A Defense Attorney is a highly educated professional that is responsible for using their legal knowledge and experience to defend individuals who have been accused of a crime.
These individuals may work in a variety of settings and industries providing representation for individuals who need the proper legal help.
Individuals who want to become a Defense Attorney will have a strong passion for the legal system, be well versed with the written language and have strong debating and communication skills.
Education Requirements to Become a Defense Attorney
Individuals who want to become a Defense attorney will need several years of education after high school in order to enter this profession.
Individuals will need to complete an undergraduate degree, attend an accredited law school, pass the bar exam and have work experience in order to be successful in this field.
Although there is not a specific major an individual needs to study in order to become a Defense Attorney, certain majors and courses can benefit an individual when applying for law schools.
Some useful areas of study include: English, Economics, government, public speaking, history, philosophy and mathematics.
Once an individual has completed their undergraduate degree in a major such as Philosophy, Political Science or English, they will need to take an entrance exam in order to apply to a law school and become a Defense Attorney.
The majority of accredited law schools require that individuals take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) which measures an individual’s ability to study law.
Please visit the Law School Admission’s website for more information on the LSAT.
Once an individual is accepted into a law school, it will take approximately 3 years to complete this graduate degree and earn a juris doctor (J.D.).
A typical law school curriculum will include a variety of courses such as: legal writing, civil procedure, property law, contracts and constitutional law.
Students also have the opportunity to choose specialized courses.
Individuals who would like to become a Defense Attorney will need to specialize in a criminal defense law education.
After graduating from an accredited law program, individuals will need to pass an entrance exam in order to practice law.
This is typically referred to as the bar exam which is a comprehensive exam that tests an individual’s legal knowledge.
Bar exams are administered by local jurisdictions and states.
Individuals will need to contact their state for more information on how to secure a license.
Defense Attorney Job Description
Defense Attorneys typically work a 40 hour work week although they may work irregular hours to be able to meet with clients during evenings or weekends.
Defense Attorneys may work for private law firms or for states representing individuals without access to an attorney.
A Defense Attorney’s main duties are broken up into preparation and representation in the courtroom.
During the preparation stage, a Defense Attorney will review all the evidence, laws and statutes as well as perform research in order to prepare an argument for the courtroom.
Once all the preparation and arguments have been established, a Defense Attorney will use this information to represent their client in court to help find them innocent or to settle on lesser charges.
The suggestion a Defense Attorney will recommend all depends on the evidence gathered during the investigation stage.
Defense Attorney Salary and Career Path
In 2012, the median annual wage for attorneys in all industries was approximately $113,530.
Exact wages will depend on the level of experience, amount of clients, whether an individual owns their own practice and the industry an individual works in.
For example, an attorney working for the federal government can expect a median annual salary of $134,690 while an individual who works in legal services can expect to earn approximately $116,630 per year.
The job outlook for all attorneys is expected to grow at an average rate of 10 percent through the year 2022.
The demand for legal services will not grow as much as other industries.
This growth coupled with a large number of graduates will cause some competition among candidates.
However, individuals who seek opportunities at larger firms will have better opportunities as they are the largest employers for attorneys.
Individuals who are interested in a Defense Attorney career path will find that there are many benefits to joining this field.
Whether it’s representing individuals who can’t afford an attorney to finding a career at a large firm, Defense Attorneys have a variety of opportunities in this field.