Defense Lawyer

Argue on behalf of an accused person or organization in a trial.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$75,000 – $165,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Defense Lawyers do?

Defense Lawyers represent people accused of a crime in both civil and criminal trials. Every person is entitled to a Defense Lawyer to provide legal counsel and help exonerate him or her from any charges filed.

If you’ve seen legal dramas or live trials on television, you are probably familiar with the phrase, “beyond a reasonable doubt.” As a Defense Lawyer, you supply the doubt. Your client is automatically innocent until the Prosecutor proves that he or she did it. In criminal trials, it’s your job to plant seeds of uncertainty that would cause a reasonable person to believe your client may not have committed the crime.

In civil trials, however, the burden of proof is substantially lower because your client cannot be given a prison sentence. Punishments in civil cases are strictly monetary. Here, you need to develop stronger and more convincing arguments that focus on proving your client’s innocence to a jury.

Like every Defense Lawyer, from high profile ones like F. Lee Bailey to state-appointed Public Defenders, you have a duty to do everything in you capacity to help your clients, but some limitations exist. For instance, you cannot call a witness that will intentionally lie. If you do, a judgment in favor of your client could get thrown out and the state can file charges against you. It’s also up to you whether or not you want to know if your client really did commit the crime. It can be hard for some Defense Lawyers on a moral and ethical level to know they helped a guilty person go free.

Should I be a Defense Lawyer?

You should have a doctoral degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Calm Under Pressure: You keep your cool when dealing with highly stressful situations.
  • Logical Thinker: You take a step-by-step approach to analyze information and solve problems.

  • How to become a Defense Lawyer

    Most Defense Lawyers have a Doctorate. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aaaaf9&chl=||||master%27s+%288%25%29|doctorate+%2892%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,92
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