Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

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eric922
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Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby eric922 » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:31 pm

Maybe I'm painting with too broad a brush here, but it seems like a lot of people on this site(and others) consider criminal defense to be "shit law." Now, I can see ambulance chases being disliked, but why criminal defense attorneys? Their work is just as important to our legal system as the work of the attorneys at Cravarth and if it's a matter of money I know several defense attorneys who make several million a year. Granted, I personally want to do biglaw, but let's be honest biglaw serves the needs of maybe 1% of the population and I just don't get why defense work is considered "shit law."

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bk1
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby bk1 » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:40 pm

eric922 wrote:if it's a matter of money I know several defense attorneys who make several million a year.

Do you understand why this is a wholly irrelevant statement?

eric922
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby eric922 » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:44 pm

bk1 wrote:
eric922 wrote:if it's a matter of money I know several defense attorneys who make several million a year.

Do you understand why this is a wholly irrelevant statement?

Yeah I was wary of putting that in there since it is completely anecdotal and I'm sure the vast majority don't make near that much.

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dingbat
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby dingbat » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:47 pm

eric922 wrote:Maybe I'm painting with too broad a brush here, but it seems like a lot of people on this site(and others) consider criminal defense to be "shit law." Now, I can see ambulance chases being disliked, but why criminal defense attorneys? Their work is just as important to our legal system as the work of the attorneys at Cravarth and if it's a matter of money I know several defense attorneys who make several million a year. Granted, I personally want to do biglaw, but let's be honest biglaw serves the needs of maybe 1% of the population and I just don't get why defense work is considered "shit law."

because it doesn't pay*

*TLS basically equates crim defense with shit law because it assumes it's what happens when you screw up your grades, can't get a job, and need to go to the ghetto to find clients. The vast majority of crim law is low paying gigs, in the same way that most insurance defense is fender benders, not arguing over whether the world trade center attacks count as 1 event or two

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bk1
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby bk1 » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:52 pm

TLS calls pretty much any low paying, private practice gig shitlaw, whether it's criminal defense, ambulance chasing, doc review, etc. TLS wouldn't call white collar criminal defense, practiced by many biglawyers, shitlaw.

It's not that these jobs are shit, though they often are, it's just a pejorative.

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dingbat
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby dingbat » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:54 pm

bk1 wrote:TLS calls pretty much any low paying, private practicenon-biglaw, non-fed. clerkship gig shitlaw.

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bk1
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby bk1 » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:55 pm

dingbat wrote:
bk1 wrote:TLS calls pretty much any low paying, private practicenon-biglaw, non-fed. clerkship gig shitlaw.

Eh, not really. Wouldn't call public interest stuff (e.g. DA, ACLU, PD, etc) or other government positions shitlaw.

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dingbat
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby dingbat » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:58 pm

bk1 wrote:
dingbat wrote:
bk1 wrote:TLS calls pretty much any low paying, private practicenon-biglaw, non-fed. clerkship gig shitlaw.

Eh, not really. Wouldn't call public interest stuff (e.g. DA, ACLU, PD, etc) or other government positions shitlaw.

No, but a lot of it is treated like god - something you know exists, but no one ever actually comes across.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:04 am

dingbat wrote:
bk1 wrote:
dingbat wrote:
bk1 wrote:TLS calls pretty much any low paying, private practicenon-biglaw, non-fed. clerkship gig shitlaw.

Eh, not really. Wouldn't call public interest stuff (e.g. DA, ACLU, PD, etc) or other government positions shitlaw.

No, but a lot of it is treated like god - something you know exists, but no one ever actually comes across.

I think there are quite a few people here doing/interested in state PD, and getting that out of school isn't impossible at all. Federal public defenders, not so much (and ditto the true PI like ACLU). Of course state PD runs into the money problem. I also don't think people here usually call PD shitlaw, though.

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Tom Joad
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby Tom Joad » Sat Jan 19, 2013 1:10 am

I would do white collar defense in a heartbeat.

cynthiad
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby cynthiad » Sat Jan 19, 2013 1:20 am

I think it depends on the type of criminal defense. If you're defending DUIs for peanuts, that's shitlaw. If you're defending rich white-collar criminals (or even rich people accused of other crimes) that's a different story. Plenty of biglaw lawyers do criminal defense, but it's as different from "shitlaw" criminal defense as writing wills in shitlaw is from doing T&E in a biglaw firm.

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dextermorgan
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby dextermorgan » Sat Jan 19, 2013 1:58 am

I came in here to defend public defenders, but nevermind.

timbs4339
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby timbs4339 » Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:15 pm

The number of people who can make a very good living trying criminal cases or doing prestigious death penalty or appellate criminal work is very low. Those latter positions are extremely competitive and the lawyers are very very good.

People can make a ton of $ doing DUI cases, but like any area of small law that depends more on your business acumen and building a mill that allows you to churn out cases for a couple thousand a pop.

More likely, you'll be working for low wages but lots of stress (there was a great post somewhere about how law is one of the few professions where the work was both high stress and boring), dealing with generally uneducated and violent clients, doing a lot of rote work and from what I've heard have a tough time collecting your fees. The work is not like on TV, where every case is neatly wrapped up in a bow after 30 minutes.

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scifiguy
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby scifiguy » Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:19 am

timbs4339 wrote:More likely, you'll be working for low wages but lots of stress (there was a great post somewhere about how law is one of the few professions where the work was both high stress and boring), dealing with generally uneducated and violent clients, doing a lot of rote work and from what I've heard have a tough time collecting your fees. The work is not like on TV, where every case is neatly wrapped up in a bow after 30 minutes.

I'm curious about this too.

When dealing with alleged criminals, do you lawyers ever have to fear for their own safety? Criminal law seems maybe the least appealing to me out of them all.

I don't know how I'd emotionally handle working with people alleged to have commited crimes like rape or murder. Do you have to talk to your clients outside of the job in the community if you see them?

cynthiad wrote:I think it depends on the type of criminal defense. If you're defending DUIs for peanuts, that's shitlaw. If you're defending rich white-collar criminals (or even rich people accused of other crimes) that's a different story. Plenty of biglaw lawyers do criminal defense, but it's as different from "shitlaw" criminal defense as writing wills in shitlaw is from doing T&E in a biglaw firm.


What's T & E?

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IAFG
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby IAFG » Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:02 am

bk1 wrote:TLS calls pretty much any low paying, private practice gig shitlaw, whether it's criminal defense, ambulance chasing, doc review, etc. TLS wouldn't call white collar criminal defense, practiced by many biglawyers, shitlaw.

It's not that these jobs are shit, though they often are, it's just a pejorative.

If I can't either 1) make my 10 yr loan payments while supporting myself or 2) qualify for LRAP, then it is "shitlaw."

TheGreatFish
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby TheGreatFish » Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:49 am

IAFG wrote:If I can't either 1) make my 10 yr loan payments while supporting myself or 2) qualify for LRAP, then it is "shitlaw."


How much do you think you need to earn to pay off your loans while supporting yourself?

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IAFG
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby IAFG » Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:51 am

TheGreatFish wrote:
IAFG wrote:If I can't either 1) make my 10 yr loan payments while supporting myself or 2) qualify for LRAP, then it is "shitlaw."


How much do you think you need to earn to pay off your loans while supporting yourself?

Back of the envelope math, 80-100k.

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dingbat
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby dingbat » Sun Jan 20, 2013 8:50 am

scifiguy wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:More likely, you'll be working for low wages but lots of stress (there was a great post somewhere about how law is one of the few professions where the work was both high stress and boring), dealing with generally uneducated and violent clients, doing a lot of rote work and from what I've heard have a tough time collecting your fees. The work is not like on TV, where every case is neatly wrapped up in a bow after 30 minutes.

I'm curious about this too.

When dealing with alleged criminals, do you lawyers ever have to fear for their own safety? Criminal law seems maybe the least appealing to me out of them all.

I don't know how I'd emotionally handle working with people alleged to have commited crimes like rape or murder. Do you have to talk to your clients outside of the job in the community if you see them?
Do you want repeat business? Do you want referrals?
scifiguy wrote:
cynthiad wrote:I think it depends on the type of criminal defense. If you're defending DUIs for peanuts, that's shitlaw. If you're defending rich white-collar criminals (or even rich people accused of other crimes) that's a different story. Plenty of biglaw lawyers do criminal defense, but it's as different from "shitlaw" criminal defense as writing wills in shitlaw is from doing T&E in a biglaw firm.


What's T & E?

Trusts & Estates

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dextermorgan
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby dextermorgan » Sun Jan 20, 2013 12:06 pm

scifiguy wrote:When dealing with alleged criminals, do you lawyers ever have to fear for their own safety? Criminal law seems maybe the least appealing to me out of them all.

I don't know how I'd emotionally handle working with people alleged to have commited crimes like rape or murder. Do you have to talk to your clients outside of the job in the community if you see them?

Have you ever talked to a criminal? You might be pleasantly surprised.

Defending your clients ≠ condoning their conduct.

cynthiad
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby cynthiad » Sun Jan 20, 2013 12:31 pm

dingbat wrote:
scifiguy wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:More likely, you'll be working for low wages but lots of stress (there was a great post somewhere about how law is one of the few professions where the work was both high stress and boring), dealing with generally uneducated and violent clients, doing a lot of rote work and from what I've heard have a tough time collecting your fees. The work is not like on TV, where every case is neatly wrapped up in a bow after 30 minutes.

I'm curious about this too.

When dealing with alleged criminals, do you lawyers ever have to fear for their own safety? Criminal law seems maybe the least appealing to me out of them all.

I don't know how I'd emotionally handle working with people alleged to have commited crimes like rape or murder. Do you have to talk to your clients outside of the job in the community if you see them?
Do you want repeat business? Do you want referrals?
[quote="scifiguy"]

Not necessarily true. I had an internship in a criminal defense firm, and there were certain clients my boss would only meet in the office. It's not just a question of safety, there's also the concern that you could be implicated in your client's crimes.

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dowu
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby dowu » Sun Jan 20, 2013 12:37 pm

dingbat wrote:
bk1 wrote:
dingbat wrote:
bk1 wrote:TLS calls pretty much any low paying, private practicenon-biglaw, non-fed. clerkship gig shitlaw.

Eh, not really. Wouldn't call public interest stuff (e.g. DA, ACLU, PD, etc) or other government positions shitlaw.

No, but a lot of it is treated like god - something you know exists, but no one ever actually comes across.

Lol terrible analogy. We don't know god exists like we know those jobs exist.

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dingbat
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby dingbat » Sun Jan 20, 2013 1:18 pm

nmop_apisdn wrote:We don't know god exists like we know those jobs exist.

Calling unam

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dowu
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby dowu » Sun Jan 20, 2013 1:22 pm

dingbat wrote:
nmop_apisdn wrote:We don't know god exists like we know those jobs exist.

Calling unam

Lol

BeenDidThat
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby BeenDidThat » Sun Jan 20, 2013 1:42 pm

scifiguy wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:More likely, you'll be working for low wages but lots of stress (there was a great post somewhere about how law is one of the few professions where the work was both high stress and boring), dealing with generally uneducated and violent clients, doing a lot of rote work and from what I've heard have a tough time collecting your fees. The work is not like on TV, where every case is neatly wrapped up in a bow after 30 minutes.

I'm curious about this too.

When dealing with alleged criminals, do you lawyers ever have to fear for their own safety? Criminal law seems maybe the least appealing to me out of them all.

I don't know how I'd emotionally handle working with people alleged to have commited crimes like rape or murder. Do you have to talk to your clients outside of the job in the community if you see them?

cynthiad wrote:I think it depends on the type of criminal defense. If you're defending DUIs for peanuts, that's shitlaw. If you're defending rich white-collar criminals (or even rich people accused of other crimes) that's a different story. Plenty of biglaw lawyers do criminal defense, but it's as different from "shitlaw" criminal defense as writing wills in shitlaw is from doing T&E in a biglaw firm.


What's T & E?


You don't have to fear for your own safety doing crim defense. I'd be much more fearful of handling divorces. Of course, crim defense probably carries a higher risk of client-caused violence hurting the lawyer than, say, doing M&A work, but unless you're talking about severely mentally ill clients (where fear may well be a good instinct to have), the vast majority of defendants (and yes, most of them have committed crimes) understand that: (1) you're the only one on their side; (2) they benefit from your continuing survival; (3) people know of your relationship; (4) it's harder to get away with a crime against somebody who you have a known relationship with; and (5) it's not worth the risk.

As a general note to the OP, I don't think people really look down on crim defense that much. Some prosecutorial-minded folks might talk shit about the other side, but who cares? If anything, crim defense gets short shrift here because it generally doesn't pay well right out of the gates. When you can make 160k, making 40-50k sounds downright miserable. And understandably so. But if you can persevere in practicing crim defense, you can do quite well for yourself. Most of the crim defense lawyers I know do DWIs but also handle more serious crimes, though they may not handle the real bad ones (rape, kidnap, murder). I don't know their finances exactly, but if you're handling 30 DWIs at 5k each, each of those lasts about a year, and you handle maybe 10 felonies at 15-20k each for 2 years, you're talking about revenues of 475k over two years, or 237.5k/year. Cut half out for administrative & overhead, then tax that half, you're ending up somewhere around 100k/year. That's not a bad living. After 20 years of practice, start handling cap murders, and you can charge hundreds of thousand for each case and end up quite wealthy.

fluffythepenguin
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Re: Why is criminal defense looked down upon on this site?

Postby fluffythepenguin » Sun Jan 20, 2013 1:47 pm

scifiguy wrote:When dealing with alleged criminals, do you lawyers ever have to fear for their own safety? Criminal law seems maybe the least appealing to me out of them all.


I asked a former public defender if he ever was afraid of his clients, and his response was something to the effect of "No, not at all! You're their best friend in the world!"




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