What is a JD?

A JD is defined as Juris Doctor and serves as the first professional law degree required to practice law in the United States. The JD degree is offered by law schools approved by the American Bar Association (ABA), by law schools that are not ABA-approved, and by many Canadian schools.

For more information, visit https://www.lsac.org/discover-law/types-law-programs/jd-degree-programs

What is required for admission into a JD program?

In general, law schools require a bachelor’s degree, an accredited LSAT score, a personal statement, and several recommendations to be considered for admission into a JD program. Some law schools may require an interview as part of their admissions process and/or prefer work experience.

To learn more about the specific requirements of various law schools, visit “Member Schools’ Admissions Pages” under the Prospective Law Students menu on this site.

What are the Bar Exam Requirements?

Each state has different requirements and rules for admission to practice law in the state. All U.S. states accept graduation from an ABA-approved law school as meeting that state’s education requirement for eligibility to sit for the bar examination. Graduates that pass their state’s bar exam are then given a license to practice law in that state. Law schools assist students with understanding the requirements to sit for a particular state’s bar exam.

For specific details about bar exam admission requirements: http://www.ncbex.org/publications/bar-admissions-guide/

What is an LLM?

A Master of Laws degree (LL.M.) is an advanced law certification. It is an academic program that attracts many international students who wish to gain global credentials as well as JD graduates who desire advanced legal study or specialization in a particular field of law.

LL.M programs do not require candidates to take the LSAT in order to apply; however, a first degree in law, such as, but not limited to, a JD, is required for admission into an LL.M program. LL.M programs often require an English proficiency exam score for international applicants whose native language is not English.

For more information, visit https://www.lsac.org/discover-law/types-law-programs/llm-degree-programs

What can you do with a JD?

A JD degree prepares graduate to think analytically, read closely and solve problems. JD graduates hold a wide range of opportunities upon receipt of their degree.

While most grads will work in private law firms or as solo practitioners, many will work for the government or in the public interest.

For more details about the opportunities a JD offers, visit: https://www.nalp.org/uploads/Classof2019SelectedFindings.pdf

Where can I get a job after law school?

Law school graduates are not limited to traditional legal jobs upon graduation: while many take the traditional track and practice law, many JD recipients go on to do work outside of the legal sector.

Careers outside law practice include governmental work, politics, non-profit firms, in-house corporations, finance, investment banking, consulting, higher education, administration, journalism, and academia (see Becoming a Law Teacher on this website). Also, many graduates go on to start their own businesses.

To learn more about job prospects for lawyers, visit: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/lawyers.htm

How much does law school cost?

Tuition for law school may range anywhere between a few thousand dollars to over $50,000 a year, in addition to living and other expenses. Ultimately, law school costs are calculated on a case-by-case basis. Factors that influence the cost of a legal education include whether the institution is private or public, the school’s geographic location, the amount of financial or merit aid the applicant receives, and whether the applicant is awarded any scholarships or grants.

To calculate projected total costs for a legal education at any U.S. Law Institution, visit:


What can I do to prepare for a JD program?

JD programs typically demand intensive critical reading and writing requirements, as well as organizational and problem solving skills, research experience, and strong oral communication. Experience and coursework that helps students develop and improve these skills will greatly prepare them for the vigorous coursework in a JD program.

While law schools generally accept any bachelor’s degree from their applicants, certain majors, such as political science, history, criminal justice, or philosophy, among others, will better prepare future law students for the rigorous reading and writing intensive courses in law school.

Additionally, work experience, background knowledge, and exposure to the law will prepare students to succeed in a JD program.

For more information about preparing for a JD program, visit: http://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/pre_law.html

How long is law school?

Generally, the JD program consists of a full-time academic course-load spanning three years. However, the length of law school varies depending on the path law students chose to take. In addition to the traditional three year track, several accelerated and joint-degree programs are available.

Many students chose to enroll in 2-year accelerated programs, where they start classes earlier, take special courses over the summer, and are typically allotted one summer off to take an internship. Other programs include 4-year joint or dual-degree programs that allow students to save time by foregoing the traditional 5-year track for the two individual degrees. Other schools offer part-time and online J.D. programs that tend to take 4 years or more to complete.

How is law school different from other graduate/professional programs?

Law schools traditionally prepare students for careers in law, although the skills acquired in law school are valuable in other fields as well. Coursework and training are rooted in traditional disciplines, but emphasize application for the real world. Most law schools require extensive internship or on-the job training in order to graduate.

Should I consider a joint degree?

Joint degrees have become very popular options for both law and graduate students, allowing them to receive two degrees in less time than it would take to earn both degrees sequentially. Typically, students earn dual degrees in four years, saving themselves one year of study that the traditional 5-year, two degree track requires. Joint-degrees are available in nearly every field, depending on the designated law school, including JD/MBA, JD/MPH, JD/LLM, JD/MPP, and JD/PHD programs, to name a few.

What distinguishes law schools from each other?

Many factors distinguish law schools from one another, including the size of their alumni networks, the specialization and unique programs that they offer, as well as their successful job placements for their graduates. Law schools differ in terms of their career services, student programs, accredited programs, faculty, as well as their ability to provide students with internships, externships, and real-world experiences. Student to faculty ratios, the types of centers and clinics, and the number of dual degree and accelerated programs also distinguish law schools from one other.

Rather than looking solely upon rank, prospective students should identify which type of law they hope to practice, and choose the school that maintains the best programs, location, faculty, clinics, and internships in their desired specialization.

To learn more about the law school features to consider, visit: http://www.lsac.org/jd/choosing-a-law-school/law-school-features

As a foreign-trained lawyer, how is the JD/LLM different than the legal training available in my home country?

The Juris Doctor (JD) is the United States law degree that signifies that an individual has developed the analytical skills to assess a client’s legal problems, and to advise or to represent a client in the resolution of the problem. The Master of Laws (L.L.M.) is a specialized law degree typically pursued by practicing lawyers or those who have already earned another law degree, such as the JD.

According to the American Bar Association, students who received their law degrees in foreign countries may be eligible to sit for the bar exam based on the regulations of the state in which they wish to take the exam.

States that allow graduates of foreign law schools to sit for the bar exam may require proof of the following on a state-by-state basis: proof of legal education in English common law, additional education at an ABA-approved law school, practice of law in foreign jurisdiction, determination of educational equivalency, admission in another U.S. jurisdiction.

For more details on eligibility and other requirements, visit:  https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publications/misc/legal_education/2021-comp-guide.pdf