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criminal law

laurawarelauraware Registered User Posts: 158 Junior Member
edited July 2007 in Law School
anyone on here have any experience with that field of law (like being a DA or a defender or something)? I have a mild interest in it, and I'd like to know more about it, so please tell me what the work is like.
Post edited by lauraware on
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Replies to: criminal law

  • nglez09nglez09 Registered User Posts: 186 Junior Member
    I too have an interest in that practice of law, as well as litigation.

    I've done some research on this topic and have also inquired to those who have experience in the field.

    Most cases are settled and so the ratio of number of tried cases to the number of crimes committed usually won't be that high.

    At my DA's office, a deputy district attorney (probably an ADA in most other jurisdictions) will work 9-5, will try about five cases per year and will make $55,000 starting out. The level of the cases being tried directly correlates to the salary. The DDA that tries misdemeanors will make the 55K, whereas the DDA who tries the murder and sex crimes will make 110K.

    The difference in salary depends on years of experience and competency to try such cases. The minimum years of experience required to be a level three DDA (which tries murder cases) is three.

    Most of these lawyers (though by no means all) graduated from more regional law schools.

    In terms of excitement, most cases you try will not be as exciting as those on TV.

    I hope I have helped a bit.
  • laurawarelauraware Registered User Posts: 158 Junior Member
    what exactly is litigation?
  • mssalesmssales Registered User Posts: 575 Member
    litigation falls along the lines of being in court and "arguing" a case. If you're a public defender or Assistant District Attorney, you'll be getting WAY more experience right out of law school than your corporate law counterparts. Pretty much right out of law school you'll be in court. Most criminal lawyers worked in clinics in law school or local counties interning for ADA's or public defender's offices. These jobs require you to have good grades in good law schools, but passion probably prevails as the main attribute because the pay is relatively low compared to corporate law.
  • lskinnerlskinner Registered User Posts: 914 Member
    what exactly is litigation?

    The work of most practicing attorneys can be divided between litigation and transactional work.

    Litigation means disputes, which are frequently heard by a court, but are sometimes heard by an arbitrator or an administrative agency. Transactions means any kind of deal, such as a real estate transaction, a corporate formation, a trust, or a will.

    Note that in much litigation nowadays, most of the action takes place outside of the courtroom -- in discovery. So it's incorrect to state that litigation means arguing cases in court. Particularly at BIG(f?)LAW. A BIG(f?)LAW litigation associate might go for years without actually arguing anything to a judge.
  • HannaHanna Registered User Posts: 14,687 Senior Member
    "so please tell me what the work is like."

    Be prepared for an emotional roller coaster if you care about your work. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Whether you're prosecuting or defending, there's tremendous responsibility on your shoulders, often starting when you're right out of law school. Someone's future is in your hands in almost every felony case. It can be very rewarding if you can cope with the ups and downs.
  • mssalesmssales Registered User Posts: 575 Member
    I wasn't referring to BigLaw. When are corporate lawyers actually in court? Sure they get paid a lot but the work is dull.
  • lskinnerlskinner Registered User Posts: 914 Member
    I wasn't referring to BigLaw. When are corporate lawyers actually in court? Sure they get paid a lot but the work is dull.

    What exactly were you referring to then? These corporate lawyers who get paid a lot -- where do you think they are working?
  • mssalesmssales Registered User Posts: 575 Member
    I'm referring to criminal law, where the attorneys are actually in court a considerable amount of time. BigLaw attorneys are hardly ever in court.
  • lskinnerlskinner Registered User Posts: 914 Member
    I'm referring to criminal law, where the attorneys are actually in court a considerable amount of time. BigLaw attorneys are hardly ever in court

    Sure, but criminal law is not the same thing as litigation. There is such thing as civil litigation, which is practiced both in and out of BIG(f?)LAW.

    Note also that there does exist a small number of BIG(f?)LAW attorneys who practice in the area of criminal law.
  • mssalesmssales Registered User Posts: 575 Member
    Yes, it's still white collar though right? Criminal lawyer assume the most responsibility right out of law school I contend. It's kind of like the responsibility a resident would get; or am I stretching it? I always though more people were interested in criminal law, but around here and on law campuses everyone is infatuated with corporate law, there are only some many of those jobs, and unless are T14, or a top student everyone else, most firms won't even look at you.
  • lskinnerlskinner Registered User Posts: 914 Member
    Yes, it's still white collar though right?

    Sure. And it's still criminal law.
    Criminal lawyer assume the most responsibility right out of law school I contend.

    That's generally true. And I don't disagree that law school grads who become prosecutors or criminal defense attorneys usually end up with a lot of responsibility straight out of law school. What's problematic is the exchange earlier in this thread:

    lauraware:
    what exactly is litigation?

    mssales:
    litigation falls along the lines of being in court and "arguing" a case. If you're a public defender or Assistant District Attorney, you'll be getting WAY more experience right out of law school than your corporate law counterparts. Pretty much right out of law school you'll be in court. Most criminal lawyers worked in clinics in law school or local counties interning for ADA's or public defender's offices. These jobs require you to have good grades in good law schools, but passion probably prevails as the main attribute because the pay is relatively low compared to corporate law.

    This is misleading because you seem to be drawing a distinction between (1) "litigation," which to you means going to court and assuming responsibility; (2) "corporate" law, which, according to you, pays a lot but gives you less responsibility.

    The fact is that there are plenty of litigation jobs that pay a lot and give little responsibility.

    Let me ask you this: How would you define "corporate" law?
  • mssalesmssales Registered User Posts: 575 Member
    I define corporate law as providing legal counsel to corporations. Like an antitrust law suit.

    I'm not saying only criminal attorneys litigate. However, if you don't mind me asking what types of attorneys litigate and have little responsibility.

    If I'm not mistaken you're an attorney correct?
  • lskinnerlskinner Registered User Posts: 914 Member
    I define corporate law as providing legal counsel to corporations. Like an antitrust law suit.

    "Litigation," as the word is commonly used among attorneys, would definitely include representing a corporation in an anti-trust lawsuit.
    However, if you don't mind me asking what types of attorneys litigate and have little responsibility.

    Associates who work in the litigation departments at large law firms. I was a litigation associate at large law firms for a number of years so I know from firsthand experience.
    If I'm not mistaken you're an attorney correct?

    Correct.
  • mssalesmssales Registered User Posts: 575 Member
    If I can pick your brain for a second, I want to be a criminal attorney, there is no other option, I'm sure of it. I'd preferebly like to work in the PD's office after graduation, but lets say that this doesn't happen, because every aspiring criminal defense attorney knows PD offices are the best training by far, what other options are there?
  • lskinnerlskinner Registered User Posts: 914 Member
    If I can pick your brain for a second, I want to be a criminal attorney, there is no other option, I'm sure of it. I'd preferebly like to work in the PD's office after graduation, but lets say that this doesn't happen, because every aspiring criminal defense attorney knows PD offices are the best training by far, what other options are there?

    There are a lot of other options. You can work in the prosecutor's office. Also, in some jurisdictions, representation of indigent defendants is contracted out to organizations or even individuals.

    Also, you could just get a job with a criminal defense attorney and hang out a shingle once you know what you're doing.

    Or you could even just hang out a shingle and advertise yourself as a criminal defense attorney. If you go this route, you might want to do some CLE's first and line up a few more experienced criminal defense attorneys to consult with as necessary.

    One thing about criminal defense work is that clients do shop around for price. So if you tell people that you will represent them on a traffic ticket for $50, you'll probably get business.

    By the way, you do realize that in criminal defense work, the vast majority of your clients are guilty and are dirtbags to boot, don't you?
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