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Do You Need a Degree To Be a Lawyer?

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Many people wonder "do you need a degree to become a lawyer"? When researching whether you need a degree to become a lawyer, you will want to find out what the requirements are in the state or country you live in, or want to live in. Each state has its own licensing requirements which may or may not include the requirements for a degree.

  • Law schools are generally post-graduate educational institutions, similar to medical schools. What that means is that in order to gain admittance to a law school, in most states you will also need an undergraduate college degree first, which usually requires 4-5 years of undergraduate education resulting in a Bachelor’s degree of some kind.
  • You do not have to take law courses or get a degree in law or criminal justice, but since law schools are so competitive, they will look carefully at your undergraduate grades. Most states in the United States will require you to have obtained a law degree from an accredited law school and most employers will also look at where you went to school.
  • Most law schools in the United States can be completed in 3 years and some will allow you to obtain a dual degree in another area, extending it to 4 or 5 years. For example, you can obtain a joint law/MBA degree in 4 years. A Juris Doctor degree is the traditional law degree obtained via completion of law school. Some law schools also offer L.L.M. degrees which are geared more toward teaching than practicing.
  • Whether or not your state requires a degree, college courses and specifically law school courses will teach you how to “think like a lawyer” and teach you the writing skills you need to be a good lawyer and be successful. These skills are imperative in the practice of law.

Keep in mind that each state will have its own requirements and they may offer some exceptions to the standard requirements, so when researching whether you need a degree to become a lawyer in your state, you should contact your state's bar association for the specific requirements.

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