How to Become a Criminal Defense Lawyer in New Jersey?

Criminal Law

Lawyers are hired by individuals or corporations to represent them during a criminal trial. They give their clients advice and help them form and present their legal proceedings in the case. What are the requirements to become a criminal defense lawyer in New Jersey

To become a criminal defense lawyer in New Jersey, you must meet an age requirement, graduate from an American Bar Association school, and pass the Bar exam. You must also continue your education, stay up to date on the latest legal proceedings, and maintain your license each year.  

Below we will look at some of the requirements to become and maintain your law license in the state of New Jersey.  

Becoming a Lawyer in New Jersey

Age and Other Requirements

To become a lawyer in New Jersey you must meet a few different requirements. The first of these requirements is that you are of 18 years of age and have good moral character. Good moral character consists of being honest, trustworthy, and having respect and obedience to the law. Past legal arrests and convictions as well as financial difficulties may hinder you from practicing law in the future.


To begin your schooling to become a criminal defense lawyer in New Jersey, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree. There are no pre-law majors, so the most common fields of study include English, Economics, and History. Learning skills such as communication, research, and analytics are useful later in life when you meet all the requirements to become a lawyer.

After you obtain a bachelor’s degree, you must also graduate from an American Bar Association (ABA) accredited school. Candidates must pass the Law School Admissions Test before they are accepted for schooling. You will also need to submit work experience, a background check, and your college transcripts during your admission process.

ABA school can last up to three years. It will include fieldwork and classroom work. You will study civil procedures and legal arguments. You will also participate in moot court and practice trials under supervision. Upon completion of schooling, you will receive a Juris Degree.

Bar Exam

The final step to becoming a lawyer in New Jersey requires the candidate to pass the Uniform Bar Exam (UFE) commonly referred to as the bar exam. This is a three-part exam that is administered over two separate days. It consists of multiple-choice questions, essay questions, and performance tests that model legal writing. Many schools prepare their students with a bar review after graduation before taking the Bar Exam.

After successfully passing the Bar Exam you will be licensed to practice as a criminal defense lawyer in New Jersey.

After Accreditation

Once you are a practicing criminal defense lawyer, you will be required to maintain your license. To do this you will be required to pay a fee and renew your license every year. In New Jersey, you will also be required to complete five Continuing Legal Education requirements in ethics and professionalism every two-year cycle. Two of these requirements must be diversity, inclusion, and eliminating bias.

These requirements can be completed online. Lawyers who fail to maintain their licenses and complete their Continuing Legal Education can be declared ineligible to practice law until the requirements have been met.


To become a lawyer in New Jersey, you must first earn a bachelor’s degree and be at least 18 years of age. You must then complete a three-year program at an American Bar Associated school. Upon completion, you will be eligible to take the Bar Exam and obtain a license to practice law.

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