Few career paths are more respected or more lucrative than becoming a criminal defense attorney. This means that it is also a job that many people aspire to.
Of course, not all aspiring lawyers are able to achieve their dreams, and even knowing where to start is tricky if you’re a total novice.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the steps you need to take and the challenges you’ll need to overcome to eventually work as a criminal defense attorney.
Complete a degree course
You’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree under your belt before you even think about attending law school, and it’s best to stick to one of the fields of study generally preferred by top legal institutions today.
This includes things like political science and sociology, although you can have a college-level education in any subject you wish, as long as you are able to impress on your law school application and during the interview.
Trainee in a law firm
A great extracurricular activity to have under your belt is experience gained through an internship program with a reputable law firm, preferably in the same region or state where you intend to study and possibly qualify.
For example, working alongside a Criminal Defense Lawyer based in New Brunswickyou’ll not only gain something valuable to add to your law school application, but you’ll also get a taste of what life as a lawyer in law school is really like.
Take the entrance exam
All recognized and accredited law schools will require prospective students not only to have a solid background, but also to sit the LSATotherwise known as the law school admission test.
The higher your score, the more likely you are to get an offer from your favorite school. You might even get a scholarship if your LSAT performance is sufficiently distinguished and you meet the other eligibility criteria for financial support.
Obviously, you’ll have to study for the test, and one of the best ways to do that is to take practice exams to familiarize yourself with the questions you’ll face during the real thing.
If you do not meet the score requirements imposed by the law school of your choice, you can retake the LSAT in order to increase it, although different institutions have different rules for how retake scores are assessed, so keep that in mind.
Complete your law degree
More law schools have a study program that lasts 3 years in total, and during this time you will be able to explore the different areas of practice and ideally focus on the one that matches your interests and values.
If criminal defense is what excites you the most, be sure to maximize your chances of following that path all the way through law school with whatever electives you opt for, for example.
You can also get summer jobs at law firms while you’re in law school, which will further boost your experience level. It could also open doors for you to a job right out of school once you pass the bar exam.
Pass the bar exam
As mentioned, you will need to pass the bar exam in the state of your choice where you wish to practice law once you have completed your law school.
Preparing for this exam takes two or three months, depending on bar exam scheduleand most applicants pay prep classes to get them through the line.
If successful, you’ll be ready to seek employment at a law firm and begin your career as a criminal defense attorney!