How to Become a Lawyer in Pennsylvania: Education Requirements and Top Law Schools

Have you ever dreamed of advocating for justice and navigating the complexities of the legal world? Pursuing a legal career in Pennsylvania could be your ticket to a fulfilling and successful profession. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps on how to become a lawyer in Pennsylvania, from choosing the right law school to passing the bar exam, and provide valuable insights on building a thriving legal career in the Keystone State. Get ready to embark on a journey towards becoming a lawyer in Pennsylvania.

What you’re about to learn in this guide:

  • Obtain a bachelor’s degree, enroll in an ABA-accredited law school and pass the Pennsylvania Bar Exam to become a lawyer.

  • Prepare for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) with free study materials and dedicate time to studying.

  • Join the Pennsylvania State Bar Association for career enhancing opportunities, access to resources & reduced services.

Pathway to Becoming a Lawyer in Pennsylvania

The first step to becoming a lawyer in Pennsylvania involves obtaining a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Make sure the institution you choose has national accreditation to satisfy Pennsylvania law schools’ requirements. The journey continues with enrollment in an American Bar Association (ABA)-accredited law school, such as the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School or Pennsylvania State University. After three years of rigorous legal education, you’ll need to pass the Pennsylvania Bar Exam to practice law in the state.

Gaining practical experience during law school is vital, as it aids in the development of skills needed for your legal career. After your first year of law school, you may participate in internships or other off-site experiences, such as working at law firms or government agencies. By the time you graduate, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle the bar exam and embark on a successful legal career in Pennsylvania.

Earning Your Undergraduate Degree in Pennsylvania

Before stepping into the realm of law, securing an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution is necessary. While no specific major is required for law school admission, some areas of study may better prepare you for the legal field. A pre-law advisor can be invaluable in helping you select your major, minor, and electives to ensure success in law school.

Ensure your chosen college or university has regional or national accreditation, acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education. This accreditation is crucial for your future law school applications, as it demonstrates the quality of your educational background. Invest in your education now, and you’ll be one step closer to realizing your dream of becoming a lawyer in Pennsylvania.

Preparing for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a standardized test required for admission to most law schools, including those in Pennsylvania. The LSAT consists of multiple-choice questions that assess reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning skills. With the test available on a quarterly basis at various testing locations globally, you’ll have ample opportunities to showcase your abilities.

Preparation for the LSAT should include using available resources like the free study materials offered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). Dedicate ample time to studying and familiarizing yourself with the test format, which is conducted over a half-day period. With determination and the right preparation, you’ll be well-equipped to conquer the LSAT and move forward in your legal education journey.

Selecting the Right Law School in Pennsylvania

The selection of the right law school in Pennsylvania substantially influences your future legal career. Factors such as:

  • location

  • tuition

  • school size

  • test scores

should be considered when making your selection. Enrollment in a law school that complements your personal interests and objectives not only imparts quality legal education but also lays a strong foundation for a successful legal career.

Top Law Schools in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is home to some of the nation’s most esteemed law schools, offering outstanding placement opportunities, a diverse faculty, and state-of-the-art curricula. Some of the top law schools in Pennsylvania include:

  • University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School: consistently ranks among the T14 law schools and boasts a 93% bar passage rate on the first attempt.

  • Villanova Law School

  • Temple University Law School

  • Penn State Law School

  • Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law

These Beasley School offer a high-quality educational experience to their students in University Park.

Each law school offers unique features and strengths, such as Duquesne University School of Law’s highly ranked Trial Advocacy Program or the University of Pittsburgh School of Law’s scholarships for law students throughout all three years and recognition as one of the Best Value Law Schools. Choosing the best law school that aligns with your career goals and interests sets you on the path to a successful legal profession in Pennsylvania.

Navigating the Law School Experience

Law school is more than just attending classes and passing exams; it’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the legal community and develop practical skills. Take advantage of the resources and achievement programs available to law students, such as interdisciplinary centers, moot court competitions, and other extracurricular activities. These opportunities will not only help you gain hands-on experience but also allow you to interact with like-minded individuals and explore various aspects of the law.

Enhance your law school experience by actively pursuing experiential learning opportunities and engaging with professors. Participate in research, internships, and volunteer work to acquire a diverse range of experiences and perspectives that will prepare you for the challenges of the legal profession. By maximizing your investment in law school, you’ll be well-equipped to succeed in the competitive legal landscape.

Passing the Pennsylvania Bar Exam

The Pennsylvania Bar Exam is a critical milestone in your journey to becoming a lawyer in the state. Administered over two days, this exam tests your knowledge and understanding of various legal subjects. To pass, you’ll need to achieve a minimum score of 272. The exam is offered twice a year, in February and July, giving you ample opportunities to prepare and succeed.

For effective Pennsylvania Bar Exam preparation, make use of resources from the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners and test prep organizations like Kaplan and Barbri. Law schools typically offer bar exam preparation courses and reviews. Such courses provide invaluable resources to students who are preparing for the exam. With diligent preparation, you’ll be well on your way to passing the bar exam and launching your legal career in Pennsylvania.

Transitioning from law school to the legal profession requires gaining practical experience and establishing your career in Pennsylvania. The state offers numerous opportunities for lawyers, with an estimated 1,573 new jobs available annually from 2016 through 2026.

To maintain your law license, you’ll need to fulfill 12 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) annually, including one hour of ethics courses.

Networking and Professional Development

Networking and continuing education are crucial for career growth in the legal field. To expand your network, you can:

  • Attend relevant legal conferences and events

  • Join professional organizations like the Pennsylvania Bar Association

  • Participate in local bar association activities

  • Utilize online platforms like LinkedIn to connect with other legal professionals.

Continuing education is crucial to stay updated with the latest legal developments, acquire new skills, and maintain competitiveness in the legal profession. By actively engaging in networking and professional development efforts, you’ll not only enhance your legal expertise but also open doors to new opportunities and career growth.

Salary Expectations

As a lawyer in Pennsylvania, you can expect to earn an average salary of approximately $103,945 annually. However, your earnings can be influenced by various factors, such as:

  • Your practice area

  • Years of experience

  • Geographic location

  • Size of the law firm or organization you work for

While salary is an important consideration, remember that pursuing a legal career in Pennsylvania yields more than just financial rewards. The opportunity to advocate for justice, navigate complex legal issues, and make a difference in the lives of others is a fulfilling and rewarding experience in its own right.

Specializing in a Practice Area

Upon completion of your legal education and passing the bar exam, you have the option to specialize in specific practice areas like:

  • Corporate law

  • Employment law

  • Health law

  • Intellectual property law

  • Tax law

  • Litigation

This specialization enables you to focus on a particular area of law and develop in-depth expertise that can enhance your career prospects.

When choosing a practice area, consider your interests, abilities, and professional aspirations. Research the various practice areas, speak with attorneys in the field, and attend seminars and conferences to gather information on which specialization is the best fit for you. Specializing in a practice area can help you carve out a niche in the competitive legal landscape and contribute to a successful legal career.

Joining the Pennsylvania State Bar Association

Your legal career can significantly benefit from joining the Pennsylvania State Bar Association. As a member, you’ll have access to reduced-price services such as insurance, legal research, and office products. Additionally, the association offers networking and professional development opportunities that can help you expand your knowledge, build connections, and advance your career.

Belonging to the largest lawyer constituency in the state also provides you with access to a broader network of legal professionals and resources. By joining the Pennsylvania State Bar Association, you’ll not only enhance your career prospects but also contribute to the legal community and uphold the highest standards of the profession.


In conclusion, becoming a lawyer in Pennsylvania is a rewarding and fulfilling journey that requires dedication, hard work, and strategic planning. From choosing the right law school and acing the LSAT to passing the bar exam and building a successful legal career, this guide has provided you with valuable insights and resources to help you navigate the path to becoming a lawyer in the Keystone State. With persistence and determination, you can achieve your dream of advocating for justice and making a difference in the lives of others.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is law school in PA?

Law school in Pennsylvania typically takes three years to complete, consisting of six semesters of coursework at the University Park campus of Penn State Law. The first-year curriculum and certain upper-level courses are required, with all other courses being elective.

How many years does it take to become a lawyer near Pennsylvania?

It typically takes seven years of study to become a lawyer near Pennsylvania. After high school, prospective lawyers need to complete a four year bachelor’s degree and then must attend Penn State Law School in University Park for three years and six semesters to fulfill the J.D. Degree Requirements.

How much does it cost to become a lawyer in PA?

It typically costs between $11,000 and $48,000 to become a lawyer in Pennsylvania, depending on the law school you choose.

What is the hardest state to become a lawyer?

California is widely known to be the most challenging state to become a lawyer, with its low bar-pass rate and two-day exam.

What are the educational qualifications necessary to be a lawyer in Pennsylvania?

In order to be a lawyer in Pennsylvania, one must have a bachelor’s degree followed by a J.D. or L.L.B. degree from an ABA-accredited law school.

Scroll to Top