Getting into law school?

Discussion in 'Odds & Ends' started by flyinghippos101, Oct 29, 2011.

  1. flyinghippos101

    flyinghippos101 Legend

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    To all TT lawyers, I'm a first year university student and have for years been really interested in doing something in criminal law after uni. I was just wondering, what should I be mindful of in the coming years to maximize my chances of going into law school and how can I build a good base of experience that will be applicable to the legal field?

    Thanks

    PS. I'm Canadian.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2011
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  2. Carlito

    Carlito Semi-Pro

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    Don't do it!!!

    But if you insist, an engineering degree or some hard science degree is the best way to get in to law school. Easy to get a attorney job if you have one of those.
     
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  3. flyinghippos101

    flyinghippos101 Legend

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    Well right now I'm in my school's arts program and I'm aiming at either a major in history or poli sci
     
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  4. Fearsome Forehand

    Fearsome Forehand Professional

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    The higher your grades and LSAT scores, the more options you will have in terms of top schools (unless you are an oppressed minority then you just have to read without moving your lips.) :) Get all A's and you can't go wrong (and not that hard to do if you apply yourself, stay focused, work your profs and avoid hanging out with idiots. ) I did not apply myself at all and still got well above a 3.0 in undergrad. College is super easy if you are a reasonably good student or better. The exception is if you are majoring in something that doesn't match your abilities. (Such as a severely math challenged person majoring in hard sciences, engineering, computer science, etc.)

    Many lawyers have liberal arts undergrad degrees; History, English, Poli Sci, Philosophy, etc. For criminal law, you could just as well major in drama, communication or criminal justice because, if you ever end up in front of a jury, making a great presentation is key.
    Try to get some public speaking experience.

    You can major in anything and go to law school. And it is not hard to get into a law school; it is hard to get into an elite law school.
    Your school should have some sort of pre-law program. That can serve as a guideline. Or, if it has a law school, you could inquire there.

    Check out the admissions requirements of the schools that you think you might be interested in. That will give you a clue as to what you will need in terms of GPA and LSAT. Lots of info on the internet. Google is your friend.

    If you insist on going the liberal arts major route, I would suggest picking a subject that you really enjoy as your major. The degree itself won't be worth much unless you are attending a top school. Plan on having a very hard time finding a good job because liberal arts degrees, in general, grant you no marketable skills unless you go to grad school for an MBA, a JD or something similar. If you can't find a job, you can always pitch a tent on Wall Street with the other liberal arts majors. :)

    I would suggest you change your major to something marketable unless you are 100% certain you want to go to grad school. Otherwise, you are probably spending a whole lot of money for no return.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2011
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  5. autumn_leaf

    autumn_leaf Hall of Fame

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    I would definitely see about internship programs. Make sure you want to be a lawyer. Because a lot of times professions aren't what they appear to be. And if you do decide on it, go to a top law school, no middle of the pack 2nd tier stuff. There are plenty of broke grads with law degrees because they thought any old law degree would mean a guaranteed job, it doesn't.

    I was looking up MBA programs and it's the same deal. Schools are churning out these former high return of interest degrees fast and the value of them are decreasing exponentially because of it. Private institutions that are not as well known charge as much as Ivy Leagues and people end up with ~100k-200k of debt without a viable way to pay it off.

    If you find a company to work for that has tuition reimbursement that's the route I would choose, actually that's the route I'm choosing now. NYU or Columbia would cost me approximately 100k for 2 years. Question to ask myself, do I want to be in debt for another 10-20 years. This is a serious question, unfortunately one that many college students don't take into consideration because it's been drilled into their heads to go to college at any cost.
     
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  6. Fearsome Forehand

    Fearsome Forehand Professional

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    I agree that doing an internship in a law office would give you a clue what it si like to work in law. Not sure if you want to be a DA or a defender of the wrongly accused. :) If you present yourself well, you might be able to talk yourself into an internship. Email all the law offices in your area, follow up on the phone and see if you get any takers.

    You also might want to take note of the percentage of law grads who opt out of law careers once they see what the job really is. One of my tennis buddies has a JD and an advanced law degree, passed the bar in CA and decided to be a stay at home dad after briefly working for a law firm. One of the guys I went to high school with got a JD from a good law school practiced for a short time and then became a home builder. On the other hand, there are guys who love it and make a ton of bucks defending the "wrongfully accused." Just depends on what you want. Another guy I went to college with was a philosophy major with an odd sense of humor. He became the chief public defender for a large urban county. When I knew him, he did a lot of recreational drugs.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2011
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  7. El Diablo

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    ^^ recent data show that about one third of law graduates in America do not pursue careers practicing law. My wife got her law degree, quit after one year because she was so miserable in law, stayed in the profession in a different role, as a law school dean.
     
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  8. adamX012

    adamX012 Rookie

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    OP, going to law school doesn't mean they would get a good job.
     
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  9. atatu

    atatu Hall of Fame

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    +1 on getting good grades....and if you don't get good grades, make sure you take an LSAT prep course like Kaplan. My grades were only average, but I scored in the top 98% on my LSAT, so that saved me.
     
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  10. Agent Orynge

    Agent Orynge Professional

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    Don't scare the guy too much. A degree isn't a guarantee of a job in any field these days, but I thnk it's better to have some direction from the start than dither in uncertainty for years on end. Focus really is the key. Now, most people do switch majors at some point during their academic career, so OP has to be open to the possibility of finding something he's more passionate about throughout his elective course work.
     
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  11. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    1. Get excellent grades.

    2. Get an excellent LSAT score.

    3. Become an excellent and speedy writer (and public speaker if you want to be a litigator or trial lawyer) by taking a lot of writing courses in college.

    4. Get into the very best law school you can get into. It can be very difficult to get a job otherwise.
     
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  12. MAXXply

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    Slightly off-topic, but can anyone recommend some effective (law) exam studying tips for procrastinators like me? (Focussing on time-management and avoiding distractions)
    The volume of material isn't that much (two subjects only) but exams commence in two weeks and I feel overwhelmed in an under-prepared sense.

    The fact I'm about to log-off and head to the tennis courts for a few hours may be indicative of my priorities...
     
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  13. GuyClinch

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    Don't do it - pick some degree that the US actually needs. Law schools are pratically criminal - training way more lawyers then are needed. Sorry but someone had to say it..
     
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  14. flyinghippos101

    flyinghippos101 Legend

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    Well I'm Canadian if that helps
     
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  15. autumn_leaf

    autumn_leaf Hall of Fame

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    ^^ I don't know if it helps or not. There are many types of lawyers. Many people think of the court attorneys, but there are also some such as copyright lawyers.

    You never said what you wanted to be in the law field. Planning to fight the good fight? Or just being a corporate lawyer?

    And GuyClinch is right, though wrong in the fact that he thought he was the first one to point it out. We have already stated that schools are more like degree mills these days.

    Many articles do point out MBA and Law students fund the majority of a universities budget. Meaning because of these two programs the university is able to run. Think about what you get as a law student...a classroom with a professor. That must be one hell of professor for you to pay 50k+ a year for. This field is one of the least costly to the university, compare to say the sciences which needs state of the art lab equipment, law students get a chair and a table while the scientists play with their multi-million dollar lasers and such for top universities.
     
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  16. eliza

    eliza Rookie

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    DO NOT DO IT!!! STOP BEFORE YOU CAN, AND PAUSE!!!!!
    You are going to jeopardize your tennis, your friendships, your life. Assuming you can get through it saving some of your mental sanity, you will lose it by working 80hrs per week included holidays.....Add that all your friends and relatives will suddendly ask you for free advice.......
    There are many jobs out there. Get a normal one, and keep playing tennis now that you are young!!!!!!
     
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  17. eliza

    eliza Rookie

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    Not only the US, unfortunately. But the US has way toooo many incompetent and improvised "attorneys", licensed to legally s.... people......
     
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  18. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    Criminal defense work is the absolute bottom of the food chain in terms of legal work. Horrible work, horrible clients....I can't think of a worse job in the legal sector.
     
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  19. MAXXply

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    I'm kind of thinking this is where I wanna go, if only for the regularity of work...I like to think I'm a pretty dispassionate ******* when it comes to defending hardluck petty crims but what would I know? I saw a young public defender in court one day thinking she was totally clueless and that I could do a better job, then I discover a week later she would be teaching my Crim II subject and she was a University Medallist...I need to do my Clinical Experience first and get a taste for it...
     
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  20. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    Uh guys, the OP is a first year university student. EVERYONE is either pre-med or pre-law (whatever the f*** pre-law means).
     
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  21. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    It's very low quality work. High volume, limited resources, low pay, low standards, limited resources, poor training.....it really attracts only the poorest quality practitioners 99.9% of the time. The other 0.1% do it for a time before realising that there are better things to do. Don't fogret those even with 'clued up' practitioners, high volume of work + limited time resources will turn them into a 'cluessless' practitioner. Unless you have a extraordinary passion for criminal defense work - and I really do mean extraordinary passion - and have the psychological makeup to cope with tons of low quality dross, there really are alot better careers out there.
     
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  22. Fifth Set

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    OP, don't be too alarmed by the responses. Yes, there are alot of unhappy lawyers out there, but there are alot of lawyers period. So, you're dealing with a huge sample size.

    The reality is that a law degree, like an MBA, can open many doors and take you in many different directions. Some better than others.

    What I would recommend is to focus less on what kind of law you want to practice (pretty early for that) and more on what you need to do to get into a top law school. There is some good advice here around that.

    A couple other things that haven't been mentioned:

    Consider getting a job in business for a couple years before applying to graduate school. Yes, it will probably be a junior level job, but if you can swing something better than an admin role, it will set your applications apart from others and provide you with some very valuable real world context in your studies.

    Also consider getting a joint degree. At least in the US (I imagine Canada is the same), adding an MBA to a JD is only one extra year. It may not seem relevant to criminal law, but remember, the goal of your education is to open doors, not limit them. There are other joint degree options, such a Masters in Public Policy.
     
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  23. flyinghippos101

    flyinghippos101 Legend

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    I want to go into criminal law but not be a defence attorney. I'm more interested in working with the crown attorney. I was considering other fields like corporate law or tort law, but doesn't seem very rewarding to me imo.
     
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  24. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    As Steve Jobs once said, "Find a job that you love."

    Personally, I think criminal law is a load of gash unless you love defending drug dealers, car thieves, wife beaters, gang bangers, or have the authoritarian streak to love putting such types behind bars. It really is a particular kind of job for a particular type of person.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2011
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  25. Fifth Set

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    If you're at all interested in advising the OP, you might want to actually read his posts.

    He would be much more inclined to be a DA, which means trying to put all of these losers in jail where they belong - something he might well in fact love.
     
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  26. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    Thing is, they are all innocent
     
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  27. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    Are you an attorney? Because the impression you give of your understanding of criminal law and practice comes across as more 'LA Law' and 'Law and Order' rather than the reality of life at the bar.

    Everytime I hear a student say they want to be a criminal attorney, I start laughing because the cliched thing you can say.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2011
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  28. Fifth Set

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    LOL, since this posts suggests that you are in fact a criminal attorney, I can only assume that you're not a very good one - since you're convinced that the life, work, skills, outlook, morals, etc. of a prosecutor is the same as that of a defender.

    God help any defendants who have the misfortune to get stuck with your representation!
     
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  29. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    In-house Counsel for a very well known global FMCG.

    So try again.

    (Or better still, try giving advice in a thread that you might know something about).
     
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  30. Fifth Set

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    :confused: Let's just say that your experience making sure that the Charmin doesn't get squeezed too aggressively certainly gives you no more authority than anyone else here to give advice to aspiring lawyers. :twisted:
     
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  31. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    More experience, more authority and more knowledge than what you seem to possess.

    I suspect that its really going to gall when I tell you have I've had responsibilty for recruitment and selection of lawyers at my current place of place, at previous places of work, including the recruitment of lawyers as well as University graduates.....
     
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  32. RoddickAce

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    @OP, I understand how you feel. It's a tough decision, but if this is what you are passionate about, then you will be able to apply yourself very well and succeed.

    @Individuals in the legal industry. Is it true (in your respective geographical areas) that the legal industry is very saturated with litigators, but there are a lot more opportunities if you want to pursue a career in legal advisory services?
     
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  33. Fifth Set

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    Whatever you say counselor. While you dance around your corner office high fiving yourself, the rest of us will watch this video in the hope that we can understand the difference between criminal prosecution and defense as well as you clearly do. :roll:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCag_aRx8Hk
     
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  34. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    Whatever makes you happy.....because you're not adding anything useful to this thread.
     
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  35. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Just so you know, being a prosecutor is pretty icky also. Lots of pressure to convict, so you can lose perspective.

    Also, one thing you don't get a sense for from TV is that defendants are people too. It is hard to see someone be sentenced and see the angish of their family. It doesn't make you feel like going out to celebrate.

    Whether you are defense or prosecution, the criminal world is icky and not at all as glamorous as many think. Many criminal lawyers burn out. But if OP is sure this is his calling, then he needs to get into a top school so he can be a federal prosecutor. Which means he will likely spend a lot of time putting drug mules behind bars.
     
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  36. Fifth Set

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    This is generally true and even more relevant if you define "legal advisory services" more like "using skills and experience gained from law to be a leader."

    Want to be President of the USA? Most of late have been lawyers.

    Like sports? The commissioners of two of the four major professional sports leagues are lawyers.
     
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  37. Agent Orynge

    Agent Orynge Professional

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    I can't help but feel that your credibility here is severely diminished, if only because we don't know what you do for a living. Torres says he's a lawyer, but you've been fairly mum about your academic/professional experience. So, from an outsider's perspective, I really have no choice but to side with Torres here. That having been said, what exactly is your experience in these matters?
     
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  38. Fifth Set

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    Ha ha, you "side with" whomever you want honey. I comment only on those things I know something about and call 'em like I see 'em, including when people give lame advice that arises from thoroughly ignoring an OP's posts.

    If mere claims of occupation/expertise are either important or sufficient for you to establish "credibility" on an anonymous forum, then that is your problem, not mine, the OP's or anyone else's. You should ask to see a picture of posters with their bar membership card visible. Good luck with that.

    I'm trying to provide perspective to those who are asking for it. You can do the same or, like Torres, go down rat holes.
     
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  39. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Translation: "I have no idea what I am talking about and I am not an attorney."
     
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  40. Fifth Set

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    Wow.

    I find it quite fascinating that at least three of you claiming to be attorneys (since Cindy revealed her actual identity in another thread, the state bar's web-site could easily confirm it if anyone actually cared - I don't) are so offended by the mere possibility that someone might be giving career advice (not legal advice) to a first year undergraduate without a "license."

    Let's assume for a minute that I'm not an attorney and never have been. What if I'm actually a court reporter with 20 years experience in the criminal courts? Or a baliff? What if I'm a service provider to criminal lawyers, such as a private investigator or psychiatrist?

    Then would I be permitted to post in this thread? :)
     
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  41. Agent Orynge

    Agent Orynge Professional

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    Actually, honey, it's your problem. You're offering advice because you assume people want it, but no one - not OP, and certainly not myself - is going to listen to you with that kind of attitude. I was playing nice because I thought you had something to offer, but you're going to find yourself more than a little outgunned if you dive face first into an argument with a subject matter expert. You can posture all you want, a lawyer is going to know more about his own craft than an outsider, even if we're not talking about his particular focus. So yes, Torres and Cindy are subject matter experts, and yes, I'll take their word over yours any day. I'm still waiting for you to tell us what it is you do for a living, but since you refuse to be forthcoming, I'm just going to go ahead and assume you're a garbage collector. All the more reason to ignore you, garbage collector.

    You can keep "callin' em like you see 'em" if it makes you feel important, but it's just wasted time and energy as far as the rest of us are concerned.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2011
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  42. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, let's assume for a minute that you are not a lawyer. 'Cause it is pretty clear that you are not.

    If you think a court reporter with 20 years of experience in criminal courts (whoops -- a court reporter would most likely work in courts that handle both criminal and civil cases) would be able to advise on what a career in criminal law is like, you would be mistaken. Just as I would have little idea what the life of a court reporter is like just because I have appeared in court sometimes.

    Even more off the mark is the idea that a PI or psychiatrist has a clue what the day-to-day grind of legal practice is like.

    Look, I know you meant well. Just understand that someone with personal experience may know more than you.

    Cindy -- not about to dive into a discussion about whether someone should go to medical school but who would read with interest
     
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  43. SoBad

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    As a layman, I don’t know anything about law, especially in Canada, but good grades and high LSAT scores will likely go a long way – perhaps reading the admission FAQs on your target schools’ websites will give you a better idea though than the discussion in this thread.

    Go for the criminal arena if that’s your passion, but a career in prosecution does seem like a bit of an odd dream for a college freshman – sure, you get to play God a little bit, but at the end of the day you are still a puppet in the hands of dirty politicians, inevitably overworked in an effort to supplement your meager public salary with bribes. As a defender (in the U.S. at least), you would be at the forefront of the fight to protect the Constitution and the rights of the ordinary citizens from the police and the state, take pride and satisfaction in your work as you help the innocent folks get through their ordeals bestowed upon them by the malicious prosecutors, and have an opportunity to be compensated fairly and legally for the good work that you do, and generously perhaps, if you do a good job.
     
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  44. Fifth Set

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    Hmmm....Torres the corporate lawyer a subject matter expert on criminal law.

    Sounds like malpractice to me. But, I wouldn't know. Right?
     
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  45. Agent Orynge

    Agent Orynge Professional

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    I like how you completely ignored the sentence right before that.

    "...a lawyer is going to know more about his own craft than an outsider, even if we're not talking about his particular focus."

    How much law did they teach you at garbage collector school?
     
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  46. Fifth Set

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    Now we are actually getting somewhere interesting. I'm all for folks commenting on those things that we actually know about. You won't see me chiming in your threads about the fit of women's tennis outfits. Likewise, I don't see you in the best legs thread, commenting on which female players have the best boobs.

    As I said before, I comment on those things about which I have some knowledge. In this case, at least as much as the corporate lawyer (who cluelessly slammed the OP's pursuit of criminal defense work, right after the OP said he wanted to be a prosecutor!).

    While I respect your willingness to "out yourself" (and voted for you several times in your campaign), it's not for everyone. Indeed, I actually think it weakens the back and forth when folks feel the need to preface every post with, "I know this because it's what I do for a living / my daddy lived there for 10 years / my brother works at company X..."

    So, you won't see it from me. If that means you don't read a word I write, that's certainly your right.
     
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  47. OTMPut

    OTMPut Hall of Fame

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    relax ladies and gentlemen, will you?

    anyone can give advice on anything. i doubt there is anything written down in any book of wisdom or religious dogma that it cannot be done.

    it is OP's job to sort sh1t out. his fault he asked advice in an internet forum (a tennis forum!).
     
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  48. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Fifth Sense, no hard feelings. I think it is important to preface one's advice with "I'm not a lawyer but . . . .". Seems only fair to OP and goes a long way toward helping people know where you are coming from.

    To anyone aspiring to practice criminal law . . . . Spend some time at the courts watching trials. You will quickly gain an appreciation for how it differs from TV. Especially in the case of civil trials, you will also quickly gain an understanding of why jurors sometimes fall asleep!
     
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  49. SlapShot

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    Agreed 100% on both accounts.

    I was dead-set on going into corporate law out of undergrad. Majored in legal studies in business (basic business degree with a heavier emphasis on contract law, interstate/international commerce, and negotiation). I'm now pursuing my MBA in finance instead.

    Why?

    Because, for one, Minnesota has WAY more lawyers than we have jobs for lawyers. Along with that, after much soul searching, I had more desire to be heavily involved on the business front rather than the legal front.

    If you decide that it's what you want to do, lots of good advice here - spend time studying, and think heavily about majoring or minoring in an area that gives you a "fallback" if the law school thing ends up not being your cup of tea. I bet a minor in business would be 4-5 classes, and what you learn there could be applied basically anywhere. The suggestion for engineering was a good one too - I know it sounds dry, but patent/IP law is a growing field, and one that offers a healthy payday for those lawyers that can get into the science end of things.
     
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  50. Kevin T

    Kevin T Professional

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    Location:
    Too far from the Blue Ridge
    Not a lawyer (or even interested) but to add to Slapshot's post, my cousin's fiance recently graduated from UC-Berk law school (top 10). His interest is environmental law and it took him 7 months to find a job, currently working in asbestos litigation. Far from what he wants to do but he was just glad to get a job in the bay area. He says the market is incredibly saturated.
     
    #50

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