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If you are interested in pursuing criminal law as a career path in Canada, it will be necessary to attend a law school within the country. Before that, you will need to earn an undergraduate degree and then gain admission to a law school.
A typical course of study for law students takes a total of three years, after which they will embark upon an apprenticeship period commonly referred to as "articling." During this time, prospective lawyers work under the close supervision of an attorney already in practice, receiving an entry-level salary.
When an individual has been articling for a given period of time, he or she will be "called to the bar," meaning that they have achieved the right to begin practicing as a lawyer on their own.
Criminal defense lawyers spend their time defending individuals or groups who are under accusation of wrongdoing. Their work can encompass cases involving allegations of crimes against individual persons, the public or other organizations within society.
While defending clients, criminal lawyers conduct significant research and investigative work so that they can provide the best possible representation. Criminal attorneys have a duty to exercise the utmost diligence in defending the accused, and it is important to remember that everyone is presumed innocent unless and until their guilt is established in a court of law.
Criminal law is a practice area which can be arduous, time-consuming and stressful. However, it can be rather lucrative and it often affords practitioners a degree of professional prestige that other realms cannot.
It is important for criminal defense attorneys to be well-spoken and to come across as an authority on the law. While these are characteristics that can certainly be practiced, it helps to have an innate set of abilities in this regard. Given that criminal matters tend to be very fact-intensive, it is also vital that a criminal lawyer be willing to dedicate substantial amounts of time to research and case investigation.
Practitioners in this area of the law need to be able to conduct comprehensive examinations of key evidence and apply the facts to the relevant statues and prior case law. Persuasive arguments must then be crafted in order to convince a judge or a jury that the client being represented is not guilty of the charges they are facing.
Successful criminal defense attorneys need to possess great skill in getting along with all sorts of people and be able to read personalities well. Because such professionals may often find themselves defending individuals who did in fact commit the crime of which they are accused, the ability to negotiate downward departures in potential penalties is also essential.