How to Become a Criminal Defense Lawyer

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Criminal law is a branch of law that focuses on criminal acts and the necessary punishment. Criminal defense lawyers specialize in criminal law and they represent individuals that are accused of crimes.


Hey, I'm Joshua T. Osborne

In 2015, I said goodbye to 16-hour days and hauling boxes up and down stairs for a living (I was a mover). I became a full-time entrepreneur, and I made my money by helping business owners make money.

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What does a criminal defense lawyer do?

Defense lawyers handle a variety of cases that involves individuals being accused of many different types of crime related to robbery, drugs and alcohol, assaults, fraud, and murder. They obtain the necessary information and evidence to build their case and try to receive the best possible outcome for their client. They act as advisors for their client and provide professional legal advice regarding legal rights and their choices about bargains, pleas, and offers. They represent their client in criminal trials, hearings, police interrogations, and depositions and make sure their legal rights are safeguarded. Criminal defense lawyers also prepare the necessary documents and paperwork for hearings, trials, and indictments.

What kind of training does a criminal defense lawyer need?

Criminal defense lawyers must have a bachelor degree and law degree. All law schools that are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) require students to receive a satisfactory score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to become accepted. Law school provides intensive classroom and hands-on instruction. Most law schools require students to complete an internship before graduation. Many aspiring criminal defense lawyers complete internships or volunteer experiences at law firms that specialize in criminal law. All states require criminal defense lawyers to become licensed by passing the written bar examination. Criminal defense lawyers must complete regular continuing legal education to maintain their licenses, keep their skills current, and stay up to date with advancements and changes in criminal law.

What are the prospects for a career as a criminal defense lawyer?

Employment of all lawyers, including criminal defense lawyers is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 13% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growing population and increase in criminal acts will drive job growth of defense lawyers.

Job prospects should be good with strong competition. Criminal defense lawyers with great academic records and extensive experience will have the best job opportunities.

How much do criminal defense lawyers make?

As of January 2010, the average annual salary for criminal defense lawyers is $74,000; average annual defense lawyer salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a criminal defense lawyer is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in representing a variety of clients that have been accused of crimes. Criminal defense lawyers must have a solid understanding of criminal law. Patience, perseverance, self-confidence, analytical thinking, and good problem solving skills are necessary characteristics. Criminal defense lawyers must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to interact with many different clients and legal professionals. They must be assertive and have the ability to effectively argue their cases in front of judges and juries.

Joshua T Osborne

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