Can You Become a Lawyer in the USA without Getting a degree?

The United States is one of the few countries that allows individuals to become lawyers without a law degree. Many people dream of becoming lawyers but feel they cannot afford law school or do not have the time to attend. Thankfully, there are still ways to become a lawyer, even if you do not have a law degree.

Although it may be possible to become a lawyer in the United States without getting a law degree, obtaining an LLM or J.D. is still far more common. You can become licensed without getting your law degree, but you will not practice law in many jurisdictions. Instead, you will need to find another career that works around your legal education and training.

Often, you hear stories about people getting sucked into law school and losing their souls. It may seem too good to be accurate, but it can be a terrible experience. As a result, we have such a wide range of opportunities available to us to follow our passion for becoming whatever we want in our modern times.

Can you become a lawyer without getting a degree? 

Whether or not you plan on becoming a lawyer does not necessarily mean you must attend law school. In the United States, you can rarely participate in law school for three years. Only in four states which include California, Virginia. Vermont, Washington, you can become a lawyer without having a law degree.

It is usually a requirement to practice law in the U.S. to possess a Juris Doctor degree (J.D.) and pass a state bar examination and earn a license. There are, however, states where you must first pass the state bar exam before taking the state bar exam.


Apprentices in this program must work and study at least 30 hours per week and supervise three hours per week with their supervising attorney. Their supervising attorney must have a minimum of ten years of experience in the legal field. It is a requirement that they pay $1,500 per year toward their annual fees.


The study of law requires a minimum of four years under the supervision of an experienced lawyer with three years of experience in a law firm.


Students in law offices study for three to five years, each year containing at least 40 weeks of study, with a minimum of 25 hours of study each week. The supervising attorney’s office must be where at least 18 hours each week are spent, with at least three hours of personal supervision of the law reader each week provided by the supervising attorney. 

As a general rule, the supervising attorney needs to have at least a year of experience before supervising an apprentice. Furthermore, the apprentice cannot be employed or compensated by the supervisor.


Students are required to work for at least four years in a law office under the supervision of an attorney with at least five years of experience practicing law in California. Eighteen hours per week of direct control are necessary, plus monthly exams and bi-annual progress report filed with the California State Bar. 

Requirements to Become a Lawyer in USA

As an apprentice, you should expect to spend a certain number of hours in the office each week so that you can gain real-world experience. It will take some time for you to learn and work in the office under the supervision of an attorney. The mentor attorney must meet a minimum requirement of three years of legal experience in Vermont and a minimum of ten years in the state of Virginia.

California requires students to sit for the First-Year Law Students’ Examinations before sitting for the actual bar examination. A test like this is challenging, has a low passing rate, and can be a significant challenge.

Bachelor’s Degree Usually Required to Become a Lawyer

As prospective law students consider their educational options, they should consider two barriers to becoming lawyers. The first obstacle is the legal school entrance requirement. In addition, each state has its conditions for becoming a lawyer. Students may be admitted to law schools even if they do not hold a bachelor’s degree. Other state bars require an undergraduate degree, although the Michigan State Bar does not. An undergraduate degree will thus limit the career options available to a student.

Advantages of Being a Lawyer

Going to law school is a huge decision and not one that you should take lightly. For the most part, it’s an enormous financial burden with uncertain returns. Most lawyers work at large firms for the first five years, which are often referred to as “bar hell” or “meat grinder” years. You will get no work experience during this time because all you do is grunt work for partners who are billing clients at $1K per hour.

Disadvantages of Being a Lawyer

Law school is one of the most popular career paths for students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree, but it has disadvantages. The first issue that students usually face when deciding to skip law school is time. Law school takes three years of your life. There are ways around this, though, for example, by taking night classes or online classes that allow you to work during the day and study at night. Another disadvantage is cost. Although most law schools offer scholarships or grants, they don’t compare to the money you would make as an attorney fresh out of law school.


Becoming a lawyer in the U.S. can be incredibly difficult, especially if you don’t have a college degree. If you do not have the time or money to go back to school, other options are available for you. You might consider taking online courses or getting your law license without graduating from law school.

In this article, we’ve discussed the common misconceptions about whether you can become a lawyer in the U.S. without completing law school. While it may seem like a challenging task, there are various ways to become a lawyer without going through the traditional law education route. Which do you think is the best option?

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