Criminal law grows as crime rates increase and criminal laws change in our country.
The number of people sentenced to prison has tripled in the last 30 years and crime rates have increased, thus increasing the prison population throughout the country. As new criminal laws are codified and more Americans are charged in accordance with state and federal laws, the need for criminal attorneys to defend the accused will also increase.
According to the BLS, the growth in jobs for all attorneys, including criminal attorneys, from 2016-2026 relative to other occupations and industries is 8%. This growth rate compares to the projected 7% growth for all occupations.
Most criminal lawyers work in private practice or in a solo firm. Some work for non-profit agencies or for the government as public defenders. Criminal lawyers often work long, irregular hours. They frequently meet with clients outside their office at the courthouse, prisons, hospitals and other venues. Most criminal lawyers maintain a local practice. However, for criminal attorneys with a national practice, frequent travel is required.
Most attorneys work full-time hours and many work over 40 hours each week. Attorneys working either in large firms or in private practice often work extra hours, preparing and reviewing documents, and conducting research.