The education and other requirements to practice as a criminal attorney are as follows:
- Education: Like all lawyers, criminal lawyers must first complete a bachelor’s degree, then obtain a law degree. The two degrees typically take a total of seven years to complete.
- License: Criminals attorneys must pass the bar examination in the state in which they intend to practice.
- Certification: Some criminal lawyers earn a board certification from the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification (NBLSC). The NBLSC is a non-profit organization accredited by the American Bar Association to provide board certification for attorneys and is an outgrowth of the National Board of Trial Advocacy.
Criminal Lawyer Skills & Competencies
Criminal lawyers must possess a variety of additional skills to succeed in their jobs, including the following:
- Writing and speaking skills: Excellent oral and written advocacy skills in order to argue a client’s case before a judge and persuade a jury.
- Research and investigative skills: Investigative and research skills are also important in building a client’s case and establishing a strong defense.
- Creative and analytical skills: Strong creative thinking and analytical skills to develop a legal strategy, analyze case law and litigate complex cases.
- Legal knowledge and experience: In-depth understanding of state, federal and local rules, court procedures, evidentiary laws, and local judges to navigate the criminal justice system efficiently and competently.
- Interpersonal skills: Excellent interpersonal skills are necessary to build a strong client-attorney relationship. Criminal defendants are a finicky group who sometimes go through many lawyers before settling on one they like. Therefore, the ability to attract and retain clients is essential to a thriving criminal defense practice.