• Home  / 
  • How To Become A Criminal Defense Lawyer – Everything This Career Involves

How To Become A Criminal Defense Lawyer – Everything This Career Involves

criminal law bookcriminal defense lawyer represents the most popular category of law professionals. They are often referred to as public defenders. They can work as self-employed or for law firms, not to mention the government. After all, those lawyers given to defendants who can’t afford one are all criminal defense lawyers. 

What a criminal defense lawyer does

Criminal defense attorneys handle a wide variety of cases. As long as they’re related to a crime, they can easily change the outcome of a trial. They can represent individuals, organizations, and entities in court. Furthermore, the crime is irrelevant – sex, drug, domestic violence, fraud, theft or DUI crimes, among many others. Prior to the case, the criminal defense attorney will have to gather evidence and analyze a series of factors, such as witnesses and clues. Based on the crime, a trial might take years. For instance, proving someone innocent in a murder case is a tedious process that involves dozens of sessions.

How to become a criminal defense lawyer

There are multiple similarities between criminal defense lawyers and other categories of lawyers. In order to start working, they all need a Bachelor’s degree (in any random subject, yet a related subject would help), a law degree and the Bar examination. The criminal defense specialization is chosen in the law school. It’s an extremely diversified one, so it pays off gaining some experience before professing. Seminars and internships are excellent, even before graduation. Aspirants will spend time with experienced lawyers, but they’ll also go to court and become familiar with the atmosphere.

In order to profess, new graduates can go as self-employed, work for law firms or the government.

Pros and cons of being a criminal defense lawyer

Work continuity is the main reason wherefore more and more students choose this specialization. Crime is everywhere. It’s part of today’s society, so a criminal defense lawyer will always have something to do. Work continuity is highly connected with job security – another major plus. In terms of finances, it depends on each case and its gravity.

There are also drawbacks related to this specialization, such as dealing with potentially dangerous people or handling cases with a deep emotional impact.

Salaries of criminal defense lawyers

A criminal defense lawyer working as a public defender makes around $80,000 a year. Those with less than 5 years of experience don’t make so much money – up to $64,000. On the same, experienced lawyers with over 10 years of experience can go up to $90,000. Private defense lawyers are better paid and make $125,000 a year on average, with some of the best-paid professionals earning over $200,000. Apart from experience and working environment, the location is also important.


In the end, it’s worth noting that criminal low is a growing niche for an unfortunate reason – the rise in crime. As long as there’s crime around, these professionals will always be in high demand. Fortunately for lawyers, job security will come in quite handy when choosing this career.