In the U.S., it takes about 7 years to become a lawyer; the times vary from state to state due to various bar rules and regulations. You need a Bachelor’s degree before attending law school for 3 years. A Bachelor’s degree takes about 4 years to complete, and you apply to lots of law schools a year before you plan to attend. In order to be considered for admission to law school, you must first write and pass the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).
Once you have your Bachelor’s degree and have completed law school, you need to write your state’s bar exam for admittance. Usually, law school finishes in May or June and you take the summer to study for the Bar exam. There are courses that specifically teach you how to write the exam. In some states, you can be practicing law as soon as October of the same year.
In Canada, you aren’t admitted to the Provincial Bar until approximately 2 years after completion of your law degree. One year is spent articling; working for a law firm as a student lawyer and provincial bar have a limited amount of sittings per year. In addition, the individual provinces have their own formal education to be admitted to the bar.
For either country, it is a long haul. For people with law degrees froma foreign country, there is a whole set of criteria that must be met before practicing law is allowed; criteria vary according to which country your degee comes from.