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What They Do

Lawyers Career Video

Insider Info

Criminal defense lawyers represent people accused of crimes in court. Their duty is to provide the best defense possible, using all the legal means they have to win an acquittal for their client.

This may mean challenging evidence brought by the prosecution, calling character witnesses to vouch for the defendant and overseeing investigations that explore alternative theories about who committed the crime in question.

Criminal defense lawyers defend anyone accused of a crime. Their clients may range from accused murderers and rapists to drunk drivers and people charged with possession of illegal drugs.

Some legal organizations are concerned that because the best law students are drawn to high-paying jobs in other types of law, criminal defendants are not getting the best representation they can. That can lead to the conviction of innocent people and a flood of appeals cases in higher courts.

Working hours vary. Many young criminal defense attorneys find they often work 70 hours or more a week in order to get their careers started successfully. While criminal courts only operate on weekdays, the possibility of weekend and all-night meetings with clients always exists.

At a Glance

Defend those charged with criminal offenses

  • This isn't the best paid legal specialty
  • You might work 70 hours a week in the beginning
  • You'll need to pass the bar exam


  • Email Support

  • 1-800-GO-TO-XAP (1-800-468-6927)
    From outside the U.S., please call +1 (424) 750-3900


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OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.