So, you want to be a career criminal defense lawyer, eh? Good luck. You’re going to need it.
Being a criminal lawyer is not an easy feat, especially when you’re defending the undefendable. You might be employed by a legal aid organization or you might be a public defender on the state purse.
Whatever it might be, you will be in for quite a career. Are you ready for it?
Well, here are five things you should know now:
1. It’s a Hard Job to Endure
Sure, there are times when you will be defending people who are wrongly accused of a crime and they are really innocent. For the most part, though, you will be defending career criminals who go through the revolving door of the justice system.
When you practice criminal law, you will spend a lot of your time defending burglars, kidnappers, shoplifters, rapists, and a whole host of other criminals. It can be disheartening to defend them, but that is the state of criminal law.
You are guilty until proven innocent and everyone is entitled to legal defense.
2. Don’t Become a Victim
Over time, you will become fully entrenched in criminal law, and you will be dedicated to your clients.
Like any other field of work, the more you apply yourself to your career, the greater the chance of fatigue, burn out, and depression. This is especially true when you’re a criminal defense lawyer, someone who needs to defend the deplorables, the moral transgressors, and the career criminals.
3. Avoid Being Emotionally Attached
While you will ultimately spend much of your career defending thugs, there will be times when you are trying to get the innocent off scot-free. This is when you will be the most attached.
It is commendable that you feel this way, but it is always best to avoid being emotionally attached. This will contribute to your own victimization, and it could potentially weaken your desire to help the guilty.
You need to treat every case like the next. As long as you apply your knowledge of criminal law, you will always do your best for your clients. You can be sure of that!
4. Encourage Clients to Tell the Truth
This isn’t a John Grisham novel. This isn’t an episode of “Law & Order.” This isn’t a Hollywood motion picture. This is real life with real-world consequences.
What are we talking about? The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – so help you God.
Working as a criminal lawyer, you typically want what is best for your clients. And, the best thing for your client is to tell the truth. By being deceitful and mendacious, you hurt your own case. Unless you are an unscrupulous person, and you are certainly not, honesty is the best policy.
5. Thinking Six-Figures? Think Again
Unless you work in private practice and you are defending mobsters, Wall Street schemers, and kingpins, you can forget about earning six-figures, driving expensive cars, and being one of the most important men in town.
It’s just not going to happen. It only happens in the pictures.
No, the real scenario is this: You will be a public defender, you will work for a legal aid society, or you will be retained by reluctant clients who prefer to use Mr. Google for their legal needs.
If you think being a criminal lawyer will yield you fortune and fame, then specialize in another law. It isn’t easy being a criminal defense lawyer. It’s difficult every way you look at it – from the financial aspect to the workload to the burden of defending the undefendable. But that’s the career path you have chosen, which can be rewarding at times. If you have chosen this law field, then you must stick with it and do your best to ensure the integrity of the process is intact and everyone’s right to an attorney and representation is upheld.