First, make sure that you know that becoming a lawyer who is interested in the defense of others. There are many ways to arrange this, but one great way to figure out if this is what you are after is to shadow real defense lawyers. Defense attorneys can be found practicing privately and practicing for the state, and if you are interested in either of these professions, take the time to really get intimate with it. Make sure that you speak to someone who has done the job and really consider what your problems are going to be if you are in a place where the job might get to you. There are seminars that you can go to that will teach you a lot, and you will find that taking a look at these sessions can teach you a lot.
After you have made sure that you want to be a defense lawyer, it is time for you to take a serious look at your education. You will complete an undergraduate degree from an accredited university and then you are going to need to study for the LSAT. The LSAT score will determine which school you are going to be able to get into. You will be able to attend law school as a full-time or part-time student. One advantage of being a part-time student in law school is that you may be in a spot where you can pursue government related jobs that will help you decide whether or not this is the path that you are going to be the most interested in.
After you have passed the bar exam, chances are good that you are going to need to spend a few years working as a public defender in a city government. This is essential in a number of different ways, especially if you are working in a city that you intend to stay in. You can use this job to really figure out who the movers and shakers in the city are and what the top lawyers know and where they come from. This can be an invaluable experience, even if there are defense lawyers that look back on this time in their life with a nervous shudder. Consider the fact that you are going to need to work in a very demanding environment.
From there, it is time to decide if you want to work in the private sector or in the public one. Both of these options are going to be open to you. You will find that public defenders will tend to work cases that are going to be more about the ethics of the situation rather than the money. You will find that on the other hand, private firms offer more money and more prestige. There are reasons to do either, so make sure that you really consider what you want out of life and what kind of imprint you want to make on the justice system.
When you have decided, it is time to interview with your chosen firms and to commit. This is a crucial time in your career, so take some time and really think about what you want and what you can do to lay out the groundwork for your future as a defense lawyer.
It's amazing how many 1L Summer Associate positions I found on LawCrossing, thank you!
LawCrossing Fact #106: We’ve got great resources. Behind every great search engine are a lot of great search engines. Get all your results here!