What Are the Qualities of a Successful Criminal Lawyer?
Criminal lawyers will always be in demand, but not all practitioners combine the qualities needed to excel in the field.
This month we hear from Adriana Anca Boghiu, who shares the insights she has gained from her career as a criminal lawyer in Romania. What professional skills are required to fill the role, how can they be trained, and what is the culture that an aspiring criminal lawyer must work within?
In your experience, what are the personal or professional qualities displayed by successful criminal lawyers?
Perseverance, reliability, a role in clarifying situations and accurately understanding and expressing legal applicability and, most importantly, dedicated and total involvement in each client’s particular situation.
There is no one formula for success as a lawyer, but there are certain qualities that tend to make lawyers more successful. Some of these qualities include: being detail-oriented and organised, having strong writing and research skills, being able to think on your feet, argumentative ability, maintaining a professional and calm demeanour, and possessing excellent people skills. Aspiring lawyer should try to develop as many of these qualities as possible.
In addition, it is also important to get experience working in the criminal justice system, whether through internships, externships or volunteer work. The more experience you have working with the criminal justice system, the better prepared you will be to become a successful lawyer.
How can these qualities be recognised and trained?
Some of these qualities, such as strong writing and research skills, can be developed through law school coursework. Others, like being able to think on your feet and maintain a professional demeanour, may be more difficult to train. However, there are many ways to develop these skills. For example, you can join a mock trial team or participate in moot court competitions. You can also seek out opportunities to clerk for a lawyer’s office or work as a research assistant for a criminal defence attorney. These experiences will give you the opportunity to hone your skills and learn more about what it takes to be a successful lawyer.
Quality can be identified by the results obtained, by the methods applied, by the strategies proposed to clients – and they can be trained through specialised and ultra-specialised practice, through continuing education courses and, perhaps most importantly, through a deep understanding of the idea of empathy and professional ethics.
There is no one formula for success as a lawyer, but there are certain qualities that tend to make lawyers more successful.
Is law school an effective venue for training these skills? Are there improvements that could be made in this area?
Any law school (but here I will refer to the one in Romania) is the foundation of the professional training of any practitioner. Certainly, the basic structures of professional training are built during law school. In terms of improvements, I think the most important thing is permanent focus and attention of moving from theory to practice.
This means that the exercises, simulations and other activities carried out in law school must always take the realities of practice into account. This is the only way in which we can ensure that law students are properly prepared for their future careers.
Is the practical culture of criminal law significantly different in Romania when compared to other European nations?
Romania is a member state of the European Union (member state for 15 years). While still at the beginning of the cultural integration of European values, the direction of development is towards alignment with the European criminal law culture.
However, each country has its own specificities, both cultural and ideological, and there are still differences which will continue to evolve. Among the main differences – especially in the area of white collar and cybercrime legislation – we have legislative gaps and differences of opinion from European practice.
From the perspective of the applicability of the law in the courts, the differences with the European Union are:
- In the case of preventive deprivation of liberty, in Romania, priority is given not necessarily to investigation in a state of liberty, but to investigation in a state of provisional detention, which contradicts EU recommendations and the Cedo Convention.
- Romanian tax legislation does not ignore EU law, but neither can we say that it always applies it with priority. It should be noted that the opinions and decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union are not only necessary but also binding. The Court has repeatedly emphasised that the VAT system must be uniform, especially when financial issues are raised and there is a possibility of their extrapolation into the area governed by criminal law, where there is a suspicion of tax evasion offences. For these reasons, I think it would be useful to create tax legislation that can be interpreted more clearly and predictably.
What advice would you give to current law students aspiring to become successful criminal lawyer?
Before starting a career in the criminal law, I highly recommend a short career in another lawyer’s office or the court, so that you can have a broad perspective on the whole criminal process. This can also be achieved by assisting or gaining an internship in the court and prosecution structures to gain an in-depth understanding of the mechanisms and understanding of the application of criminal law.
There is no one formula for success as a lawyer, but there are some important things to keep in mind if you want to pursue this career path. First and foremost, it is essential to have a strong commitment to the fair application of justice. This means not only being passionate about seeking justice in individual cases, but also working to create systemic change that will make your community safer.
Secondly, it is important to be a strong advocate for the part you represent. This means being willing to listen to their stories, fight for their rights, and help them seek healing and justice.
Finally, it is essential to have excellent legal skills and knowledge. This means staying up-to-date on the latest developments in the law, being able to think critically and solve problems, and having excellent writing and oral advocacy skills. If you can combine all of these things, you will be well on your way to becoming a successful criminal lawyer.
Adriana Anca Boghiu, Lawyer
About Adriana Anca Boghiu
“I practice business criminal law and my specialisation is white collar crime. I am a member of the Bucharest Bar Association (Romania) and have the right to practice throughout the European Union. I have extensive experience in tax evasion, money laundering, fraudulent banking, embezzlement, electronic fraud, breach of trust by defrauding creditors, insurance fraud and bid rigging. I am currently paying particular attention to cryptocurrency criminality and cyber criminality.
As for my future projects, I want to set up a restorative justice association focusing on victims of human trafficking. Having the ability to apply the perspective of restorative justice in criminal cases would be a great opportunity to improve the way that members of the community voluntarily interact with victims and perpetrators, enabling discussion of the damage that has been done and the consequences of such actions along with identifying the appropriate reparations for the harm caused. I am currently working on a research project that explores the possibility of using such restorative justice principles, and I hope to publish my findings in the near future.”