Job roles in law firms – defending people accused of crime

This article is part of our Job roles in law series which explores some of the legal sector’s practice areas and the associated job roles which may offer a starting point for someone looking to start a career in law.


This area of law relates to defending anyone who has been charged with committing a crime, including everything from road traffic offences through to serious fraud, assault and murder.

What’s involved?

Criminal departments of law firms give advice to defendants on the criminal law including whether the charge is fair, if there are mitigating circumstances and what the penalty might be if the defendant is found to be guilty. The role varies greatly according to the nature of the charge, and more serious crimes are usually dealt with by specialist firms.

What jobs are there for non-qualified staff?

Paralegal roles involve tasks relating to building a defence, carrying out research and also general administrative tasks. Where cases are funded by Legal Aid there will also be administrative work relating to claiming for time spent. There have been cuts to funding for criminal litigation and you should be aware that jobs in this practice area can be hard to find.

What job titles will be advertised by recruitment agencies?

Criminal law paralegal, criminal paralegal.

What CILEx units will support my application for these job roles?

We recommend that you enrol on courses leading to the CILEx Level 3 Certificate in Law and Practice (Criminal Litigation). As well as an introductory unit you will study Criminal Law and Criminal Litigation. Have a look at the tables of contents to see what is involved. You will also study two professional skills units. Studying this qualification gave Leanne Packham the confidence to apply for a job in the probation service.

If you already have a law degree, you can achieve your CILEx Graduate Fast-track Diploma by studying Level 6 Criminal Litigation, Level 6 Client Care Skills and one other CILEx Level 6 practice unit of your choice, which we recommend should relate to a law unit studied as part of your degree.

What have other students achieved?

Leah Hester is a paralegal in the Criminal Motor Defence team of DAC Beachcroft. Her work involves case management of prosecutions in the Magistrates’ Court and Crown Court, briefing Counsel and attending hearings and trials.

March 11th, 2019|
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