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6 Challenges of Being A Criminal Lawyer

Criminal lawyers experience many challenges in their profession. In this post, let’s look at what some of those are.

By Bianca BandaPublished 6 months ago 5 min read

Law is the governing system that keeps things in order in life. Without the law, life would be more chaotic and unfair than it is now. Having a justice system and set of rules allows us to enjoy life rightfully without harming others. And since many actions could affect a person’s life, various types of law govern every nature of actions and decisions.

One of the exciting things about becoming a lawyer is choosing a field to specialise in. As a law student, you can choose a law practice you like to work on in your career. One of the most preferable types is criminal law.

Criminal lawyers cover cases that can be controversial and massive that we come across in the news. They work on sensitive, emotionally draining, and heinous cases that could be life-altering for their clients. Defending a righteous criminal case and giving justice to innocent defendants is life-changing. However, criminal lawyers experience many challenges in their profession. In this post, let’s look at what some of those are.

1 - Their cases precede their reputation.

One of the challenges of becoming a criminal lawyer is carrying their reputation. Since criminal lawyers handle and represent clients with malicious and controversial cases, their image depends on their clients. We know it’s a lawyer’s responsibility to defend their clients regardless of whether they’re the plaintiff or defendant. And since criminal lawyers can either represent the two, how the public perceives the case–and their client affects them.

It’s challenging for lawyers to maintain a “clean” image once they handle a controversial case. Even if they’re only doing their job, the cases they manage and the people they work with affect them.

2 - Working long, long, long hours.

Yes, every lawyer works for long hours. However, in most cases, criminal lawyers work longer, especially if they’re handling a controversial case. Criminal law tackles issues concerning crimes and human life. On top of that, it’s very complex.

Regardless of their client’s stand, a criminal lawyer needs to defend their client. That means that whether the evidence shows that their client is in the wrong, they still need to look for rebuttals and claims that would prove otherwise because it’s their job.

3 - Dealing with emotionally draining cases and people.

Some crimes under criminal law are murder, domestic violence, homicide, assault and battery, sexual assault, and more. It’s no lie that hearing news about those cases is emotionally draining already. Can you imagine how it would feel if you were dealing with people involved in a criminal crime?

One of the most impressive traits of lawyers is their professionalism in communicating with various people. If you want to become a criminal lawyer, you must remember that you’ll handle cases daily that could leave you with emotional baggage. That’s why knowing how to separate your work from your personal life and reminding yourself that your work is not who you are is crucial in being a criminal lawyer.

4 - Can cause trauma.

Aside from the emotional baggage criminal lawyers experience with their cases, they are also very prone to trauma. Since they expose themselves to traumatising and life-altering incidents that take a lot of emotional toll, the chances of experiencing trauma are high.

According to, criminal lawyers experience PTSD, like war veterans. It’s one thing to read and hear news about criminal cases and another to associate yourself with a case and undergo the process of defending a plaintiff or defendant. That’s why having people they can rely on is critical as well. Regular check-ups with psychiatrists will also help to maintain their mental and emotional well-being at their best state.

5 - The challenge of defending “guilty” clients.

I mentioned earlier that lawyers defend all types of people because it’s their duty. The truth is, they don’t represent the right clients all the time. There are cases when they have to defend a guilty client.

It’s difficult because it goes against their values, beliefs, and character. Some lawyers can choose the clients they represent. But others don’t have a choice but to defend a case assigned to them, even if it goes against their value system.

6 - The tight competition among criminal lawyers.

Lastly, criminal lawyers also struggle to find clients to represent and defend in court. Since a lawyer’s fee varies depending on their skills, past cases, experience, and firm, many criminal lawyers find it hard to seal a case with a client because of the competition.

That’s why, even though a lawyer wants to choose the cases she represents, some don’t have a choice but to work on a case they don’t resonate with to make a living. But on the brighter side, working on cases they don’t resonate with allows them to grow and improve their skills. It also allows them to explore various scenarios that may be handy in the future.

Being a criminal lawyer is more challenging than most of us think.

Indeed, being a criminal lawyer is more challenging than most of us think and assume. Aside from these six challenges I shared, there are more that they go through in their daily career. Like us, they’re doing their best to meet their responsibilities and serve their clients in the best way possible.

Written by Bianca Banda

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