Traffic lawyers are lawyers who devote their practices to defending or prosecuting traffic infractions. In order to become a traffic lawyer, one must first earn a law degree and pass the local jurisdiction’s licensing or bar exam. Most lawyers work in firms, but not all do. Many traffic lawyers work as solo practitioners, or in close association with one or two other lawyers. In these cases, the knowledge of how to market and build a law practice can be just as important as traffic court knowledge and experience.
Law is a tightly-regulated practice in most countries, and all lawyers, no matter their specialty, must usually follow a set path of steps to becoming licensed. Each jurisdiction has slightly different licensing rules, but most of the time, the first step to becoming a lawyer is attending and graduating from law school.
A diploma in law is not always enough to begin practicing law, however. Law graduates must also usually prove their knowledge and competency by passing a licensing exam, commonly called a bar exam. The title of lawyer is typically conferred after successful completion of this exam. From there, lawyers can begin work, either independently or as members of larger law firms. They are typically free to choose their own specialty.
Most traffic lawyers represent individuals who are fighting traffic tickets or other infractions, but traffic lawyers can also represent cities, municipalities, and police officers. The successful practice of traffic law from any angle requires an understanding of a particular jurisdiction’s traffic laws, as well as an understanding of the ticket and citation appeals process. A traffic lawyer in many respects acts as a traffic violation lawyer, shepherding clients through the court side of traffic trouble in order to reach an amicable result.
Much of the knowledge required to successfully become a traffic lawyer must be self-taught, or learned on the job. Traffic law usually consists of analyzing traffic infractions, and either defending the prescribed punishment or fighting it. Most of the time, traffic law arguments center around local regulations, city ordinances, and the fairness of state actor conduct.
Experience in traffic-related matters is not required to become a traffic lawyer, but it is usually a good idea. Unlike broader subjects such as contract law, business law, or trademark law, there are not usually a lot of educational opportunities for traffic law while in law school. A law student who knows he wants to focus on traffic law after graduation could take agency law, constitutional law, or any local-level law classes that are offered. All of these would provide at least some context for understanding traffic law and traffic cases. Usually, though, the best training comes from hands-on experience.
A good way to learn the skills needed to become a traffic lawyer is to observe traffic lawyers in practice, or traffic courts in session. Many traffic lawyers and traffic law firms hire students to be interns or clerks. The work arrangements are usually flexible, and can often be designed to fit within a student’s academic schedule. Traffic courts, too, will frequently allow law students to sit in and observe proceedings, and sometimes judges will make themselves available to answer students' questions after trials. It is a good idea to take advantage of as many of these opportunities as possible.
A familiarity with traffic laws and traffic court proceedings is a good way to prepare to become a traffic lawyer, as experience will make a new lawyer a more convincing sell to clients and potential employers. It will also give a new lawyer the confidence and the credentials to break into the specialty. Perhaps most importantly, experience will give the new lawyer the skills and the wherewithal to know where to look and what to ask to both grow and maintain a successful traffic law practice.