A criminal defense lawyer specializes in criminal law and acts as a representative for individuals that are accused of crimes. These crimes can be related to drugs and alcohol, robbery, fraud, assaults, and murder. They prepare necessary legal documents and paperwork needed for hearings, trials, and indictments. They are their clients’ legal counsels during police interrogations, hearings, criminal trials, and depositions and make sure their legal rights are safeguarded.
Becoming a criminal lawyer is a lengthy process. One must complete a 4-year undergraduate degree before attending a 3 to 4-year law school program. The undergraduate program should include courses that emphasize analysis, spoken and written communication skills, research, and logical thinking. Law schools provide intensive in-class and hands-on instructions. Coursework for a law degree will comprise of constitutional law, civil procedure, legal writing, and other core components. The last two years of law school will be spent learning the chosen area of specialty in law and gain practical experience.
Aspiring criminal defense lawyers must also complete internships at law firms that specialize in criminal law before graduating. Further, criminal defense lawyers have to take a government exam facilitated by a government regulated agency to get their licenses. After which, they are will be required to complete regular continuing education to maintain their licenses, keep their skills up to date, and be informed in the advancements and changes in criminal law.
Criminal defense lawyers are employed by governmental agencies and are often referred to as public defenders. Some criminal defense lawyers choose to do private practice and are retained by clients on a case by case basis.
Employment of all lawyers, including criminal defense lawyers is expected to increase by 13% until 2018. The growing population and increase in criminal acts will propel job growth of criminal defense lawyers.