The Advantages of Being a Criminal Lawyer


Criminal law can be an exciting career for persons interested in criminal justice. A criminal lawyer is responsible for prosecuting individuals for or defending clients against alleged crimes perpetrated against the state or society. Criminal lawyers have varied daily duties, including fact-gathering, witness interviews, writing legal memoranda and pleadings, information analysis, plea-bargaining, trial preparation and jury selection. This career might be attractive to highly organized persons talented at writing and arguing persuasively.

Diverse Career Options

  • Criminal lawyers have a variety of career paths available to them. First, they have the option of being either prosecutors or defense attorneys. Prosecutors are lawyers who represent the government in criminal cases; defense attorneys are those that represent an individual accused of an offense against the state. If a lawyer decides to become a defense attorney, then he may work for the government as a public defender, or work for a private firm. Defense attorneys also are able to specialize in a number of criminal law fields, including, homicide (and other violent crimes), cyber crime, sexual harassment, drug-related crimes, immigration, embezzlement, money laundering or other financial crimes.

Job Outlook

  • According the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the job growth for lawyers is about as fast as average. This means that employment for lawyers will continue to increase between 7-13 percent over several years. Although the BLS does not distinguish between criminal lawyers and other types of lawyers, it is generally understood in the legal community that criminal law is a fairly steady career to get into; as long as there is crime, there will always be a need for criminal lawyers. However, the BLS points out that the competition for these legal positions is fierce.


  • The salary for a criminal attorney depends upon many factors --geographic location, firm size, public or private sector, specialty and experience. According to Salary, the average criminal lawyer's salary in large cities like Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles range between $110,000 to $126,000 per year. However, in smaller cities, such as Columbus, Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky the average ranges between $74,000 and $83,000 per year. The average pay of a public defender or prosecutor is significantly less. For example, according to, a public defender just beginning her career may expect to start at between $36,000 and $47,000 per year. Overall, however, a legal career in criminal law pays relatively well.

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