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How to Become a Criminal Lawyer

Criminal Lawyer

Criminal law is one of society’s toughest and most complex current issues. In 2021, there were 694,050 violent-crime incidents, and 817,020 offenses reported in the United States. Evidently, the system needs some fine-tuning. If you are passionate about impacting social justice and public interest from the inside out, GGU’s hybrid JD Flex Program has the perfect career path for you. 


At Golden Gate University School of Law, earn your Juris Doctor while paving the way to making the world a more equitable place for all. It sounds idealistic, so you might wonder how to really get there. If this feels familiar, read on, because we’re discussing exactly how to become a criminal lawyer with the JD Flex’s Social Justice and Public Interest Law career track.

Get into Law School

Getting into law school means researching schools that meet your needs and preparing your application for admission. As you choose your future law school, consider important factors such as:

  • Scholarships & Cost
  • Location
  • Areas of Specialization
  • Format that Fits Your Life

Golden Gate University is advantageously located in the heart of San Francisco’s legal, financial, and technology hub. This is beneficial when it comes to living in a city of opportunity, whether for networking or job openings. Our hybrid JD program gives you the flexibility to make the most of San Francisco without sacrificing convenience. You’re able to blend online coursework with campus coursework, allowing you to fit your educational goals in with your obligations of daily life. 

Take Courses and Externships in Criminal Law

Criminal law is a core course taken by law students. Beyond that elementary foundation, it is up to the student to enroll in additional courses that will deepen their knowledge of the field they want to pursue. GGU has a Social Justice & Public Interest Law track that prepares you for a career in criminal defense or prosecution. With a curriculum that combines theory and practice, you’ll develop real-world social justice skills that give you the tools to make a serious difference for all.


Nationally recognized professors will be teaching you, and alumni are available to lend a hand with networking. Some of our distinguished professors and alumni are criminal litigators serving the most renowned public defenders in the country, including the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office and attorneys at progressive D.A. offices such as the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. This can help with externships and even job placement later on down the line. 

Become an Attorney and Work in the Field

Once you’ve graduated law school, you’ll need to pass the bar exam and get sworn in as an attorney. At this point, you get to work within the justice system as a criminal lawyer. Whether you’re employed as a defense attorney, in prosecution, or do pro bono work, you’ll be prepared for a career in which you use the law as a tool for justice.


How long does it take to become a criminal lawyer? The timeline varies, but if you enroll in GGU’s hybrid JD Flex program you can earn your degree in less than four years, even if you’re working full time.

GGU’ Hybrid JD Flex Program is Your Next Step

Golden Gate University gives you legal skills to not only be an attorney, but an advocate. As a criminal lawyer, advocacy is a part of the career. Our focused career track gives you a competitive edge in that field. If public interest law is the law you want to pursue, contact Golden Gate University today to get started.

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