How do I Become a Criminal Law Attorney?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 17 December 2018
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In order to become a criminal law attorney, a person typically must earn an undergraduate degree, attend law school and pass an examination that proves his competency. Though criminal law is a specialized type of law practice, there generally isn’t a unique course of study to follow to reach this goal. Instead, an aspiring criminal attorney can follow the procedure for becoming a general attorney and then choose to specialize later. Courses and types of qualifying exams vary by country.

To become a criminal law attorney, a person generally starts by seeking an undergraduate degree from a college or university. This typically requires completing about four years of study, but candidates may not have to study law at this point. Sometimes, they can choose any course of undergraduate study they prefer. Selecting some classes related to law, psychology, or criminal behavior may help prepare for law school, however. Taking coursework related to criminal law and earning goods grades may also help influence law school admissions officers.

A prospective criminal lawyer will need to gain acceptance to law school in order to pursue his goals. Admissions officers typically consider an applicant’s score on a law school admissions test, as well as grades from undergraduate study. Work experience and interviews may be considered as well.


Once admission to a law school has been obtained, a person who seeks to become a criminal law attorney typically settles into studying core law school subjects. For example, a student may study such things as contracts and constitutional law during the first part of law school. In later years, he may select courses that will prove helpful for his specialization in criminal law.

A student who plans to become a criminal law attorney may obtain work experience through legal clinics sponsored by the school or mock courtroom competitions. He may also participate in practice trials and gain experience with legal writing by submitting articles to school-published journals. Some schools also offer law students the opportunity to work under the supervision of practicing attorneys, gaining knowledge and work experience. A criminal law student may choose supervised work assignments related to his field in preparation for work after law school.

Upon completing law school, a student may choose to continue schooling in an effort to obtain a higher degree, which may be helpful for someone interested in criminal law specialization. This isn’t generally required, however, and some choose to take the law exam required in their locality and obtain licensing to practice.



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