Essential Information for Becoming a Lawyer
Becoming a lawyer is an intensive process that requires you to develop your reading, writing, researching and communication skills. It typically includes about four years of undergraduate study, preparing for and taking the LSAT or GRE exam, attending about 3-4 years of law school, and taking and passing the state bar exam. Some of these steps can even be completed online. The chart below illustrates the skill requirements for lawyers as well as salary and job growth outlook.
|Required Skills||Writing, researching, speaking, interpersonal skills|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)*||6%|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$120,910|
Source *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Steps to Become a Lawyer Online
While it is possible to earn your undergraduate degree online and your Juris Doctor (JD) degree in a blended online format, other steps, such as taking the LSAT and bar exam, cannot be done online.
Step 1: Earn an Online Bachelor's Degree
The first step to becoming a lawyer online is to earn an online bachelor's degree. There are many universities that offer online degree programs. While there is no requirement for the type of undergraduate degree you need to earn, a perspective lawyer could benefit from earning a degree in English, history, government, or economics, as the courses in these fields can help you develop the writing, reading comprehension, and critical-thinking skills you will need as a lawyer.
Step 2: Prepare for and Take the LSAT or GRE
Next, you will need to prepare to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). While some law schools only accept the LSAT, other schools will accept the GRE instead. The LSAT is a two-part test that consists of a multiple-choice exam and an essay question designed to assess your writing, analytical, logical reasoning, and critical-reading skills. The GRE measures your verbal, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing skills. While there are several online LSAT and GRE prep courses and materials that can help you study for these tests, you must take either one at an approved test center.
Step 3: Apply to Law School Online
Applying to law school can be a complicated process, but here are the most common application materials, which can be submitted online: an application, transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, a resume, and LSAT and/or GRE scores. Many law schools also take into account any extracurricular activities, work or life experience, and interpersonal skills you may possess.
Step 4: Earn an Online JD
Some JD programs offer hybrid formats that have live or asynchronous online classes and feature limited on-campus residencies or learning experiences. Over the course of your online JD program, you could take classes on such subjects as criminal law, civil procedure, torts, family law, and constitutional law. The length of your program will vary by university, but you can expect to earn your JD in 3-4 years.
Step 5: Prepare for and Pass the Bar Exam
To become a licensed lawyer, you will have to pass the bar exam in the state in which you are going to practice law. The bar exam generally lasts two days and includes the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), which is a 200-question multiple-choice test, on day one and a set of locally designed essays or a test like the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE) on day two. A character and fitness inquiry is also a part of the bar exam. It's important to note that requirements of the bar exam vary by state. Similar to the LSAT, there are several online resources and practice tests that can help you study for the bar exam.