Have you ever thought about becoming a lawyer? If you did, you probably are wondering how much does it cost to become a lawyer. The cost of attending a private law school is just under $50,000 a year. This is according to the annual survey by the U.S. News and World Report. The survey was completed on more than 197 law-related programs of study. If you decide to attend a public law school, it is considerably less if you are a resident of the state. Slightly higher, (but still less than private) if you are an out-of-state resident.
Why Become a Lawyer?
It takes an extreme amount of commitment to become a lawyer. In addition to the financial investment, taking and passing the bar exam, you will be facing some very arduous challenges. How much does it cost to become a lawyer is sometimes more than monetary. What motivates a person to become a lawyer can be any number of things. Some of these reasons are listed here:
A Bigger Paycheck
Of all the professionals within the legal field, lawyers are the highest-paid. Many attorneys earn well over the average salary nationwide. However, working in the public sector will not make as much money as working for a large firm does.
Feelings of Importance and Prestige
When one chooses to become a lawyer they are following a prestigious hallmark created over generations of men (and women). Acquiring a law degree is impressive and carries with it the authority of an elite group of professionals. These are people who demonstrate the description of what it is like to succeed. Lawyers appreciate exclusivity which requires respect and epitomizes success.
The Chance to Help Others
When you become a lawyer you will be in a position to aid many organizations, individuals, and other groups. Having a law degree will allow you the opportunity to do good things and make a difference in the legal community. If you choose to become a public interest attorney you can fight for legal issues to aid society. As well as offer assistance to individuals who cannot afford legal counsel.
A private practice lawyer will often offer low-income people their services pro bono. This is extremely helpful to the members of society such as domestic violence victims, the elderly, and children. Many attorneys are mandated by the bar to perform a set amount of annual pro bono hours.
With so many options to choose from once you become a lawyer; you will never be bored. You can choose to be a criminal defense lawyer, or work for a family law firm. If you like fighting for the underdog, there is a great need for defense attorneys. You can work in civil litigation, real estate, or employment law. There are so many options the legal industry is literally an oyster filled with opportunity.
Intellectually Challenging and Rewarding
You will soon discover that being a lawyer is most likely the most rewarding career a person can have. From developing the trade secret to a patent to creating the ideal strategy for trial. As a lawyer you will be expected to have solutions to problems and be an innovative thinker. Your intellect will constantly be challenged which makes being a lawyer much more than just a job.
Excellent Perks and Working Environment
Most lawyers are employed with the government, a corporation, or a law firm. The majority of office workers have a cubicle to work in. On the other hand, lawyers enjoy the luxury of a plush office with plenty of staff for support. Lawyers also have numerous perks that can be anything from box seats to sporting events or gym memberships.
Skills are Transferable
Holding a Juris Doctorate can open up many doors to opportunities. Even if you don’t choose to practice law with your degree, there are other opportunities for a career. Expertise established in law school prepares you for serving in other careers. Such as management, mediation, legal consulting, academia, and writing.
For hundreds of years, attorneys have been at the focal point of society. Lawyers are able to take positions as leaders and lawmakers. They are capable of holding elected government positions and to make court rulings and write laws. As a lawyer, you will be able to make an influential impact on world leaders and policymakers.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Lawyer?
Besides wondering how much does it cost to become a lawyer, you might, also, wonder how long it takes.
It can take anywhere from five to seven years to become a lawyer. The process to become a lawyer involves:
- Earning your Bachelor’s degree
- Taking the LSAT –Law School Admissions Test
- Going to law school
- Studying for and successfully taking the Bar exam
- Making an application for and accepting admission to the Bar Association
- Types of Lawyers to Choose From
When you decide to go back to school to become a lawyer, you first need to know how much does it cost to become a lawyer. While you are going to school you can decide what type of lawyer you want to be. There are several types of lawyers to choose from. You don’t have to decide on just one, you can change the field of law you want to work in as well.
If you are ever involved in a car accident, you will want to contact an automobile accident lawyer. This is a personal injury lawyer that can help you with collecting collision repair costs involved in the accident. This lawyer is also known as a personal injury lawyer. If you choose to do this you will be working to help clients collect compensation when they have been injured. As a personal injury lawyer, you might encounter a person who lost their hearing on the job and now has a hearing aid. Or, the young person who used to use vapes a lot now has long disorders.
Another popular lawyer is an estate planning attorney. This type of lawyer helps people draw up wills, trusts, and other financial contracts. As an estate planning attorney, you will be responsible for writing wills and other contracts to protect your clients’ assets.
As a family law attorney, you might have to deal with a woman coming to your office wearing sunglasses. Domestic violence is only one of the sensitive matters a family law attorney must deal with. When working with people and relationships, you have to be sensitive.
Costs Involved in Becoming a Lawyer
How much does it cost to become a lawyer? There are many costs involved in becoming a lawyer. Starting with tuition. Tuition is one of the biggest costs you will incur when you start out on your quest for your Juris Doctorate. Three years of law school can cost almost $100,000 for tuition. If you don’t have this much available cash–which most of us don’t–you have to take out a loan.
Even though you had to take out a big loan to pay your tuition, it will prove worth it. Once you become a practicing attorney you will be more than capable of paying it back. You will get an impressive rate of return on that expensive law school tuition.
You must rank in the top 10 percent of your class in law school in order to make a six-figure income. Those graduating in the lower 90 percentile have to take lower-paying jobs or start a private practice with lots of overhead. Trying to build a law practice from scratch as a new attorney is difficult. What makes it challenging is law school doesn’t teach us about the business of law practice.
A Break-Down of the Costs
The first and most important cost in how much does it cost to become a lawyer is your university education. Before going to law school, you must go to a university for at least four years to acquire your Bachelor’s degree. This costs an average of $19,000 a year. We can assume that your undergraduate studies will leave you in debt an average of $76,000.
As the proud recipient of a four-year degree (with an incredible debt) you now apply for law school. Tuition for law school is an average of $45,000 per year. You figure three years of law school at this amount is $135,000 plus the $76,000 for your Bachelor’s degree. You now have an educational debt of over $200,000. Is all this money really worth it?
The average cost of going to law school is extremely high. Before making this very competitive and expensive commitment, you need to ensure you can follow through.
Is It Worth It?
The results of a survey done on 4,000 adult postgraduates proved that only 23 percent felt their degree was worthwhile. Only 20 percent believed their education prepared them for life in the “real world”. Many law degree recipients say it was not worth it because of the poor job market availability. A person with a J.D. can expect to make just over $68,000 a year in the private sector. In the public sector that amount goes down to just over $50,000 a year.
Another reason J.D. holders were negative about their education and the way their professors treated them. Only 24 percent felt their professors care about them on an individual level. A mere 19 percent of graduates didn’t believe their professors offered any real encouragement in the pursuit of dreams and goals.
Can I Become a Lawyer without Law School?
Currently, there are four states in the United States that allow a person to take the bar without law school. These states are California, Vermont, Washington, and Virginia. People who wish to become a lawyer have another option. They can ask a judge or practicing attorney if they can complete an apprenticeship. This is an excellent option for someone who doesn’t know how much does it cost to become a lawyer. Or for someone without the time or finances to afford law school.
Is Law School Hard?
When we ask how much does it cost to become a lawyer one more question comes to mind. Is law school hard? The answer is yes. There are few other experiences you will experience in an educational sense that compares. Law school is rigorous, it takes commitment and endurance. There is a lot of stress involved in law school. However, depending on how attuned you are for the law and a legal career will determine how difficult it is for you.
You can save a little on how much does it cost to become a lawyer by taking an accelerated law course. This is an accelerated, Fast Forward JD program that shortens law school to two years. You take 17 units per semester and take 16 consecutive semesters. Instead of an internship over the summer, you continue your law classes. This program allows you to acquire your JD in only two years.
The Benefits and Versatility of Going Solo
As a fresh out of law school attorney, you have many options. You can apply for entry-level law clerk positions at some of the big law firms in your area. If you know how much does it costs to become a lawyer you want a better job than this. Or you can branch out and attempt to go at it alone. The latter is more challenging and expensive. You also stand the chance of failing your first attempt. You might also consider doing contract or temporary legal work.
Other Options with a 4-year Degree
If you don’t think how much does it cost to become a lawyer is worthwhile, you have other options with a 4-year university degree. You can use your Bachelor’s degree to go for a nursing degree and a travel nursing job.