Careers in Criminal Litigation
Criminal prosecutors can be found in the offices of state's attorneys, state attorneys general, and the U.S. Attorney General as well as in state and federal agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Drug Enforcement Agency. They can also be found in the U.S. military, where trials are prosecuted and defendants represented by attorneys for the Judge Advocate General's Corps.
Defense lawyers can be found in solo private practices and in small to large law firms as well as in the offices of state public defenders, state appellate public defenders, and the Federal Public Defender. Clients can range from individuals charged with crimes to a wide variety of organizations, including corporations, financial institutions, and government entities.
In a typical day criminal litigators may draft, file, and argue motions; argue cases at the trial level before judges and juries; or argue conviction appeals. They may investigate the facts of cases or interview witnesses. They may meet with clients, research relevant law, or develop prosecution or defense strategies. Prosecutors may decide whether to bring charges after police investigations are complete, while defense attorneys may negotiate for lower bail or plea-bargain to lesser charges to avoid trial.
Criminal lawyers benefit from strong legal writing and research skills as well as outstanding oral advocacy skills. During law school criminal litigation students can gain valuable experience as externs with prosecutors' and public defenders' offices and as judicial clerks with trial and appellate judges at both the state and federal levels. Many also compete on their law schools' interscholastic trial and appellate advocacy teams.
Related Chicago-Kent offerings:
- Trial Advocacy
- Moot Court Honor Society
- Externship Program
- Criminal Defense Litigation Clinic
Chicago-Kent offers a J.D. Certificate in Criminal Litigation and numerous experiential learning opportunities for students who are interested in careers as prosecutors or criminal defense attorneys.
— Learn about the certificate program curriculum and requirements
— View J.D. courses relating to criminal litigation
Related: Chicago-Kent also offers an LL.M. in Trial Advocacy for International Students
Visit the J.D. Certificate Program in Criminal Litigation faculty page to learn about Chicago-Kent faculty who teach courses relating to criminal law and litigation skills.
Academic Centers and Institutes
The Justice John Paul Stevens Jury Center is a website that serves as a clearinghouse for information about the jury to academics, students, judges, lawyers and members of the press and public.
The Criminal Law Society of Chicago-Kent is committed to building awareness of criminal law issues and providing opportunities to engage with other students and professionals interested in criminal law through speaker events, panel discussions, networking functions, and other interactions with society members and practitioners within the field.
The Federal Bar Association Chicago-Kent Law Student Division supports the interests and needs of Chicago-Kent law students aspiring to federal practice, both public and private, and seeks to strengthen student interest and knowledge of the federal legal system.