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  • Law School??

    I know that a good majority of not all of ya guys/gals on here are officers, but here goes.

    I am still a junior in college and quickly approaching the time I can start applying @ departments... but I have recently been considering a law degree and maybe becoming a low paid Assistant State's attorney (never will do defense)...

    It is going to definitly be a struggle for me to decide, because I do want to be a Police Officer, but Law interests me quite a bit and I think I would do well.

    Any advice??

    Thank you very much.

    Stay Safe.

    -Z

  • #2
    Take the LSAT and then make a decision.
    No man is justified in doing evil on the grounds of expediency. - Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life: Essays and Addresses (1900)

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    • #3
      Originally posted by ZmanCarlvr
      It is going to definitly be a struggle for me to decide, because I do want to be a Police Officer, but Law interests me quite a bit and I think I would do well.
      Know that there is a real glut of lawyers in the job market right now. The compensation reflects this. At the last college where I taught, I managed a student-staffed security patrol. We couldn't get enough students to fill out the roster, so we opened it up to the outside. Two of our Campus Safety Officers were deputy district attorneys, who were walking around in "SECURITY" baseball caps and carrying flashlights for $7.00 per hour. They were getting paid only $26,000 per year to prosecute felony cases (including capital cases) for the county. They felt that they were lucky to be working as lawyers at all, as many of their classmates were still looking for work.

      One of the people I used to teach with (he taught business) decided to go to law school. On graduation, he got a job with the Nebraska Attorney General's Office as a deputy AG. Annual salary: $27,000. He didn't like the job and quit. He hasn't been able to find work since.

      Most people that go to law school these days seem to think that their working lives will be like the lawyers they see on TV, wearing expensive clothes, arguing big cases and working in downtown law firms with fancy offices. The reality is very different. You may be a beter candidate for some federal law enforcement jobs with a law degree, but even that is a crap shoot right now.
      Tim Dees, now writing as a plain old forum member, his superpowers lost to an encounter with gold kryptonite.

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      • #4
        Good Point

        Mr Dees makes some great points and they are all true.

        Just research the # of cases which are plea bargained and the actual # that go to trial. As a prosecutor you will find yourself negotating pleas as opposed to trying cases. (p.s.- (at least in NJ, almost all the municipal prosecutors have some type of other job- they are defense counselors, they do wills, they do real estate law etc.)

        The worse part about law school is have to be a lawyer after it...
        10% of the cops do 90% of the work

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        • #5
          it is true that in some places the Assistant DA do not make much money but how many attorneys make a career there?

          most use it to get trial experience then leave and rather quick that is one reason the DA office at least in our county loses more trials than they win-- lack of experienced prosecutors.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Tim Dees
            Most people that go to law school these days seem to think that their working lives will be like the lawyers they see on TV, wearing expensive clothes, arguing big cases and working in downtown law firms with fancy offices. The reality is very different. You may be a beter candidate for some federal law enforcement jobs with a law degree, but even that is a crap shoot right now.

            Amen to that.

            Never will do defense, eh? Heard that one before...Most of the police officers I knew who went to law school, some with me, some going to other schools, weren't looking to become DA's...They wanted their piece of the pie, and quite frankly, I can't say I blame them from "crossing over to the dark side".

            When you get out of law school, you should expect indentured servitude for at least the first 3 or 4 years of your life. I hope you don't like nights at the bar, sex or sleep, because you will be going cold turkey from all of them.

            What you learn in lawschool will be very different from what is imediately applicable as a police officer. Just because you know how to find Terry v Ohio in the library doesn't mean you will know how to not exceed the scope of it on tuesday night at 2 am.

            Police academys are their for a reason, as are law schools, and they serve a very different purpose.

            Having gone to law school and still mulling over filling out the application for a local department, I can say that the best things that a law school education can give a prospective police officer are writing skills and even then many lawyers aren't very good at it, and an understanding of the legal system from the other side.

            That said, a phyc or CJ major with a minor in middle eastern language who speaks arabic or farsi to any decent degree and who is in good shape would likely offer more to a police department than someone with a law degree.

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            • #7
              Nothing says you can't go to law school then be a cop. My chief has a JD and we have an intern in our prosecutors office who is a deputy in a neighboring jurisdiction.
              "there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter." Ernest Hemingway

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              • #8
                Originally posted by mark7777
                it is true that in some places the Assistant DA do not make much money but how many attorneys make a career there?
                I have several attorney friends who are/were career prosecutors. One has left the public sector and now works in a firm where she does estate work exclusively. The career prosecutors stay in that area because they are doing what they think is right.

                I used to have the typical cop's dim view of defense attorneys, and public defenders in particular. My attitude changed after a conversation with a prosecutor that practiced in our court. She had been a public defender previously, and had just announced her intention to go back to the PD's office (the chief public defender, whom she did not like, had retired, so she felt it was a good time to go back). She was a great prosecutor and a really nice person, and I asked her how she could go back and defend people that she knew were guilty. She said, "Because of these." She took an envelope out of her purse. Inside was a single piece of yellow legal pad paper with six names written on it. All the names were written in a different ink, and were unevenly faded, so they had been written at different times. None of the names meant anything to me.

                "These are people that really didn''t do it," she said. "During the preparation for trial, I found evidence that exonerated them and proved that they couldn''t have committed the crimes they were charged with. If there hadn't been anyone to speak for them, they would have been punished for something they didn't do. I may defend a lot of guilty people, but I don't ever want to see an innocent person go to jail."

                Food for thought.
                Tim Dees, now writing as a plain old forum member, his superpowers lost to an encounter with gold kryptonite.

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                • #9
                  go thru law school, get on a large department with a legal department.....
                  ''Life's tough......it's tougher if you're stupid.''
                  -- John Wayne

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ZmanCarlvr
                    It is going to definitly be a struggle for me to decide, because I do want to be a Police Officer, but Law interests me quite a bit and I think I would do well.
                    We have three officers at our agency who each went through law school part time, while working full time as cops. I won't pit one profession against the other, but one of our guys left and became a practicing attorney. Two years later, he came back as a police officer. He said the litigation "bored" him.

                    I should also point out, we are in a large metropolitan area where the first 1/4 of the phone book is attorney's

                    Get your BA and decide at that point. Perhaps has an attorney, you could join the reserves if your area has them. Or go the route our guys did.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by McPhenius
                      We have three officers at our agency who each went through law school part time, while working full time as cops. I won't pit one profession against the other, but one of our guys left and became a practicing attorney. Two years later, he came back as a police officer. He said the litigation "bored" him.

                      I should also point out, we are in a large metropolitan area where the first 1/4 of the phone book is attorney's

                      Get your BA and decide at that point. Perhaps has an attorney, you could join the reserves if your area has them. Or go the route our guys did.
                      I don't think anywhere around here has reserves... I'm in the second most populated county in Illinois....

                      I am not sure what I would truly want to do, but what I do know is that I really enjoy law, learning and applying it, and I am good at debating a point and very good at bull****.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Tim Dees
                        I used to have the typical cop's dim view of defense attorneys, and public defenders in particular. My attitude changed after a conversation with a prosecutor that practiced in our court. She had been a public defender previously, and had just announced her intention to go back to the PD's office (the chief public defender, whom she did not like, had retired, so she felt it was a good time to go back). She was a great prosecutor and a really nice person, and I asked her how she could go back and defend people that she knew were guilty. She said, "Because of these." She took an envelope out of her purse. Inside was a single piece of yellow legal pad paper with six names written on it. All the names were written in a different ink, and were unevenly faded, so they had been written at different times. None of the names meant anything to me..."These are people that really didn''t do it," she said. "During the preparation for trial, I found evidence that exonerated them and proved that they couldn''t have committed the crimes they were charged with. If there hadn't been anyone to speak for them, they would have been punished for something they didn't do. I may defend a lot of guilty people, but I don't ever want to see an innocent person go to jail." Food for thought.
                        I've written this before, but actually, Public Defenders are the only attorneys who CAN use the excuse that they're protecting anybody's rights by defending those who are genuinely guilty of doing what the State must prove they did at trial. It's the private defense attorneys I have a problem with in that regard.

                        Private defense attorneys COULD (and should) limit their practice to clients who don't commit reprehensible crimes and simply reject potential clients who do commit reprehensible crimes, but nobody actually does that. Private attorneys could also represent anybody they genuinely believe innocent of reprehensible crimes of which they're accused but refuse to assist the ones who are obviously guilty, but nobody does that either. There's no excuse for private attorneys assisting mob bosses, child abusers, cop killers, etc. Their rights should be protected as best as they can be by their assigned Public Defenders. Same goes for corporate attorneys who use their talents to insulate tobacco companies from liability for all the harm they do to society, and so forth.

                        Public Defenders indeed get a free pass on the moral question of defending those "probably" guilty of morally outrageous crimes, because their role is defined by our Constitution, whose criminal procedure rights are founded upon the moral of Tim's story that it's better to lose ten deserved convictions than to punish one innocent person. Public Defenders don't get to choose their clients and are bound by an oath to do their best to defend all of them by forcing the State to prove their case irrespective of whether or not their clients actually did whatever they're being prosecuted for.

                        Private attorneys, on the other hand, who choose to represent scum (whether for criminal or civil scummy conduct)...are scum. Private attorneys who defend people like OJ Simpson and use the argument of "protecting the innocent" are either rationalizing or praying on their audience's gullibility.

                        I didn't have any thoughts about wearing a fancy suit or of any "exciting" lifestyle when I went to law school. I just had this crazy idea about being trained for a JOB for which I had a natural aptitude; and I defined "job" as 40 hrs/week. When I discovered the whole indentured servitude thing, I just switched to trying to figure out what OTHER job I could get with a law degree. Also, in my opinion, whatever your writing ability is, it's something that definitely does come in handy in law school, but it's much less learned there. Also in my opinion, there are two types of law students: those who already think the way lawyers need to think, for whom law school is mostly three years of bar exam prep; and those who DON'T already think like lawyers need to think, who must learn (and practise) it artificially for the first time at the age of 25 (or later). As far as the reputation for a lawyer's obnoxious personality, that is usually someone in the second category. It seems when you learn legal thinking and logical argument reasoning artificially, it's a lot harder to incorporate within a general moral point of view than it is for someone who starts off with a moral basis and a logical mind who already knows how to think at 25 and just learns about law in law school.
                        Last edited by ProWriter; 09-07-2005, 08:39 PM.
                        No longer ignoring anybody here, since that psycho known as "Josey Wales" finally got the boot after being outed as a LE imposter by B&G978. Nice job.

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                        • #13
                          Law school?

                          I'ts decision time. At the time of my retirement, both my Division Chief and another Sergeant were both admitted to the Alabama Bar. Both are long serving state police officers. My suggestion would be to get your degree, apply with a LE agency. If you're hired, see how you like being a cop. If you still want to attend law school, and you want it badly enough, you'll find the time to do it. Over the years, you'll meet many attorneys, quite a few former cops. Believe it or not, you'll learn from these attorneys, and find that many of them can be quite helpful to you in your career. Believe me, yours is not a bad choice to have to make.

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