This post is featured on behalf of Stacey White.


When you think of a criminal defense lawyer you’re probably basing whatever image of them you have on TV shows and movies.

Late nights spent poring over endless boxes of documents, searching for that key detail that you can use to break a case wide open in court the next day.

Spending every day dealing with high profile cases that are incredibly exciting would be great but the reality is quite different. What exactly is the day to day life of a criminal defense attorney actually like?

 

Training

None of the TV shows and movies ever show you the boring bit where lawyers have to actually train, it wouldn’t make a thrilling movie after all, but people don’t just step into a job as a lawyer.

It takes a good few years to get qualified, starting with an undergraduate degree. Then you need to do three years in law school before you can begin practicing any type of law. 

Court

As a criminal lawyer, you’ll spend most of your days in court, arguing cases, but it isn’t always going to be as exciting as it is in the movies.

For example, DUI lawyers won’t usually have any amazing evidence that they can bring out at the climax of the case. Instead, it’ll be a fairly shut and dry case most of the time. Other criminal lawyers will be dealing with things like fraud that aren’t going to be the high pressure cases that you see on TV.

That doesn’t mean that the excitement that you see on the in the movies doesn’t exist at all. In a case, you won’t have a clue what the opposing side is going to come up with so you always have to think on your feet. That can make for a pretty tense situation and lots of lawyers say that they get a buzz from it.

Work Hours

The amount of hours that you work as a lawyer is something that they get right on the big screen. Court cases themselves can take up a huge amount of time and involve a lot of long sessions but it doesn’t stop there.

When you get out of the courtroom you’ll have to spend your evenings looking through lots of evidence if you’re ever going to stand a chance of winning. The hours that you’ll work aren’t regular either which is a struggle for some people. You’ll often be called into court at very short notice, or have to find something to combat a defense that you weren’t expecting.

That means that it’s hard for lawyers to have a good social life because they can’t usually keep plans and don’t get that many vacations.  

This might have ruined your idealistic picture of being a lawyer but if you’re considering it as a career based on what you’ve seen in movies, you’ll be surprised at the reality of the situation. 

Recommended Reading

What It’s Like To Get Your Master’s Degree Online Before you enroll in an online master's degree program, consider these pros and cons.
The Twenty-Something’s Guide to Leaving the 9-to-5 These are the four basic steps for creating your own job opportunity and leaving 9-to-5 life behind.