Become a Defense Attorney | Criminal Justice Programs

Defense Attorney

You’ve probably seen defense attorneys in action on television on your favorite court drama, but did you know how much work really goes into this demanding career? One of the cornerstones of the American justice system is a fair criminal trial for anyone accused of a crime. If you want to learn more about criminal justice programs that can prepare you for a career as a defense attorney, use our search tools to request more information today!

Defense Attorney Job Description

This career can often demand long nights and tough weeks. Even before a case goes to trial, you may spend hundreds of hours gathering evidence, creating a case, and looking for weaknesses in your own and the defense’s case. When you go to court, you may spend a long time making your case to the jury and trying to support your client.

Being a defense attorney may also mean being in the public eye, particularly if you play a role in high-profile cases. For example, lawyers for Steven Avery, the subject of the popular Netflix documentary Making a Murderer, had to give frequent press conferences to defend their client since public opinion skewed so heavily against him.

Defense attorneys, rather than helping those who want to bring a suit against a company or person, represent those who have been arrested or accused of a crime. This may mean that they take on pro-bono cases or support those who cannot afford to pay for representation. If you want to uphold one of the core tenets of our justice system and don’t mind working difficult cases, you may thrive in a career as a defense attorney.

How to Become a Defense Attorney

Becoming a defense attorney does require a lot of education and targeted work experience, but following these steps can help you get a career that you find enjoyable and fulfilling.

Education Requirements

You need to begin with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. You may find it helpful to start with a degree in criminal justice, as the courses required in this major can give you a good background in the criminal justice field. You may take courses like Introduction to Criminology, Law Enforcement Administration, Correctional Administration, and Criminal Investigation. If you have a bachelor’s degree in another field, you may still be able to continue your education in this field.

After you earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or another field, you need to go to law school and get a law degree. Upon graduation, you should have a J.D. (Juris Doctorate). You may take classes like Advanced Comparative Constitutional Law, Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, and Corporation Law. Throughout the course of this degree, you can gain experience in different legal settings.

You may have to get outside work experience while earning your bachelor’s degree and law degree. Getting a competitive position may be easier if you volunteer for social service agencies, complete an internship at a local law firm, or work at the courtroom.Once you have your degree, you must take a bar examination. This tests your knowledge of the law and is required for licensure as an attorney in your state. Once you have passed the bar examination, you can begin the process of applying for your attorney license. With an attorney license, you can officially begin working as a defense attorney in your state. However, you may need to get specialized experience in criminal law before you can apply for a job with a law firm. This may involve working in the public sector for several years if you do not have relevant work experience.

Defense Attorney Salary and Career Outlook

As a defense attorney, you may have a fairly solid job outlook to look forward to. From 2016 to 2026, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job openings for lawyers to increase at an average rate when compared to other professions. During this time period, that works out to an estimated 65,000 job openings across the country. The job outlook is better in certain states. In Nevada, job openings are expected to increase by 31%, while job growth for lawyers in New Mexico will only grow by 1%.

Defense lawyers may earn a competitive range of salaries, particularly in larger cities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for an attorney is $119,250. In Washington, D.C., the average salary for a lawyer is $189,560. The mean wage in Montana is on the lower end, with average salaries ranging from $72,970 to $102,040.

Defense attorneys are incredibly important in the American justice system, providing legal support to those who need it most. Learn more about criminal justice schools in your area. Request information about programs today to get started!

How to Become a Legal Nurse Consultant | Criminal Justice Programs

Legal Nurse Consultant

When you combine medical expertise with legal know-how you get a legal nurse consultant. Legal nurse consultants are fully trained and officially certified nurses who consult on health care related legal cases.

Legal Nurse Consultant Job Description

Legal nurse consultants may work for medical organizations like hospitals or can freelance as legal consultants to law firms, insurance companies and other institutions. Some insurance companies or law firms specializing in medical cases may keep a full-time legal nurse consultant on staff. Most often, legal nurse consultants work on cases involving charges of medical fraud or liability claims issues.

The legal nurse consultant may be asked to review upcoming cases to see if they are worth pursuing, serve as a point-of-connection between medical professionals and law offices or perform medical research pertinent to the case. An average day on the job can involve any of these duties, as well as meetings with lawyers and clients. In some cases, a legal nurse consultant will also be called upon as a witness in order to offer expert medical testimony during a trial.

How to Become a Legal Nurse Consultant

Given the specialized medical and legal knowledge that is required to serve as a legal nurse consultant, it shouldn’t come as surprise that a substantial level of education is required to break into the business. Most legal nurse consultants start by becoming a registered nurse, which in most cases means at least a four-year bachelor’s degree. After studying nursing, those hoping to become legal nurse consultants are advised to receive legal education in areas such as criminal law and medical ethics. In general, a legal nurse consultant is expected to have a few years of experience in nursing and in many cases a certification as a legal nurse consultant. Although such legal training and certification is not required, it can greatly improve job prospects and is recommended by the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants.

Legal Nurse Consultant Salary and Career Outlook

In 2017, registered nurses earned an average median salary of $70,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Legal nurse consultants working for law firms or insurance companies usually work on an hourly rate and can command as much as $130 per hour. Salaries for legal nurse consultants employed on a full-time basis by law firms or insurance companies can range into the six-figure digits. Career outlook for legal nurse consultants, as with almost all jobs in the medical field, is expected to be excellent in the future.

In the past, career sites have listed legal nurse consulting and a similar career path, nurse paralegal, on a top ten list of hot careers. In addition, job prospects are expected to be good as demand for registered nurses increases in response to a shortage of new nurses entering the field.

Legal Nurse Consultant Resources