How to Become a Criminal Defense Lawyer



Legal professions today are considered prestigious thanks to their high demand and good pay. Whether you’re looking to become a personal injury lawyer or a criminal defense lawyer, every legal profession plays an important role in serving the citizens. As a lawyer in this discipline, your responsibility is to defend individuals and organizations that have been charged with or accused of a crime. Criminal defense, in particular, is not only ethically rewarding but also pays well. If you aspire to be a lawyer, now is the right time to achieve your goal and take the necessary steps to become a criminal defense lawyer.

Follow these steps to become an acclaimed criminal defense lawyer.

Step 1: Get a Bachelor’s Degree

The minimum educational requirement to be admitted to law school is a bachelor’s degree. Unlike other fields of study, you cannot enroll in law school with a high-school diploma. Graduates from multidisciplinary areas of study can be admitted to law schools, and those usually range from mathematics to political science. You can also have a BA in journalism, economics, English, philosophy, science, or business. In other words, you’re not required to specialize in criminal defense law as an undergraduate as long as you obtain a bachelor’s degree of at least 4 years of study. For more information on educational requirements, check the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs on the official site of the U.S. Department of Education to make an informed choice.

Step 2: Pass the Law School Admission Test

The LSAT, as it is popularly known, must be passed to enroll in law school The LSAT is used to assess candidates and their skills. The scores act as an objective measure to determine whether the student possesses enough knowledge and ability to become a competent lawyer. The format of the test includes five sections of multiple-choice questions and assesses the applicants’ ability through a writing section. This exam tests the ability of the applicant in different areas such as information management, critical thinking, analysis, reading and writing comprehension, decision-making abilities, and reasoning.  

Step 3: Look for Reputable Law Schools

When you’re shortlisting law schools, the first criterion you should look for is the curriculum. While the subjects for the first year are the same for most law schools, you can compare the curriculums of the second year. You should also research the facilities and services offered by the schools of your choice, which include library materials, infrastructure, and other educational facilities. At the same time, you should compare costs, seeing as most law schools are extremely expensive. The researchers and study experts from Authority.org recommend narrowing down your options by choosing a school that is accredited by the American Bar Association or ABA. It determines whether or not you will be able to take the bar exam. Lastly, look for a school that offers programs related to trial advocacy and solo practitioners.

Step 4: Get Your Juris Doctor or J.D. Degree

The next step involves earning your J.D. degree, which is the official degree affiliated with the national recognition of all lawyers. All ABA-accredited law schools in the USA offer a Juris Doctor degree. If a student prefers to study full-time, they can earn their Juris Doctor degree within three years. As a prospective student, you must select a specific program among the myriad of curriculum options that are given to you. Typically, the courses offered at accredited law schools include subjects like constitutional law, property law, legal writing, family law, taxes, etc., which will guide you towards a specialization of your choice.

Step 5: Take the Bar Examination

The final step involves taking and passing the bar examination, which will establish your name as a legal and registered lawyer in your state. Typically, the bar exam is held in two stages, which are held for two days. The testing guidelines vary from state to state. To practice law in other states, you must pass the bar exam of the respective states.

These steps will help you fulfill your goal of becoming an acclaimed criminal lawyer. After you pass the bar examination, you can start browsing for jobs. If you have great communication skills and can thrive under pressure, you are bound to achieve success as a criminal defense lawyer. As a start, you should enroll in a firm as an intern or a participant in a summer program, which you can do as an undergraduate, to get closer to your goal.

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