How to Become a Lawyer

How to Be a Criminal Lawyer

Becoming a criminal lawyer can prove both challenging and exciting. Criminal attorneys specialize in defending criminals and can work as prosecutors or judges later in their careers.

A criminal attorney represents clients whom the courts have prosecuted for acts classified as crimes. These acts can include minor offenses such as petty theft or traffic violations, which usually involve punishment via fines; or serious offenses such as murders, rapes, armed robbery, assault and battery, which can result in many years of jail. The state or federal government usually files criminal lawsuits rather than the victim. A criminal attorney whom the court hires on a permanent basis is known as a public defender.

1. Criminal lawyers specialize as such after graduating from law school and taking the bar exam. However, if you wish to become a criminal attorney you need to develop some skills and habits at an early age. First, you will need good academic results in both high school and university or college.

2. Attend four years of university to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Law schools are considered post-graduate programs, and with a few rare exceptions you will need a Bachelor’s diploma to apply to law school. Make the best of your years in high school and college to develop skills you will need in your career as a criminal attorney. Take public speaking courses and join the debate club. You will need to have sold skills as a public speaker and have to know how to build strong arguments and counter arguments.

3. Prepare for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). All law schools approved by the American Bar Association require it as part of the admission progress, as it evaluates your skills and potential as a law student and practitioner of law.

4. You will face high competition for entering law schools, especially if you want to get into a prestigious school. Make a list of several law schools you like, but remain realistic about it. Assess you chances and make sure you meet all the requirements. Send application files to the law school or law schools of your choice within the specific deadlines.

5. You will have to complete three years of law school in a full-time program and then more years in a part-time program. The first year of law school usually teaches the basics of law and legal institutions, after which in the second and third years you can typically choose your courses. Attend those courses that will help you become a criminal attorney.

6. Graduate law school and take the bar exam in the state in which you intend to practice. Make sure to study hard, as it is a difficult exam. Many lawyers have to take it several times before passing, so don’t take it lightly. After you get your license to practice law, you can start your career as a criminal attorney.