Every year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation releases crime statistics, outlining the number of violent crimes and property crimes in cities across the US. I think the report is a handy tool for criminal defense lawyers who are looking to move their practice or set up their first practice. Although the FBI advises against ranking the cities or making a list of the “most dangerous cities” in the country, I think it’s easy enough to look at the statistics and see which cities have a greater demand for criminal defense lawyers, and why.
According to the Washington Post, the number of murders in Chicago in 2012 allowed it to claim the title of “Murder Capital of the US.” The city had 500 murders in 2012, according to FBI crime statistics, while New York City had 419. The previous year, Chicago had 431 murders and New York 515. If you’re a recent law school graduate and want to pursue a career in criminal defense, I’d recommend checking out Chicago, since there’s a lot of opportunity for work and for enjoying life in a big city.
This next city hits a little close to home. Detroit was named the most dangerous city in the country by Forbes. The city had over 15,000 cases of violent crime in 2012 and just over 700,000 residents. Although it had fewer murders than Chicago (386), it has about a quarter of the population. If you’re a criminal defense lawyer looking for somewhere to practice, I’d recommend Detroit first and foremost.
A city of just 318,667 people, St. Louis, MO saw more than 5,000 violent crimes in 2012, according to the FBI. The city’s high crime rate actually dropped a bit from 2011 to 2012, thanks in part to a greater police presence. Still, with a violent crime rate of more than 1,700 per 100,000 residents, I think the city is an ideal location for a criminal defense attorney.
Here’s another city that hits close to home. Flint, MI has just over 100,000 residents. Yet, in 2012, it had more than 2,700 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. A number of factors could make Flint a better place to live, including more criminal defense lawyers to help make sure people being tried for crimes have their rights protected.
A city of slightly more than 600,000 people, Baltimore has a pretty high rate of robberies and property crime, with 29,149 reported property crimes in 2012. The city’s high property crime rate makes it an ideal spot for lawyers who specialize in defending robbers and burglars.
New Haven – it’s the home of Yale, an Ivy League school, and yet it’s also the city with the lowest number of high school graduates. Just 78 percent of people in the city have a high school diploma. The city’s recent efforts to work with gang members to lower the crime rate and to rehabilitate them makes it a great place of criminal lawyers to work, I think.
If Chicago’s the Murder Capital of the country, then I nominate Oakland as the Robbery Capital. The city had more than 1,000 robberies per 100,000 residents in 2012, higher than any other city. Oakland’s police department is in shambles thanks to lay-offs. If you want a high caseload, consider locating your law office in Oakland.
The Baton Rouge metropolitan statistical area reported 66 murders in 2012. While that number seems small compared to Detroit’s 386 or Chicago’s 500, the entire MSA has just over 800,000 people, putting the city’s murder rate per 100,000 at more than 11, making it a high crime area ideal for criminal defense lawyers who specialize in defending those accused of murder.
A 2013 Gallup poll ranked Memphis dead last when it comes to how safe residents feel walking around the city at night. Along with a general feeling of unease, crime in the city is high, with more than 1,700 violent crimes per 100,000 people.
Philadelphia’s actually doing pretty well in 2013 compared to other years. In June, the city reported its lowest homicide rate in more than 50 years, according to the “Philadelphia Inquirer.” The lower homicide rate is in part due to reforms in the criminal courts. Changes in the police department and courts of Philadelphia make it an exciting place to be a criminal defense lawyer, if you ask me.
If you’re interested in defending people charged with robbery and want to live in the Midwest, Cleveland is your city. In 2012, the city was just behind Oakland, CA in terms of robbery, with slightly more than 3,500 robberies total. The recent kidnapping case involving three women locked in a house for more than a decade and the resulting backlash against the police force has also made Cleveland an interesting city for criminal defense lawyers.
Birmingham, Alabama is in need of criminal defense lawyers. The city’s low-income levels, history of violence and crime, and low education levels combine to make it one of the top places for murder in the US. It was also the city with the fifth highest level of property crimes, according to Marketwatch.
Newark, NJ was working hard to reduce its crime rate, up until 2010. Then, budget cuts led to a reduced police force and a jump in crime. From 2010 to 2011, violent crime increased in the city by 11 percent. The city’s high crime rate has led local politicians to criticize the mayor for lack of action. Since the city is right next to Manhattan and has its own crime issues, it’s an ideal location for lawyers looking for an affordable place to set up a practice.
Obviously, these are just a small sampling of the many cities in the United States which need criminal defense lawyers. What locations do you think could benefit from additional defense lawyers?