Career in Criminal Law

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New York University School of Law

Forming amongst the core law subjects, criminal law offers exciting opportunities to work in areas of human rights, international law, and policy development as well as develop a practical understanding of prevalent issues of the death penalty, juvenile justice, cyber law, etc. As new avenues open up, establishing a Career in Law is no longer restricted to working in only courts of law but has expanded into human rights, social, and medical aid organizations as well as multinational companies. Read on to know more.

What does a Criminal Lawyer do? 

First and foremost, the job of a criminal lawyer is the most favoured but is also highly demanding and requires significant years of practice and a hands-on grasp of criminal law, justice, legal procedures and dispute resolution, amongst others. In particular, they act as legal representatives of clients in courts. Criminal lawyers are adept in negotiating, strategizing and persuasion and possess advanced knowledge of relevant cases. Common procedures that the professionals adept with criminal law deal with are bail bond hearings, trials, appeals in higher courts of law, plea bargains and settlements, etc. 

Also Read: How to Become a Lawyer

Career Prospects of Criminal Lawyer

Criminal law is very comprehensive and has applications in a multitude of areas. This thus opens the door for the graduates to explore various fields or industries where they can put their knowledge and skills to use. 

Human Rights Expert/Lawyer

The emergence of human rights as a full-fledged discipline at the start of the 21st century has led to a revived interest in this field. With opportunities of working in organizations like the International Criminal Court, the United Nations, and Amnesty International, as human rights experts/lawyers, one can expect to work on issues of extrajudicial execution, investigation of mass killings, torture, detention, and discrimination. Moreover, expertise gained can also be applied in areas of policy recommendations, legal alterations and reforms and so forth. 

Public Policy Expert/ Policy Analyst

Focusing particularly on public policy issues in relation to criminal law, a policy analyst works closely with government officials and assists in better formulation and implementation of crime-related legislation. Typical issues may include public safety, gender sensitivity, racial disparity in crimes and their investigation, fear and violence, community-law-enforcement official relations, etc.

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Forensic Science Expert

Forensic sciences now play a major role in deciding the course of modern-day crime investigations. With advanced computer technologies able to analyze DNA details, crime details, and even crime patterns, the demand for forensic science experts is only going to increase. Further, since criminal law involves working with evidence, its criminal implications and regulations, the experience here can help pave way for a vibrant career in criminal investigations.

Criminal Psychologist

For those influenced by Sigmund Freud, the profile of a criminal psychologist may just be made out for you. With a combination of criminal law and psychology, typical responsibilities involve researching questions such as why a criminal acts in a particular way, finding patterns and drawing conclusions, assisting in investigations, etc. Not only it requires a stronghold in law but also skills in research and analysis, critical thinking and communication. Many renowned past lawyers have gone on to become established names in criminal psychology.

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Some other Job Roles for Criminal Lawyer

Some of the job roles for Criminal Lawyers are given in detail below:

Government Advocate

Government Advocates are the advocates who are hired by the state or by the central government to represent them in court cases. To become a Government Advocate, recruitment exams are conducted by UPSC and State Level Public Commission. Government Advocates are selected on the basis of the same to represent the government. 

Government Pleader

A government Pleader is an officer appointed by the State Government to perform all the functions imposed by the Code of Civil Procedure on government leaders. The job role of the government pleader is to draft pleadings and pleads in a court of law. 

Public Prosecutor

The main job role of the Public Prosecutor is to represent the case from the stateside (state government) against the suspected criminal in a criminal case or in criminal prosecution. 

Criminal Law Practitioner 

The job role of a criminal law practitioner is to address key criminal law issues in such a way that is useful for lawyers, the judiciary, and students. 

Criminal Law: Courses & Universities

An advanced degree in criminal law is an important prerequisite for entering into more experienced roles in the judicial system as well as in public policy, policy analysis, human rights, criminology, justice, and research, amongst others. While the common law degree options include BBA LLB and LLB, qualifications such as LLM, MSc, and PhD. in Law are more favoured for the development of a multidimensional understanding. Glance over the following Law colleges and their course offerings: 

Name of UniversityLocationQS Rankings 2022Courses in Criminal Law [CL]
University of EdinburghUK16LLM CL & Criminal Justice
MSc Criminology & Criminal Justice
University of AmsterdamNetherlands 55LLM in International & Transnational CL [International CL]
Leiden UniversityNetherlands 87Advanced LLM in Public International Law- Intl Cl
University of Groningen Netherlands 128LLM in Global CL
PhD in Effective CL
University of California IrvineUSA232Master of Advanced Study in Criminology, Law & Society

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Criminal Law Specializations

The specializations of criminal law are given here:

  • Criminology and Forensic Science
  • Cyber Crime
  • Domestic Violence
  • Human Rights
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Crime against Women
  • Criminal Trial & Criminal Appeal
  • Murder, robbery, theft and kidnapping
  • Bail (Anticipatory & Regular), Criminal Revision, and Criminal Quashing
  • Anti-Hijacking Matters & Anti-Terrorist Matters

Top Colleges to Pursue a Career as a Criminal Lawyer

Here’s a sneak peek of the colleges: 

  • National Law School of India University, Bengaluru
  • National Law University, Delhi
  • Dr.Rizvi College of Law, Kaushambi 
  • Government Law College, Mumbai
  • Gujrat National Law University, Gandhinagar
  • Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala
  • Nalsar University of Law, Hyderabad
  • Rizvi Law College, Mumbai
  • Law College, Dhanbad

Top Recruiting Law Firms

Some of the well-known criminal lawyers and their chambers in India are listed below:

  • KTS Tulsi
  • Siddharth Luthra
  • Pinky Anand
  • Salman Khurshid
  • Kapil Sibal
  • Parag Tripathi
  • Mukul Rohtagi

Employment Sector/Industry for a Criminal Lawyer

Some of the top sectors that hire Criminal lawyers are listed below: 

  • High Courts/Supreme Courts
  • Legal Practice
  • Law Firms
  • Law Colleges/Law Universities
  • United Nation Organisations
  • Legal Websites 

Pay Scale/Salary of Criminal Lawyer 

A criminal lawyer usually starts his/her career as an intern under an established criminal lawyer for which they are paid a stipend. A fresh graduate lawyer practising under the high court gets a salary of INR 20,000 on average per month. While an experienced Criminal Lawyer draws around INR 2,00,000 – 3,00,000 on average per month. The salary of a Criminal Lawyer doing private will vary from client to client, and from case to case. 

Why Pursue Criminal Law?

The reason people enter into law enforcement and criminal justice careers is that they want to help others. Criminal Justice offers you the ability to use your skills and strength for good, whether through aiding victims of crime, counselling, and rehabilitating criminals, or overseeing the progress of a parolee. 


Students who want to take master’s courses in criminal law must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • To be admitted to the master’s programme, students must have completed a three or five-year Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from a recognised university.
  • After completing their 10+2 education, students will be admitted to a bachelor’s degree programme.

Introduction to Criminal Law in India

The constitution of India provides for a federal system wherein powers are divided between the central, state, and local governments. The demarcation of powers is divided in Schedule IV read with Article 246 of the constitution. Powers are divided into three lists: 

  • The Union List: The union parliament has exclusive power to make laws with respect to the matters enumerated within this list.
  • The State List: State Legislatures have the exclusive power to make laws with respect to the matters enumerated within this list.
  • Concurrent List: Both the parliament and state legislatures have the power to make laws with respect to the matters enumerated within this list.

Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure fall under the concurrent list while matters relating to police and prisoners fall under the state list. The laws that govern criminal law in India are the Indian Penal Code, 186 (IPC), and the criminal procedure code, 1974 (CrPC). 


How do I start a career in criminal law?

Take the Integrated BA/BBA/BSc/BCom LLB programme. The most common UG law course is a 5-year integrated bachelor’s degree plus an LLB. Depending on the stream in plus two, a corresponding degree+LLB can be completed as a single professional course. Few institutions offer criminal law specialisation at the undergraduate level.

Which degree is best for criminal law?

Majoring in a law enforcement-related field is one of the most traditional paths for people interested in a career in criminal justice.

Is criminal law a good career in India?

In this field, hard work and dedication are essential for success and high pay. Criminal Law in India In India, the salary of a criminal lawyer is extremely high, along with various other benefits. A lawyer’s salary is determined by the number of cases handled and the client with whom he or she works.

What can I do after criminal law?

Lawyers who have completed their LLB and LLM can pursue specialisation courses in criminology and forensic science, cybercrime, domestic violence, human rights, and sexual abuse.

If you are looking to enter into criminal law, it is important to realize that choosing a suitable course and university is essential. Take the assistance of Leverage Edu’s AI tool which suggests course and university combinations based on your personalized interests and inclinations so that you make an informed decision towards a rewarding career. 

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