PROVO — Their colleagues have teasingly accused them of "going to the dark side."

But for former prosecutors John Allan and John Easton, breaking out of their roles as criminal prosecutors and pursuing their ambition to start their own criminal defense practice has proven exciting — and a little scary.

Switching sides from prosecutor to defense attorney will be a new experience for both Allan and Easton, since neither of them have ever done criminal defense work.

Allan, a graduate of Brigham Young University's law school, has worked as a prosecuting attorney in Utah County since 1987. He hired on straight out of law school.

Easton, a Provo native who graduated from Whittier Law School in Orange County, Calif., practiced one year in civil law before moving back to Provo to work as a prosecutor.

Allan said the experience of being a prosecutor may make him a better defense attorney.

"We feel like it's a plus, actually, because you've been on both sides," Allan said.

Easton said he has been exposed to various defense arguments and strategies and already knows their weaknesses as a prosecutor.

It also has been difficult watching freshly minted law graduates earn twice as much as they did as prosecutors.

The idea to start a law firm began about three months ago while working together on a murder trial. Easton said he had always had a dream of starting his own law firm, and Allan agreed it was time to "try something different."

When asked how they can switch from pursuing criminal defendants to representing them, both men said defense attorneys are as much an integral part of the justice system as prosecutors. "You need to believe that every person is innocent until proven guilty," Easton said. "You need to believe that as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney."

Both admit that there may be a time when they receive a client who they will not be able to represent because of their previous work as prosecutors.

Allan said all of his former fellow prosecutors have been supportive — but have teased them a bit.

Both plan to focus on criminal defense but said they will also handle personal injury cases and divorce. "We've been told to call ourselves 'The Two Johns' for divorces," Allan said. "I've had people ask me if I'm going to buy some gold chains and get an earring."

Utah County Attorney Kay Bryson said the vacancy left by Allan and Easton will be hard on the office, mainly due to Allan's experience and Easton's motivation.

Allan said they plan to open the doors to their Provo office and hang their shingle as early as today.

"It's a tough thing to do, to go out on the road on their own like that," Bryson said, "but we expect to see them in court, on the other side."