Criminal Defense Attorneys are a Special Breed – Does Yours Possess These Qualities?

Criminal law is one of the most complex and difficult areas of law. So it takes a special kind of person to be a criminal defense attorney. They have to work with clients and prove they’re innocent of crimes that range from misdemeanors, such as shop lifting, to felonies, like murder.

All attorneys are intelligent and have and a specific aptitude to understanding the laws and complicated legal practices. But, in order for a criminal defense attorney to be successful at trial, he or she needs to have added skills.  Below, we’ll take a look at some of these skills and why they’re so important for every successful criminal defense attorney to have along with their law degree.

The lives of their clients are literally their hands. Criminal defense attorneys have to present the best case possible for their clients, and the difference between winning and losing is the loss of freedom for whom they’re representing in many cases.

So if you’ve been charged with a crime and are interviewing potential criminal defense attorneys, you can make sure they have the following skills—and you can pick up on most of them after just a short conversation.

Here are a few of the skills, knowledge, work values and styles every criminal defense attorney needs to have Skills:

CriminalDefenseAttorney_210820140452•    Speaking and listening.  A criminal defense attorney has to speak and convey information effectively, as well as listen to what others are saying.

•    Critical thinking.  Defense lawyers need a strong ability to use logic and reasoning to pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions and/or approaches to problems.

•    Critical reasoning. It is important for criminal defense attorneys to synthesize information, assess evidence, and make inferences and deductions based on facts (not feelings). Although this skill can be taught to a certain degree, because of its importance it is necessary that critical reasoning comes naturally to them.

•    Complex problem solving.  They have to pinpoint complex problems and review related information to develop and access options so they can carry out solutions.

•    Stamina.  Criminal defense attorneys work long hours. Some of this work is researching, which is time consuming, and interviewing, which means waiting around sometimes for people to get back to them.

•    Coordination.  They often have to adjust actions in relation to the actions of others.

•    Service Orientation.  Defense attorneys have to actively look for ways to help people.


•    Psychology.  Criminal defense attorneys need to possess knowledge of human behavior and performance. They need to recognize individual differences in interests, ability, and personality, as well as motivation and learning.

•    Law and government.  To successfully practice criminal law, criminal defense attorneys have to know laws, court procedures, legal codes, government regulations, precedents, agency rules, executive orders, along with the democratic political process.

•    Client and personal service. Defense attorneys have to know principles and processes to provide client and personal services, including assessing customer needs, meeting quality standards, and evaluating client satisfaction.

•    Management and administration.  Criminal defense attorneys are strategic thinkers and planners, so they need knowledge of management and business principles—as well as re-allocating resources, leadership, production methods and coordination of resources and people.

Work styles and values:

•    Integrity.  Criminal defense attorneys have to be honest and ethical.

•    Dependability.  Criminal lawyers have to be reliable, dependable, responsible, and they have to fulfill their obligations.

•    High stress tolerance.  The nature of their job requires that they accept criticism and deal calmly and effectively in stressful situations.

•    Strong self control.  Criminal attorneys have to always maintain composure and keep their emotions under control while controlling anger and avoiding aggressive behavior—often in very difficult situations.

•    Flexible and adaptable.  Practicing criminal law requires that attorneys are always open to change, either positive or negative, and that they have the ability to deal with a considerable amount of variety in their workplace.

Criminal law is an area of law that has many challenges. Most legal cases, besides criminal cases, are settled out of court, so criminal defense attorneys try more cases before a judge and jury in a courtroom than any other attorney. As a result, defense lawyers hone their skills so they are very adept at their jobs.

A criminal defense attorney doesn’t just take notes, go to court, and say a few words until—poof!—the case is finished and their client goes home. There’s much more involved. Not just any lawyer can practice in this area; criminal defense attorneys are a special breed.

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