How To Become a Lawyer
What Does a Lawyer Do?
Steps to Become a Lawyer
- Complete a Bachelor’s Degree Program
To apply to law school, you must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college or university. Your area of study does not have to be in any particular major; students who are successful in law school come from various educational backgrounds, including history, political science, philosophy and education.
- Take the LSAT or GRE
Completing the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a core requirement for getting into law school — here’s our study guide to help you prepare for the LSAT. Some law programs will allow you the flexibility to choose between taking the LSAT or the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). The results of your exam are used by admissions officers as an objective measure for assessing if you are a good fit for the university.
To learn more about the GRE vs. LSAT, visit our “GRE for Law School” page.
- Find a Law School
Next, you will want to find and apply for law schools. There is a lot to consider when choosing a law school, including location, student-to-faculty ratio, faculty and school reputation. No matter which school you choose, you will want to make sure that it is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA), meaning the school has been vetted by a panel of experienced lawyers to ensure it provides a high-quality legal education. In many states, if you do not attend an ABA-accredited school, you cannot take the bar exam.
- Earn a Juris Doctor Degree From an ABA-Accredited School
Once you apply and have been admitted to law school, you will work toward earning a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. Your experience will vary depending on where you attend school. Currently, there are more than 200 ABA-accredited law schools, most of which offer programs on campus, as well as a select few ABA-accredited law schools that allow students the flexibility to earn their J.D. degree online.
The Online Hybrid J.D. program at the University of Dayton is the third ABA-approved online hybrid degree program in the nation. The program prepares students to sit for the bar exam and pursue a career upholding the rule of law.
- Pass the Bar Examination
While the requirements to take the bar exam vary by state, most states require students to graduate from an ABA-accredited law school to sit for the exam. The exam is usually a two-day process, covering various legal matters, and comprises a variety of question types, including essays. In most states, once you pass the bar exam, you are officially qualified to practice law.
Skills Needed to Become a Lawyer
- Problem-solving and critical reading
- Writing, editing and researching
- Oral communication and listening
- Public service and promotion of justice
- Relationship-building and collaboration
Job Opportunities for Lawyers
Common Types of Attorneys
- Defense Attorneys – represent and defend the accused in a court of law
- Corporate Counsel – work for corporations, advising business executives on legal issues
- Environmental Lawyers – may work with advocacy groups or government agencies to advise on issues and regulations related to the environment
- Tax Lawyers – help navigate complex tax regulations on income, profit and property for individuals and businesses
- Intellectual Property Lawyers – deal with law related to patents, trademarks, inventions and creative works such as music, books and movies
- Family Lawyers – advise clients in a variety of legal family matters, including adoption, child custody and divorce