state of intended practice. The bar exam is generally taken after law school graduation, though in some states it can be taken during a student’s last semester.
The terms “lawyer” and “attorney” are often used interchangeably, but they do not refer to the same thing. A lawyer is an individual who has gone to law school but has not yet taken and passed the bar exam, and so is not yet an attorney. An attorney, on the other hand, is an individual who has gone to law school and has also taken and passed the bar exam, and so is eligible to practice law.
No, it is not too late to become a lawyer at 26. Although it is generally recommended that individuals begin their legal education as soon as possible in order to become an attorney sooner, individuals of any age can begin the process of becoming a lawyer. Depending on individual circumstances, it may take slightly longer for someone starting the process at age 26 to become a lawyer, but it is certainly possible.
The first step to becoming a lawyer is to complete an undergraduate degree. While law schools do not generally require a specific undergraduate degree, it is beneficial to select a major that will help prepare individuals for a legal education. Such majors include history, political science, philosophy, English and economics. Those who already possess a bachelor’s degree may choose to take a pre-law program, which covers some of the core topics in law school and can help prepare individuals for the rigors of law school.
Once they have completed an undergraduate degree, individuals must attend and graduate from an ABA-accredited law school. During their time in law school, individuals will be exposed to a wide variety of legal topics, including constitutional law, contracts, torts, criminal law, civil procedure and legal writing. Additionally, they will be required to complete a number of clinical and externship programs to gain hands-on legal experience.
Upon graduating from law school, individuals must take and pass the bar exam for the state in which they intend to practice law. The bar exam is a comprehensive exam that tests individuals on a variety of topics, including contracts, criminal law, torts and legal writing. After passing the bar exam, individuals will be licensed to