How Do I Become a Deputy District Attorney?

Renee Booker
Renee Booker
District attorneys represent the state's case in criminal trials.
District attorneys represent the state's case in criminal trials.

A deputy district attorney is an attorney who works under the elected or appointed district attorney in a given jurisdiction. The district attorney's office is responsible for prosecuting criminals at either the state or federal level within the United States. The path followed to become a deputy district attorney requires many years of formal education followed by licensing in the state where the individual plans to work.

Anyone who plans to become a deputy district attorney must first complete a four-year bachelor's degree in the major of his or her choice. While there is no official "pre-law" major, common majors for students who plan to continue on to law school include business, political science, and philosophy. For a student who is certain that he or she plans to become a deputy district attorney, an undergraduate degree in criminology or a similar field is also an option.

After undergraduate school, a law-school hopeful must take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) and apply. Admission to law school is highly competitive and is often based on the LSAT score, the undergraduate grade point average, and activities or work experience completed while in undergraduate school. The student must then complete three years of law school culminating in the receipt of a juris doctorate degree,

For a student who aspires to become a deputy district attorney, he or she should take advantage of any internship or clinic opportunities offered while in law school. Many law schools offer criminal law clinics where students have the opportunity to represent real clients under the supervision of a practicing attorney or professor. In addition, many local prosecutor or district attorney offices hire summer or school-year interns which can give a student valuable firsthand experience as well as an excellent reference.

After law school, the final step required to practice law is to become licensed with the state Supreme Court. Along with passing the state bar examination, an applicant must also pass the multi-state professional responsibility exam (MPRE). In addition, a character and fitness background check is also typically required.

Once licensed, an attorney who desires to become a deputy district attorney must then apply to a local or federal district attorney's office when an opening becomes available. If an opening is not readily available with the district attorney's office, an attorney may wish to consider applying for the local or federal public defender's office. Experience as a defense attorney is often considered a valuable asset when applying to be a deputy district attorney.

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    • District attorneys represent the state's case in criminal trials.
      By: Gina Sanders
      District attorneys represent the state's case in criminal trials.