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Child defense attorneys, also called juvenile criminal defense attorneys, represent minors charged with crimes. They work in federal, state, city and county judicial systems for private law firms or government entities.
Aspiring child defense lawyers must have a bachelor's degree for admission to an accredited law school. They then must earn a juris doctor (J.D.) degree. Child defense attorneys must pass the multistate bar examination (MBE) to practice law in all American states and the District of Columbia, with the exceptions of Louisiana and Washington.
Child defense attorneys advise clients and parents about legal strategies and potential outcomes. They interview and prepare clients for trials and argue their cases in courtrooms. Child defense attorneys interact with judicial clerks, judges, law enforcement officers, law clerks, parents, private investigators and expert witnesses.
Successful child defense attorneys must communicate complicated legal concepts to young clients in easy-to-understand language. They must use critical thinking and reasoning skills before and during legal proceedings. Child defense attorneys must have excellent writing, reading, research, speaking and persuasive skills.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, lawyers earned an average hourly wage of $62.03 and an average annual salary of $129,020 as of May 2009. Lawyers earned salaries ranging from a low of $55,270 to a high of $113,240.