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  • LEO or Lawyer

    So I have some decisions to make. I’d like to ask those of you with some tenure as LEO’s for some insight into some questions I have about becoming an officer and the lifestyle that comes with it.

    Do you enjoy your work, most of the time?

    Is the ability to advance and take on greater responsibility or leadership roles dependent solely on merit or is seniority a big factor?

    Is there anything you dislike about being a LEO?

    What is the best thing about your job, honestly?

    Do you have enough time off to yourself for family / vacation / travel or whatever you like?

    Does the pay fit the job?

    Any answers would be very helpful to me. I am making a really tough decision here and if the cost of going to law school wasn’t so high I’d do it in a second. I guess I pursued both careers and now that I have to pick one, I’m left wondering what I actually would prefer to do. Enjoying what I do is the most important thing at the moment but there are so many things to consider and many factors that may pull me in one direction or another. Any thoughts or insight into some of these questions would be very helpful and appreciated.

  • #2
    If you don't mind a Limey responding ...

    I went to Law School. I never practiced but instead went into the UK's equivalent of the Justice Department before becoming a cop. My brother is a lawyer and he makes over five times what I do as a cop.

    The bottom line is that, in the great scheme of things, you don't make a huge difference. But it's interesting and varied work. When you go through the door, you never know what's on the other side. If the variety and comradeship which (hopefully) you should get on a good team is more important than financial renumeration, than go for it. I would mention an incident which happened to someone who I went to with in our equivalent of Police Academy. There was a report of a disturbance. He was around the corner. He pulled up and heard movement in a dark alley. On shining his flash-light into an alley, he saw a male astride a semi-conscious female. The male began to run. He ran after the male and restrained him with, I'm sure, minimum force. It transpired that he had prevented a man attempting to rape a woman he had dragged from the street.

    Don't get that sort of job satisfaction brokering divorces.
    I'm a little bit waayy, a little bit wooah, a little bit woosh, I'm a geezer.

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    • #3
      In the process atm with LASD. Curious have you seriously considered going LEO? If so, this really wouldn't matter. I've been told myself that going the lawyer route would be good for me since I'm pretty bright. Taking college courses, I can tell I'd never make it through law school (too boring for me.) However if you truly have your heart into becoming a LEO, your career will be whatever you make of it.

      just my 2 cents

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      • #4
        You both make very good points. I know I'll do well at whatever route I take. I'm great when it comes to hitting the books and going to school but I'm also a bit of a fan of the "White Night" if you know what I mean. I enjoy the thought of helping people when they need it most and both careers deal with that to some extent.

        I could certainly use some more insight.

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        • #5
          read some police and da books to give you that insight better, norm stamper made a good book for police, called breaking rank

          Comment


          • #6
            Or do both.

            1.)

            If you can get into a 1st or 2nd tier law school with your current GPA and LSAT score, then apply at a 3rd tier school, get a huge scholarship because they want you there, and then after your three years are up, go through an academy and become a LEO. There are VERY few LEOs with master's degrees, muchless professional degrees, and your uniqueness bodes well for future promotability (do you have any idea how much a Lt top step on the west coast makes? Around $120K/year. $120,000 !! In comparison, Deputy District Attorneys start at $58,000. Even their supervising DDA only makes Top-Step Sergeant pay (around $98,000).

            OR

            2.)

            Go through an academy for a Sheriff's Department. After graduation if you are not assigned to one, transfer to a court bailiffing assignment. Lots of downtime and regular schedule, plus immediately available resources and a network of lawyers and judges. Then go through a 4 year part-time nightschool law program.

            Just some thoughts. I'm doing option 2 currently.

            HTH, FWIW,

            EDJ
            Last edited by ElDiabloJoe; 04-28-2007, 05:34 PM.
            "It's a game of cat and mouse. It's a game of hide and seek. Albeit games with deadly consequences. Like most games-the better you know the rules, the more likely you are to win."

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by teaguealicious View Post
              Do you enjoy your work, most of the time?
              Yes, I spent 8 years in the corporate world before I became a LEO. Wish I had done it a lot sooner. I cant believe I get paid to do this.
              Is the ability to advance and take on greater responsibility or leadership roles dependent solely on merit or is seniority a big factor?
              Depends on the agency, yes, no, and a little of both.
              Is there anything you dislike about being a LEO?
              From time to time work place issues come up that I dont agree with, but that will happen in any career field. If there was anything that really bothered me I wouldn't be on the job. I've changed career's once, I can do it again.
              What is the best thing about your job, honestly?
              I get to deal with situations that most people dream about or only experience on TV or in movies. This is a fun job. What I really like is that every day is different. When I start my shift I have no idea what I might get dispatched to, or might come across.
              Do you have enough time off to yourself for family / vacation / travel or whatever you like?
              I have about as much time as I did in the corporate world. No matter what you do, unless your are independently wealthy with gobs of money and dont have to work, you will never have enough time for yourself or for your family. It doesn't matter weather you're a lawyer, LEO, doctor, teacher, business exec, etc., each career field will require its share of personal sacrifices.

              Does the pay fit the job?
              I'm fortunate. I work for a high paying agency that is respected and supported by the community I serve. Not all LEO's have that.

              The two careers are only remotely relalted only becasue they have to do with law. I know that being a LEO is not for evreyone. Half of my basic academy class walked away from being a LEO 2yrs after graduation. You will not be able to truly answer the question. "Is being a LEO for me?" until you have actualty worked as a LEO.

              Comment


              • #8
                teaguealicious,
                Check your PM's.
                "It's a long way from the Supreme Court to the streets." -F.Y.
                "Saw drunk, arrested same." -Buck

                Comment


                • #9
                  Why not have the best of both worlds? Finish law school, pass the bar and become a practicing attorney. Choose a non-conflicting field of law to practice - family law, business law, corporate law, maritime law, etc. Then, join the police reserve program in your city or county and become a reserve deputy/officer with police powers. That will authorize you to CCW, make arrests when working in uniform and make good contacts in the interim.

                  I know a number of attorneys who have done so and they are both an asset to their profession and their agencies.
                  Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence!

                  [George Washington (1732 - 1799)]

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                  • #10
                    I think SgtCHP has hit the nail on the head. You're young. Qualify as a lawyer. And then try law enforcement - personally, I didn't become a cop until I was 30.
                    I'm a little bit waayy, a little bit wooah, a little bit woosh, I'm a geezer.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have a buddy who is a prosecutor for a SoCal city and he serves as a reserve officer for another city. He loves every minute of it.
                      "Respect for religion must be reestablished. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of public officials must be curtailed. Assistance to foreign lands must be stopped or we shall bankrupt ourselves. The people should be forced to work and not depend on government for subsistence." - Cicero, 60 B.C.

                      For California police academy notes go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CABasicPolice/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Do you enjoy your work, most of the time?

                        Yes....and no. It's a difficult job, lots of weight to it but it's challenging. Like anything else, some days are great, others not so great. But....for what it's worth, I wouldn't be doing anything else.

                        Is the ability to advance and take on greater responsibility or leadership roles dependent solely on merit or is seniority a big factor?

                        Both. Merit that you are competant to do the job and gain the respect of your subordinates, seniority in that you've been doing the job long enough to be able to handle the responsibility. Frankly, I wouldn't have it any other way.

                        Is there anything you dislike about being a LEO?

                        Absolutely. There's something you can find that you don't like about any job. The only things that can get me down every now and again are the administrative policies that aren't really thought through.

                        What is the best thing about your job, honestly?

                        You can be driving down the road, listening to the radio and thinking about playing golf on the weekend when all of the sudden you get a good call. Nothing is routine and it's always something different. Plus being able to cruise around instead of sitting in an office all day is great.

                        Do you have enough time off to yourself for family / vacation / travel or whatever you like?

                        Definitely. Depending on where you work, some depts let you bank overtime and use them as paid vacation. Vacation time is pretty decent and you generally get a pretty flexible schedule. If you've worked the 9-5, you'll have a new appreciation for a 4 and 4 shift (if you join a service that has one like that). Nothing like running your errands at 10am on a tuesday. Plus I'm off as much as I work....nothing wrong with that imho.

                        Does the pay fit the job?

                        Yes and no. It doesn't pay enough considering the risks but on the other hand if you look at the minimum requirements (which is sort of a stretch considering few nowadays get hired based on the min reqs), you won't find a better paying job.
                        On the other hand, pension and benefits are really good. I like being able to bank on saving for toys when I retire and not for how i'm going to live. City has that covered


                        My apologies if this is repeated from what others have said (I didn't read the other responses just providing my input). I dropped out of law school to become a cop. To me I couldn't really see myself doing the estate type legal stuff and I didn't believe I could morally defend people I know have committed terrible crimes.

                        At the end of the day it depends on what you want to do. If you haven't already, go out on a few ride alongs and try to get a feel for the type of work that is done. I don't regret for a minute on dropping the chance of being a lawyer to be a cop. I wish I got the same pay, and it would have been safer but I haven't regretted joining this profession at all. It's really a great job.

                        Of course it's all on what you want to do. I'm sure many lawyers would have a different opinion but since you're here asking us, I'm guessing you're leaning towards the dark side!
                        Last edited by Mirrain; 04-28-2007, 06:08 PM. Reason: bolded questions so it was easier on the eyes

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                        • #13
                          Thanks, Mirrain glad to hear your thoughts. Im actually asking questions on some Law School forums as well. I guess I like the idea of being an officer when it comes to the excitement and I like the idea of being a lawyer when it comes to using my head to solve problems. I think I wouldn't mind some types of law outside of CJ, but being a DA seems like a very good position to be in. I'm going to take your advice, I know lots of cops and lawyers; I've been into court tons of times but never on a ride along. So I'm going to call my city PD and see about doing a ride along, I'll make sure to ask for the evening shift.

                          I also really like the idea of getting the best of both worlds. Thanks for the tip there, I'm going to seriously look into that.

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                          • #14
                            do both and be a reserve.. or go on ride a longs...
                            not sure what kind of law you want to work. but you'll make tons of money in the private industry...
                            you won't be making much as a cop. most officers work OT to make ends meat. and you'll work holidays, weekends, nights...but u can prob make $100+ with OT, but at the sacrifice of your personal life. it'll take a while to promote to supervisory positions (sgts and higher), probably 5-10+ years.

                            LE isn't all that exciting. it is different everyday. but don't expect to go on pursuits and foot chases everyday. you'll be doing a lot of paper work and i mean a lot. 10 mins of fun = 4-5 hours of paperwork. the pay definitely doesn't fit the job. you put yourself in harms way, deal with sh*tbags, risk catching a disease or getting injured, risk being shot, get back problems from wearing all the gear, wear a very uncomfortable vesy (which is a pain if it's hot outside),etc... but it beats sitting in an office job.

                            getting into the DA's office is quite competitive, but if you want to prosecute criminals then you should do it. just don't become a public defender
                            Last edited by ask80; 04-29-2007, 09:05 PM. Reason: ...

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ask80 View Post
                              just do[n't] become a public defender
                              Amen! On a related note, I think this world could use a few more lawyers who are on the right side (aka: LEO friendly).
                              "It's a long way from the Supreme Court to the streets." -F.Y.
                              "Saw drunk, arrested same." -Buck

                              Comment

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