The Law: Crime
15 March 2007
Whats it all about?
Criminal lawyers typically deal with two types of criminal work: general crime and fraud/white-collar crime. Those dealing with the former work in high street firms and act for clients charged with criminal offences, varying from traffic offences through to theft or even murder.
In contrast, criminal lawyers specialising in fraud act for individuals (mostly professionals such as lawyers, accountants or company directors) charged with fraud-related offences. These individuals will initially be facing criminal investigations brought by prosecution agencies such as the Serious Fraud Office. The work can also be of a more regulatory nature in relation to money laundering, insider dealing or market abuse.
The working culture
The working pace of fraud lawyers will depend hugely on their workloads. A case might require them to fly out to different jurisdictions to trace assets or work until 1am. But, this will be occasional. General crime is equally as hands on, with regular visits to police stations, prisons and magistrates courts.
Why is this interesting?
Both with general crime and fraud law, you will be dealing with crisis situations requiring an immediate response. A lot of drama will be involved, which will make it a lively and exciting environment.
Personal and legal skills required
As a general criminal lawyer you will need to have good people skills, loads of empathy, be quick and have an inquisitive mind. As a fraud lawyer you will need to have excellent analytical skills, be able to assimilate loads of complex information quickly and have bags of common sense. As a lot of work will consist of persuading prosecution agencies not to take matters to trial, strong negotiation and drafting skills are also essential.