Defense Attorney Career Information, Job Outlook & Salary

Defense Attorney

Defense Attorney Career Overview

Are you a champion of the underdog? If you want to use your analytical and language skills to help get people out of trouble, you'll want to put defense attorney at the top of your list of career options. A defense attorney represents the accused in a case involving a prosecutor and defendant. Defense attorneys perform a variety of tasks, such as interview clients, research cases and the law, file motions with the court, review evidence from law enforcement agencies, and form defenses for clients. Sometimes they work behind the scenes to negotiate deals with prosecutors, particularly if the case is clear-cut and the guilt of the accused is obvious. Many defense attorneys work in private practice. Areas of specialty can include any criminal activity, including

  • Drug offenses
  • Embezzlement and fraud
  • Juvenile crime
  • Theft and burglary
  • Domestic violence


Defense Attorney Education

Lawyers generally need four-year college degrees and three years of law school. In addition, they must pass their state's bar examination. Aspiring lawyers enter law school with a variety of majors, including philosophy, communications, and criminal justice degrees. There are myriad law schools to choose from; some even offer an online degree in law.

Defense Attorney Salary & Employment

Lawyers held about 761,000 jobs in 2006. More than one quarter of practicing attorneys were self-employed, either through law firms or in individual practices.

Defense Attorney Job Description

Jobs for lawyers are expected to increase approximately 11 percent through 2016. Because of the growing complexity of law and the cost of maintaining up-to-date research materials, larger, established law firms will see the most growth.

Defense Attorney Salary Range

*Salaries for defense attorneys range from $54,460 to $163,320.

*Bureau of Labor Statistics

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