A Juris Doctor is a type of degree a person may pursue in law school. This professional law degree is typically granted in the United States, though schools in other countries may grant a similar type of degree. In order to become a lawyer in most parts of the United States, a person must usually earn a Juris Doctor and pass a lawyer licensing exam referred to as the bar exam. In most cases, a person studies for a Juris Doctor degree for about three years after earning a bachelor’s degree.
In just about every jurisdiction of the United States, a person must attend law school and earn a Juris Doctor in order to become a lawyer. A Juris Doctor program usually lasts about three years and introduces the student to a wide variety of laws, procedures, and legal concepts. In law school, a person may study criminal and civil law, tort law, and contract law. He may also take courses in both property and constitutional law. Additionally, a person who pursues a Juris Doctor degree may have an opportunity to choose law school electives that allow him to prepare for work in a specific legal field once he becomes a lawyer.
Though a person enrolls in a Juris Doctor program to prepare for a legal career, he cannot expect to learn everything there is to know about the law and becoming a lawyer from law school. Law is a vast subject with a large range of courses a person could study. Instead, a Juris Doctor program provides a foundation of legal knowledge a person can use once he becomes a practicing lawyer. This program also teaches an aspiring lawyer to think in legal terms.
Interestingly, aspiring lawyers did not always have to attend law school to become lawyers. In the early part of the 1900s, a person could become a lawyer in the United States by completing an apprenticeship program under an experienced lawyer. After working for a lawyer as an apprentice for a specific duration, which varied from state to state, a person could then obtain a license to practice law. Eventually, lawmakers established laws that required aspiring lawyers to obtain a degree in order to ensure that all lawyers had a standard education. In California, however, a person may still become licensed without earning this degree by studying law through a legal office’s or judge’s program.