Do criminal defense attorneys make a lot of money?

Lawyers in the Northeast would earn 10 to 20 percent more, on average, than lawyers in the Deep South or Midwest. Lawyers with 10 to 12 years of experience can earn twice as much as new lawyers, according to the Internet Legal Research Group. However, some private lawyers provide criminal defense services and generally charge by the hour, day, or case. The Internet Legal Research Group estimates that a lawyer in a large city like Atlanta would earn nearly 40 percent more than a lawyer with the same experience practicing in a smaller city like Macon, Georgia.

Most criminal defense lawyers and all criminal prosecutors are government employees and earn a salary. Salary estimates are based on 38 salaries sent anonymously to Glassdoor by employees of a criminal defense attorney in the New York City, New York area. If you are considering becoming a criminal defense attorney or planning the next step in your career, find details about the position, career path, and salary trajectory of a criminal defense lawyer. Public defenders are criminal defense lawyers who are paid to defend citizens accused of criminal acts that they cannot or do not want to pay a private lawyer.

Private defense attorneys who bill by the hour usually charge hundreds of dollars per hour, while those who bill daily usually charge thousands of dollars per day. According to O*Net Online and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, all attorneys, regardless of practice area, must complete law school, which generally involves three years of full-time graduate study after completing their undergraduate work, and then passing the bar exam in the state or states in which the law the school graduate wishes to practice. Prosecutors work for city, county, state, or federal governments, while defense attorneys can work for governments, large law firms, or work on their own. The income of private defense lawyers depends heavily on the number of cases they take per year and how much they charge.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that lawyers who are willing to be flexible in the types of jobs they take, in addition to being open to relocation, may have the best job opportunities. The ABA Journal, for example, notes that lawyers working for any type of public interest organization often earn much less than lawyers in private practice. Some defense lawyers charge private clients high salaries, while others earn relatively modest salaries defending the poor and destitute. Those looking to become defense attorneys can choose to start their careers working for a public defender's office or a legal practice that specializes in criminal law.