Law school is tough. The amount of reading, note taking and outlining is nearly impossible for any student to do. Most people just hope that what they study finds its way into the classroom and onto exams.

One way to survive the academic grind is to get away from the books, while also preparing for professional success.

Here are three ways students can learn criminal law outside of the classroom.

  • Watch Television

There is an abundance of good, competent law shows out there. A few are on DVD or on TV as reruns.

The best shows to watch are those that cover the entire criminal process from arrest to verdict. This is because viewers have the chance to learn all the different stages that affect criminal case outcomes.

Though there is always dramatic license involved in television productions, budding criminal defense attorneys can gather a sense of the reality of the legal process. Many of the shows get the back-and-forth arguments between prosecution and defense correct.

After watching television, students can go back to those criminal procedure books to outline cases with a new perspective on things.

  • Volunteer in a Legal Services Clinic

There are opportunities for students to work in legal services, usually on a pro bono, or free, basis. These clinics provide clients legal advice that otherwise would cost lots of money. Colleges, community centers and religious organizations are some of the primary sponsors of legal aid centers. The clientele often consists of poor persons, immigrants and veterans.

Students can learn how to deal with clients from this experience. Law school is highly abstract. Working in legal services is a journey into the real, practical law. This experience is valuable. Unlike corporate law, most clients in criminal defense cases are not wealthy. These are average people who need help.

Volunteering provides exposure to the types of individuals who will be sitting in the office of the student once he or she graduates.

  • Observe Courtroom Action

One of the most useful forms of outside study is a visit to an actual courtroom. Criminal law involves going to court for hearings and trials. There is no way around it. Defense attorneys do not work in corporate boardrooms. For this reason, observing a trial comes highly recommended.

There are few opportunities to hear the style of interrogation used in trial except to watch lawyers in action. As students will learn, practicing attorneys must elicit all information from witnesses. The lawyers cannot speak directly to the jury, except during opening and closing statements.

Proper interrogation of a witness is a skill that takes time to perfect. It is wise to begin practicing this technique early; furthermore, criminal law professors will be impressed with a student who demonstrates intricate knowledge of courtroom oral style.

For Further Help

As mentioned, law school is an experience difficult to endure alone. Any student interested in becoming a criminal defense lawyer should speak with one already in practice. This expert can provide further advice on how to survive the rigors of law school.