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Nancy Neal on Being a Criminal Defense Lawyer

"The conduct that is defined as 'criminal' is often regular human behavior."

Why did you go to law school?

I was interested in the law.  I was encouraged to pursue law school by a college instructor.

When you went to law school, did you intend to become a criminal defense lawyer?

No.  I thought I was going to be a real estate lawyer.

What convinced you to become a criminal defense lawyer?

I was exposed to criminal law (as a municipal court prosecutor) at the first law firm that employed me.  I became a conflict criminal law lawyer when I was a solo practitioner; and then was a public defender in municipal, district and superior courts.  I enjoyed the subject matter, clients, and litigation aspect of criminal defense.

Have you ever been a prosecutor?

Yes.

If so, what did you learn from that experience?

I learned that all walks of life are accused of crimes.  The conduct that is defined as “criminal” is often regular human behavior.

Who is/are your mentor(s)?

I have tried to follow the examples of criminal defense lawyers that I respect which are usually my co-workers.

What have you learned from them?

Be tenacious, prepared and respectful.  Enjoy the work.

Tell us about a case you worked on that made you proud to be a defense lawyer:

I am most proud when I am able to give a voice to any person that feels unheard.

Why do you do criminal defense?

I take seriously the preservation of my clients’ rights and this keeps me interested in criminal defense.

Briefly describe your practice.

Public criminal defense of felony matters primarily.

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