How to Become a Lawyer in France

Updated March 23, 2017

Studying law in France has many advantages. Higher education is, in general, less expensive than in the United States, and the quality of the universities is generally very high. Students who are considering becoming a lawyer in France should prepare themselves for the process, which is very different than in the U.S. The rigorous process of becoming a lawyer takes several years and requires several degrees and examinations.

Study French. Most legal education in France is based on the native language. The few programs that offer an English option are usually taught in both French and English and will require a high level of fluency in both languages.

Choose a program for your "license," which is roughly the equivalent of an American Bachelor's degree. The Campus France website, sponsored by the French government, can help you narrow down your options for the license and subsequent degrees you will need.

In France, law schools are part of larger universities. Unlike in the U.S., students usually go to law school right after high school and spend their first three years studying for their "license." Keep in mind that law schools may focus on the laws of their particular region in France.

Enrol in a Master of Law program. This Master's degree will take two years to complete, and specialises in a particular kind of law (public, private, international, etc). Students normally do an internship or research during the second year.

Enrol in a specific program to study for the bar. These programs (at institutions called the Centres Régionals de Formation Professionnelle d'Avocat, or CRFPA) are open to students who have finished the first year of their Master's degree. These programs usually last about a year and a half.

Take the exam to become a licensed lawyer (Certificat d'Aptitude à la Profession d'Avocat, or CAPA). Administrators at the CRFPA you attend can help you organise your registration and attendance at this exam.


It is extremely common for students to fail during their first few years at a French law school. However, these years can be repeated if necessary. You may be able to bypass the license with an equivalent foreign degree (usually four years of college work). Discuss this possibility with an administrator at the French school you wish to attend.

Things You'll Need

  • Valid passport
  • French language proficiency
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