Identifying an Effective Criminal Lawyer

Criminal law is a fascinating area and one that is very popular amongst many young aspiring lawyers or law students. During the interview process when we ask why they are interested in pursuing a career in criminal law, 90% of the applicants responded that it is ‘interesting’.  Whilst this is a very simple answer, we think that it is the truest answer.  Some of the matters that we’ve been involved with are more interesting and complicated than many of the movies and television shows that we’ve seen.  The major difference is that, because we are the lawyers involved, rather than just being a member of the audience we have a significant part to play in the outcome and it is therefore highly exciting.


Being a criminal lawyer is not like many other traditional 9 to 5 jobs. Clients will be arrested, have urgent enquiries or in many other ways need you at all hours of the day or night.  Your mobile phone must be on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and you must be available to take the calls no matter what you’re doing or where you are.  The criminal lawyers of Cridland & Hua will routinely attend upon their clients during the weekend in their own personal time.  Because we are not rushed during this time we are much more productive and are able to more effectively discuss and analyse their case, producing a much better result.

Tactical and Analytical Thinking

When you’re not dealing with a client outside of traditional 9 to 5 hours, then you will still be spending a lot of time outside of traditional hours working on your client’s matters. By working, we mean physically (preparing material, dreading cases and drafting paperwork) as well as mentally.  By mentally, we mean that you must spend a lot of time actually thinking about the matter and formulating arguments in your mind.

Criminal law is a lot like chess. It’s not overly difficult to learn the rules of chess and children as young as 5 can play it.  Learning how to play chess is one thing but mastering it is something completely different – just like criminal law.  Learning the law and the cases is just the first step. But applying and arguing the law in a tactical way takes a different sort of intelligence beyond anything that university can teach you.  It takes a special sort of cunning and instinct and I believe that people are either born with it or they’re not.

For example, we have a very high success rate of applying for bail for our clients and one critical decision is to ensure that the timing is right. Many other lawyers will apply for bail at the first opportunity without even thinking and because a client only has one chance at applying for bail it is wasted for them.    A very simple example is a client who is charged with drug possession and has a lengthy history of drug usage.  If they applied for bail as soon as they were charged (and still clearly showing the effects of drug usage) they would appear in court and the Magistrate would be able to see them in their drug affected state and refuse them bail.  However, by allowing the defendant some time to sober whilst in custody could sometimes mean the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful bail application.

Compassion for Other Human Beings

Being in the position that we are, with all of the education and experience that we’ve had, means that we are in a special position to be able to help less fortunate people and we believe that there is an obligation upon us to do so. A successful criminal lawyer must have within them an intense desire to help people within their community, even at times when they are not paid to do so.

It is not easy to make it as a successful criminal lawyer. There are many personal sacrifices that must be made and a lot of work and long hours that will go un-noticed or un-rewarded.  But that is a part of the job and a part of the life that a person must accept if they were truly wanting to be effective in this profession.

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