How to Become a Criminal Defense Attorney? A Step-By-Step Guide

A criminal defense attorney is a lawyer who specializes in defending individuals or organizations accused of criminal offenses.

What Makes a Good Defense Attorney?
What Makes a Good Defense Attorney?| Steven Titus

Criminal defense attorneys work to protect the rights and interests of their clients, and to challenge the evidence and arguments presented by the prosecution.

The attorneys may handle cases involving various types of crimes, such as theft, assault, fraud, drug offenses, homicide, and more.

If you are interested in becoming a criminal defense attorney, you will need to complete several steps of education, training, and licensing.

Here are the main steps you will need to follow:

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

The first step to becoming a criminal defense attorney is to obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

You can choose any major that interests you, but some common ones for pre-law students are political science, sociology, psychology, or criminal justice.

Take courses that develop your writing, research, and communication skills, as well as your critical thinking and analytical abilities.

You should also maintain a high grade point average (GPA) to increase your chances of getting into law school.

Step 2: Take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

The next step is to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), which is a standardized exam that measures your aptitude for legal studies.

The LSAT consists of five sections: one unscored section, one writing section, and three scored sections that test your reading comprehension, logical reasoning, and analytical reasoning skills.

The LSAT is scored on a scale of 120 to 180, and the average score is around 150. You should prepare well for the LSAT, as it is one of the most important factors that law schools consider when evaluating your application.

Step 3: Attend Law School

After taking the LSAT, you can apply to law schools that are accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Law school typically takes three years to complete, and it leads to a Juris Doctor (JD) degree.

During your first year of law school, you will take core courses that cover the foundations of legal theory and practice, such as constitutional law, civil procedure, contracts, torts, criminal law, and legal writing.

You can also participate in extracurricular activities, such as moot court, law review, or internships, to gain practical experience and network with potential employers.

Step 4: Pass the Bar Examination

The final step to becoming a criminal defense attorney is to pass the bar examination in the state where you want to practice.

The bar examination is a comprehensive test that assesses your knowledge of the law and your ability to apply it in various scenarios.

The format and content of the bar examination vary by state, but most states use the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE), which consists of three components: the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE), the Multistate Essay Examination (MEE), and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT).

Which type of lawyer is best?

There is no definitive answer to what type of lawyer is the best, as different types of lawyers specialize in different areas of law and may have different levels of experience, skill, and reputation.

The best type of lawyer for your case depends on your legal issue, your budget, your location, and your personal preference.

However, some general factors that you may want to consider when choosing a lawyer are:


You want a lawyer who is honest, ethical, and reliable.

A trustworthy lawyer will act in your best interest, keep you informed of your case progress, and respect your confidentiality.

You can check a lawyer’s trustworthiness by reading reviews from past clients, asking for references, or checking with the bar association for any disciplinary actions.


You want a lawyer who is knowledgeable, competent, and respected in their field.

A credible lawyer will have the necessary qualifications, experience, and expertise to handle your case effectively.

They will also have a good reputation among their peers, judges, and other legal professionals. You can check a lawyer’s credibility by looking at their ratings, awards, publications, or memberships in professional organizations.


You want a lawyer who is responsive, clear, and courteous.

A good communicator will listen to your needs, answer your questions, explain your options, and keep you updated on your case status.

They will also communicate well with the other parties involved in your case, such as the opposing counsel, witnesses, or experts.

You can check a lawyer’s communication skills by contacting them via phone, email, or in person, and observing how they interact with you and others.


You want a lawyer who has handled cases similar to yours before and has a proven track record of success.

An experienced lawyer will know the relevant laws, procedures, and strategies for your case.

They will also be familiar with the local court system and the judges who may preside over your case.

You can check a lawyer’s experience by asking them about their past cases, results, and outcomes.


You want a lawyer who can analyze your situation, identify the best course of action, and resolve your legal issue efficiently and effectively.

A problem-solving lawyer will be creative, flexible, and resourceful.

They will be able to handle any challenges, obstacles, or complications that may arise during your case.

They will also be able to negotiate, mediate, or litigate on your behalf, depending on your goals and interests.

You can check a lawyer’s problem-solving skills by asking them how they would approach your case, what potential issues they foresee, and how they would overcome them.

These are some of the factors that may help you find the best type of lawyer for your case.

However, you should also consider your personal preferences, such as the lawyer’s personality, style, fees, and availability.

Ultimately, the best type of lawyer for you is the one who meets your needs, expectations, and satisfaction.

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