Getting a JD
The credential for becoming a lawyer is the Juris Doctor (J.D.). The J.D. requires a rigorous course of study in a competitive environment for three years of full-time study. Part-time J.D. programs take longer or include summer study. Law schools generally require entering students already to have a bachelor's degree; the schools accept applicants from a wide variety of majors, and seek students who have well-developed writing, reading, analytic and research skills. It is advisable for students who intend to apply to law school to take a broad range of courses which develop and demonstrate these skills. Most law schools (there are a few exceptions) accept students for fall admission only. They begin to consider applicants in early fall for admission to the class that will enter the following fall.
Law school provides generalist training. During the first year, all students are required to take certain courses, typically including: contracts, torts, property, criminal law, civil procedure and legal writing. Constitutional law and corporations are often also required or recommended. In the second and third years, students can generally choose all or most of their courses. Courses offered by law schools include: administrative law, civil litigation, commercial law, evidence, family law, tax, professional responsibility, trusts and estates and international law as well as many others. While many schools offer special programs in a particular area of legal practice (such as international law, intellectual property, corporate governance, etc.), students are not necessarily required to select an area of specialization.