How many years of education does a criminal lawyer need?

If you’re looking to enter the criminal justice field, you’ve probably heard of the term “criminal lawyer.” It’s a fancy name for someone who defends people accused of crimes in court. And if you want to become one yourself, it can take years or even decades of education to earn your licence to practise Law and continually work with an accredited criminal defence law firm. Here’s what you will need to become a practising criminal lawyer. 

You need to have 4 years of undergraduate degree

You need a four-year bachelor’s degree to be a criminal lawyer, after which you must take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to enter a law school.

You also need 3 years of Juris Doctor degree

For those interested in a criminal law career, you will need three additional years to get your Juris Doctor (JD) degree. The JD is the professional doctorate equivalent to an LLB degree in Law, and you can do it after three years of study at an accredited law school.

You will also need to pass the state bar exam

The state bar exam is the final step in becoming a lawyer. This exam is composed of both oral and written portions. If you pass this test, you can officially become a criminal attorney after obtaining the licence to practise Law. 

Lastly, you will need a licence to practise Law

To become a lawyer, you must obtain a licence to practise Law after completing your law education and passing your state bar exam. The licensing requirements vary depending on your state and what type of attorney you want to be (i.e., criminal, civil or family).

To become licensed in any state, you must take and pass the bar exam after graduating from law school or completing another post-graduate program that prepares students for taking the bar exam. Although there are several different ways to prepare for this test (including online courses), most people opt for traditional preparation methods at their local law schools or community colleges.

It takes at least seven years to become a criminal lawyer

It takes at least seven years to become a criminal lawyer. The first step is to get your undergraduate degree, which can be done in four years, depending on the school and its reputation. After completing your undergraduate studies and your JD degree of 3 years, you will have to pass the bar exam before becoming licensed to practise as a lawyer.

If you’re interested in becoming a criminal attorney, you will also need to work with a criminal defence firm to polish your skills and put your knowledge to action. 


The study of criminal Law is a fascinating and rewarding career path. The academic rigour, combined with the opportunity to work in a field that directly affects people’s lives, makes this type of law school an excellent choice for students who want to pursue their education beyond undergraduate or graduate studies which takes about seven years.