State By State Requirements to Become a Lawyer

What is a JD Degree?

Anyone pursuing law will likely be interested in obtaining a Juris Doctorate degree or JD Degree. This is the highest education available in the legal profession in the United States and is considered a professional degree. The J.D. will prepare the student to take the state bar exam allowing them to practice law in their state. The Juris Doctorate degree is obtained by going to a law school that has been approved by the American Bar Association.

How to obtain a Juris Doctorate degree

There are different paths to take for the student wishing to enter law. One of the most common is first receiving an undergraduate degree in law or legal science, then pursuing a Juris Doctorate degree. The undergraduate degree doesn't have to be related to the law, however. Any undergraduate degree that prepares the student with an education that bears on the practice of law will do.

Many students, for instance, who have political or business aspirations, will often get their undergraduate degree in political science or business before entering law school. A lawyer will need to have excellent analytical and communication skills in order to succeed at the practice of law. There are many other skills that will help a student become an effective lawyer. It may be a good idea to confer with the student's choice of law schools for advice on which undergraduate degree would best prepare them for law school in their area of interest.

Once a student has completed their undergraduate degree, they will take the LSAT test in order to apply to law school. Once they have passed the LSAT they are able to go on to earn their Juris Doctorate. The Juris Doctorate program varies at each school as to the length and courses; there are standard guidelines, however. The average time is three years of full-time coursework in order to complete law school and earn a J.D. Once the Juris Doctorate is complete, the student is ready to sit for their state bar exam and receive their license to practice law.

View the requirements by state to become an attorney here.

Types of courses in the Juris Doctorate program

The purpose for a Juris Doctorate degree is to prepare the student with a well-rounded knowledge of the legal system and laws that govern it. The student will take general courses as well as core subject coursework that apply to their area of interest. Some students will pursue joint degrees of business or politics alongside their Juris Doctorate.

Some of the courses a student can expect to take in a J.D. program are:

  • Civil Procedures
  • Constitutional Laws
  • Contract Law
  • Torts
  • Courtroom Procedures
  • Criminal Law
  • Property and Real Estate Law
  • Civil Law
  • Public Law
  • International Law
  • Business Law

Students may also expect some form of internship, externship, or practicum. It is the belief of most educational institutions that practical hands-on experience will enhance the classroom knowledge gained during the program. Once a student graduates, there will be continuing educational requirements in order to maintain their state license.

 

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