If you are at a turning point in your life and you are thinking about which profession is ideal for your future, it is certainly not an easy choice. Someone knows what he wants to do years in advance, and someone is divided between several options and does not know what to decide. If you have decided that you want to be a lawyer, that is a great choice. It is one of the most respected and important professions that exist.
But being a lawyer or an attorney involves making another decision. And that is what area of law you will specialize in. There are some lawyers who do a lot of different things, but that’s rare and if you want to be really successful, you have to be an expert in one area. Criminal lawyers are certainly among the most successful, earning the most and are often popular as you probably know from many movies, TV shows and documentaries. However, before you make a decision these are the things you need to know about becoming a criminal lawyer.
1. You must complete law school and obtain a license
You cannot apply to law school immediately after high school. You must first have a bachelor’s degree, and only then attend law school. It doesn’t matter what bachelor’s degree you have, everyone qualifies you for law school, but of course it’s better to be psychology than math. It is also important that you have good grades in order to be admitted to law school. After that, you decide which law schools you want to apply for, make recommendations and many other things you need for process of applying. Once you are admitted to law school, you usually have 3 years in front of you until you get your degree. After that you need to apply for a license and pass the test. Once you’ve done it all, you can start being a criminal lawyer.
2. What is criminal law?
This includes all the most serious crimes, about which it is difficult for you to listen to the news, and not to be involved in them in any way. But that is exactly what a lawyer specializing in this will do constantly. In addition to all the crimes that you unfortunately often hear have happened, these include money laundering, terrorism, treason and much more. The sentences provided for such acts may also be a sentence of imprisonment or the death penalty. If you’ve never heard of Miranda warning, you’ve probably heard at least in the movies when cops communicate rights to whoever is arrested. It says that they have the right to a lawyer even if they cannot pay him. This is true, but only if the crime is such that the minimum possible prison sentence is half a year. The reason why everyone is assigned a lawyer is precise that the penalties for crimes are very strict and will cause great damage if someone is unjustly accused. Much more than for a misdemeanor where someone will pay a few hundred dollars and that’s it. Find out more info about the difference between misdemeanor and felony from Rockland County criminal lawyer.
3. You will have to bond with different people
In order to be able to do your job successfully, you need to bond with your client. But this is very difficult in the case of a criminal lawyer because the clients will exclusively be people accused of heinous things, so these are people with whom you would not want to have any contact. However, not only will you have to have contact, but even to be close. Therefore, you must develop in advance the ability to view each person as a human being and find justification for his actions, so that you can better defend him. You need to develop mutual trust, so he or she will tell you every detail that may be crucial in the end. Also, you will often go to jail to visit your client, so you need to be prepared for that as well, which is for many stressful, especially first few times.
4. You have to be a good speaker and writer
These are two necessary skills for this profession. Most of the time, writing will be the biggest part of your job. That is why it is important that you do it well, that you know grammar well and that you know how to write various formal documents, emails and the like. Also, you have to be a good public speaker. If you have a stage fright, you will not be able to be successful criminal lawyer. You have to have good diction and be eloquent. You have to be relaxed when you talk in front of a lot of people, because you will do it often. And when you speak before a jury and a judge, it will have a decisive outcome for your client’s case, so you certainly don’t want to be overwhelmed with nervousness.
Earnings are the reason why many choose this profession. All over the world, lawyers are considered to earn very well, especially criminal lawyers. And that is mostly true. But remember that this is not easy and that earnings vary significantly. Many factors will affect how much money you will earn. One of the biggest factors is the market. The bigger the market is, the higher your hourly rate will be. Then there is the big difference between a lawyer working in a well-known law firm and a public defender. A public defender has an average salary, often below 50,000 dollars a year which is not much, especially if you live in New York, for example. Also remember that the competition is fierce and you will not be able to reach a large number of clients quickly. That’s why it takes years to make a lot of money. This is certainly a profession that can bring you income of several hundred thousand dollars a year, and even millions. But don’t count on it when you enroll in law school. There is a long way to go.
Being a criminal lawyer guarantees you a very interesting career, where it will never be monotonous because each case is very different. And the stakes are very high, so you will always have to be maximally focused. You also have the opportunity to become rich. However, be realistic and think carefully about whether this is the right profession for you for many reasons.