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How can I decide between becoming a defense lawyer or the prosecution.

I don't know how to decide between defense and prosecution, what are some push/pulls or pros/cons?

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DENNIS’s Answer

Hi Addie; Becoming a lawyer ofers a ton of options - from being a prosecutor to being a criminal defense lawyer. There are also Civil defense lawyers and plaintiffs lawyers. Your journey through school may change your goals. Go in with an open mind. Get through the basic courses. If you want to be in the Courtroom take trial practice courses. I know a ton of lawyers who have never been to court and never want to go to Court. Addie, the courses open up a host of possibilities. If you want to get into criminal law - tke crim law and crim procedure,Take criminal trial courses and get into moot court to learn how to argue appeals. Good luck. Enjoy the journey!
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Sam’s Answer

Hi Addie, great question. In short, as others have stated, you would not need to choose between prosecution or defense in order to specialize in the practice of criminal law, as working one side or the other still deals with the same rules and procedures,. You will gain valuable experience and insight by working on either side and can easily switch back and forth as your gained expertise will be directly related either way.
As Dennis already suggested, most criminal law work will involve presenting legal arguments in the courtroom and dealing with your local court rules and procedures, so if you decide that criminal law is where you want to go, be sure to get as much exposure to criminal law & procedure courses and moot court, and seek out internship/externship opportunities within your local court system.
Hope this helps, and good luck on your journey!
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Kim’s Answer

Addie,

This is not an either/or decision! Many new lawyers work in the prosecutors office. Some stay there, some leave. Some become defense attorneys. For a future defense attorney, this early experience gives you insight into how the prosecutor's office works - such as how they handle their plea bargains.

As a police officer, after retiring, I worked for criminal defense and Civil Rights attorneys. My experience as a police officer helped me tremendously.

I'll let someone else weigh in on the pro's and con's, as I've never been an attorney.
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Elaine’s Answer

Whether to be a prosecutor or criminal defense attorney comes down to your personality and what makes you sleep better at night. People who may favor the prosecutor side may feel like they are seeking justice and helping the community by making sure there are consequences to crimes. You need to be ok working with law enforcement. People who may favor defense generally feel that every defendant is due fair representation, regardless of background. They may feel that the system is stacked against their client. In any event, a lawyer working in criminal law and participating in trials should be ok with public speaking, thinking on their feet, and unexpected curveballs happening frequently.

If you would like to get a more realistic sense of the offices, you may be able to volunteer at a prosecutor or public defender's office. Some cities have volunteer programs. And some schools offer clinics that partner with prosecutor/defender offices. Many schools offer mock trials to help suss out what side you may be interested in.
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