Jobs In Criminal Law

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phonepro
Posts: 271
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:59 pm

Jobs In Criminal Law

Postby phonepro » Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:24 pm

How do you find jobs in criminal law? I'm going the corporate law route b/c that's what I did at a legal assistant at a V5 firm prior to law school. However, as a 1L i loved crim and I think I'd be much happier doing that.

Where are the jobs? Besides DAs office and USAO. How do you find firms that just focus on criminal law?

seatown12
Posts: 614
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:16 pm

Re: Jobs In Criminal Law

Postby seatown12 » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:45 pm

Turn away from the dark side and be a public defender. If you just can't pass up the money gun for San Francisco.

Interested Observer
Posts: 48
Joined: Sun Aug 23, 2009 1:53 pm

Re: Jobs In Criminal Law

Postby Interested Observer » Wed Mar 02, 2011 2:12 pm

phonepro wrote:How do you find jobs in criminal law? I'm going the corporate law route b/c that's what I did at a legal assistant at a V5 firm prior to law school. However, as a 1L i loved crim and I think I'd be much happier doing that.

Where are the jobs? Besides DAs office and USAO. How do you find firms that just focus on criminal law?


Firms that "focus on criminal law" are going to be criminal defense firms. Criminal defense differs from other areas of the law. (There are no "firms" that do prosecution.)

Criminal defense is going to be done either in the public sector (public defender organizations), private sector or a hybrid (court-appointed representation for private counsel). If you're looking for "firms," I'm assuming you mean private practice. Most private criminal defense is done by solos and small firms (firms with two or three attorneys). Infrequently, you may find some "big" criminal defense firms, but this isn't the norm -- and "big" in criminal defense is as big as 10 attorneys. Over the last decade, there has been a shift for white-collar defendants to go to big law firms who often have Ex-US Attorney partners for representation. But, you can still find good solos and small firms who also handle street crimes that do white-collar defense.

If you're looking to get experience in criminal defense, the best way would be to volunteer at a public defender organization. They can use the help and have a wide variety of cases that you could potentially work on. You'll also be able to get more hands-on experience as opposed to working for a solo or small firm -- the biggest benefit of being at a public defender office is that there's usually a trial going on somewhere in the office and you can usually make yourself available for that.

As far as finding criminal defense firms, you can just use Martindale or even search on those Superlawyer websites for leads. Another good way is to read the newspaper for the region you're interested in and see who's handling the high-profile cases.

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FalafelWaffle
Posts: 286
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:07 pm

Re: Jobs In Criminal Law

Postby FalafelWaffle » Wed Mar 02, 2011 2:32 pm

Interested Observer wrote:
phonepro wrote:How do you find jobs in criminal law? I'm going the corporate law route b/c that's what I did at a legal assistant at a V5 firm prior to law school. However, as a 1L i loved crim and I think I'd be much happier doing that.

Where are the jobs? Besides DAs office and USAO. How do you find firms that just focus on criminal law?


Firms that "focus on criminal law" are going to be criminal defense firms. Criminal defense differs from other areas of the law. (There are no "firms" that do prosecution.)

Criminal defense is going to be done either in the public sector (public defender organizations), private sector or a hybrid (court-appointed representation for private counsel). If you're looking for "firms," I'm assuming you mean private practice. Most private criminal defense is done by solos and small firms (firms with two or three attorneys). Infrequently, you may find some "big" criminal defense firms, but this isn't the norm -- and "big" in criminal defense is as big as 10 attorneys. Over the last decade, there has been a shift for white-collar defendants to go to big law firms who often have Ex-US Attorney partners for representation. But, you can still find good solos and small firms who also handle street crimes that do white-collar defense.

If you're looking to get experience in criminal defense, the best way would be to volunteer at a public defender organization. They can use the help and have a wide variety of cases that you could potentially work on. You'll also be able to get more hands-on experience as opposed to working for a solo or small firm -- the biggest benefit of being at a public defender office is that there's usually a trial going on somewhere in the office and you can usually make yourself available for that.

As far as finding criminal defense firms, you can just use Martindale or even search on those Superlawyer websites for leads. Another good way is to read the newspaper for the region you're interested in and see who's handling the high-profile cases.


Is there any credence to what I keep hearing about how working as an ADA or public defender is good and makes you desirable because you get a lot of trial experience? I'm the opposite in that I'm not interested in criminal law, so would that trial experience really benefit me?

BeautifulSW
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Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 11:52 am

Re: Jobs In Criminal Law

Postby BeautifulSW » Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:59 pm

A very good question to which the answer has to be, "It depends." A state-level crim job, DA or PD, will probably entail a lot of courtroom time. But civil litigation and criminal litigation might as well be on different planets, beyond merely learning to stand on your hind legs and address a Judge or jury. If you are interested in doing, say, estate planning or real estate development, time spent as a DA or PD will avail you nothing more than some war stories for New Year's parties. If you want to do civil litigation, doing a year or two with the DA or PD might be useful but I wouldn't stick around much longer than that. You will need to be learning your specialty by then.

The only really good reason to do state level DA or PD work is that it's a lot of fun.

Interested Observer
Posts: 48
Joined: Sun Aug 23, 2009 1:53 pm

Re: Jobs In Criminal Law

Postby Interested Observer » Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:15 am

I've asked the same question about trial experience and working at a PD/DA. Generally speaking, young PDs and DAs do get a lot of trial experience -- in fact, they're encouraged to go to trial to develop experience.

Trial experience will certainly be useful if you plan on being a litigator long-term. Learning to pick a jury, negotiate over jury instructions and actually do opening/closing, direct and cross-examinations are skill that translate whether you do civil or criminal litigation.

With that being said, if you intend on being a civil litigator, you're not going to learn civil procedure or substantive law (in some civil litigation practice area). You also won't learn what civil litigators do most of the time (since trials are a rarity). In criminal practice, you don't have depositions, interrogatories, requests for admission, etc. (With some exception.) The discovery practice differs dramatically from the criminal arena to the civil arena.

But since trials are such a rarity in civil practice, racking up on them in criminal practice early on could be good for a future civil litigator. Like the above poster said, it all depends...

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countbizaller
Posts: 103
Joined: Sun Oct 28, 2007 5:38 pm

Re: Jobs In Criminal Law

Postby countbizaller » Thu Mar 03, 2011 3:00 am

There's also some other practical considerations. Criminal lawyers enjoy a larger degree of freedom when it comes to their work. They're given their cases and are expected to manage them without a lot of hand holding. Associates at firms are more subject to the whim of partners and aren't given as much latitude when it comes to scheduling their work. If the partner needs a memo done over the weekend, your plans go out the window. That's not to say criminal lawyers never have pressing matters like this come up, but generally ADAs and PDs decide for themselves how and when to tackle their caseloads (as long as it all gets done).

I've heard that there's generally a 2-4 year window that young lawyers have to jump between criminal and civil. On the civil side, it's great to have a criminal attorney coming over with actual trial experience, but they're also walking into the firm with no book of business and accustomed to a lot of autonomy. On the criminal side, there's a lot of bright people that can come from civil law, but they also have no trial experience, unaccustomed to handling their own caseloads, and may have grown used to an expensive lifestyle.




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