How Long is Law School, and What is Law School Like?
Deciding to go to law school is a big decision and a significant undertaking. Two of the most common questions people considering law school pose are, “How long is law school?” and “What is law school like?” We‘ll start with those questions here to help you get closer to a decision.
How Long Is Law School?
Most law school programs are three years long. You will need to follow the curriculum set forth by their law school, at the pace they have designated—meaning that the program duration depends on the school. Some law schools, such as Regent University, offer an accelerated program.
The accelerated program allows students to take more classes each year, generally by offering shorter sessions or semesters, in order to be able to finish the course curriculum in fewer than three years. Be advised that the faster pace of accelerated programs requires an extra measure of motivation, commitment and fortitude. Therefore, acceptance requirements are often much greater.
During the standard three years of law school, a student will complete an average of 90 credit hours to graduate. Sixty-four of those credit hours have to be from regularly scheduled courses with direct faculty instruction. Advisors help students set up their schedules to ensure they’re taking the correct amount of credits each semester to be able to meet the requirements for graduation.
What Is Law School Like?
A law degree is notorious for being one of the most challenging degrees to obtain. The majority of the programs focus on teaching problem-solving skills to help students understand legal implications, and thus be able to present strong arguments on behalf of their client’s best interest. This skill is taught in many classes, such as:
- Constitutional Law
- Contracts and Sales
- Criminal Law
- Criminal Procedure
- Real Property
- Civil Procedure
Also, depending on the state where you take the bar exam, you might take additional classes that have to do with:
- Family Law
- Trusts and Estates
- Business Associations
- Secured Transactions
Professors often use a Socratic method, which involves calling on a student at random to answer a question or engage in a discussion. The professor not only grades on how you answer the question and engage but how you posture yourself while participating.
A lot of the work you do in law school requires that you read, comprehend, and apply a variety of logical processes and analyses. One especially unique characteristic about studying law is that you first need to learn how to learn. Once you’ve gained this skill, you can then master the information.
One aspect of law school that students enjoy is the experiential part of it. Clinics, internships and externships provide a real-life look into the world of law. A licensed attorney supervises many of these learning opportunities.
Casebooks are a standard method of teaching legal writing. Many students who enter law school aren’t expecting this, and they find this style to be very difficult. The language is much different, so it takes time to understand it.
Alternative Options for Law School
The American Bar Association doesn’t accredit online Juris Doctor programs. However, some law schools offer blended or partially online programs. Students may take online courses (self-paced) for 12 weeks, and then visit campus a certain number of times during the program for skills-based classes. This can help those who are working full time and need flexibility in obtaining their law degree.
Part-time Juris Doctor degree programs are also available through institutions such as Regent University. These allow professionals to continue working full-time and complete their law program requirements outside of their working hours.
How to Decide What’s Right for You
You’ll need to consider these questions when deciding whether to pursue your Juris Doctor:
- Are you ready to dive into a 3-year time commitment?
- Do you have a plan for financing your degree, and have you looked into financial aid?
- Are you committed to pursuing a law career path?
When the passion is there, you’ll find the impetus to work through the most challenging parts of the program. Be sure to know your “why” as you pursue your goal and a future in a prosperous legal career.
Let Us Know When You Are Ready to Take Your Next Step
Regent’s Juris Doctor (J.D.) law degree, presented from a Christian worldview, is academically excellent and competitive with law schools nationwide. We will prepare you to become an excellent lawyer — one who is thoughtfully educated in the law, thoroughly trained in legal skills, and professionally formed to provide meaningful, caring counsel to your clients and others.
Regent University’s admissions counselors are ready to answer questions and help you work through financial aid so you can move ahead in this promising field. Whether you’re ready to take the leap, or simply want some more information, you can reach them at 877.267.5072.