Law School Discussion

Need assistance in chosing how to become a Defense Attorney

Need assistance in chosing how to become a Defense Attorney
« on: September 14, 2010, 11:15:31 AM »
My daughter is a Sr. in High School and would like to pursue a career as a Defense Attorney.  Any suggestions as to what college she should apply to and what major.  I understand Pre-Law is not the way to go. She would love to attend the University of Miami in Fla. but her GPA is under a 3.0 which means she doesn't have much to choose from.  Any help would be appreciated since this is our first college bound child and I have alot to learn.

bigs5068

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Re: Need assistance in chosing how to become a Defense Attorney
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2010, 11:54:10 AM »
Generally speaking whatever school your daughter chooses will not make that much of a difference. Law schools will look at an applicant's cumulative undergraduate GPA and LSAT score. This is all to satisfy the U.S. News Rankings, which is a pretty bogus system, but it is very important to schools.  Generally how a school will try to become more competitive is to have high index numbers for their incoming class this formula is measured by UGPA and LSAT score. The UGPA could be a 4.0 in basketball weaving from Timbuktu State or a 4.0 in Molecular Biology from Harvard in regards to the index the 4.0 is all that will matter.

So in reality she should go to a school that she feels comfortable with and Pre-Law is not a bad major, but if she changes her mind as many 18 year old kids tend to do she may have gone down a path that limits her options.  To get admitted to law school you can have any major it doesn't matter to an admissions committee again it all comes down to the index number. However, it would certainly be good for your daughter to take some electives that are law related to get some exposure to the law and if she really likes it before spending another 3 years of her life and a ton of money. One thing that really helps if you are in undergraduate is to puff up your GPA a little bit do not go to extremes, but if you take a few b.s. class like Frisbee Golf, weightlifting, etc that just generate some free A's her GPA will go up and that can lead to scholarship money to law school if she does decently on her LSAT. As you can see the system can be manipulated a little bit and it is kind of messed up, but it is the way it is.

jack24

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Re: Need assistance in chosing how to become a Defense Attorney
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2010, 09:03:24 AM »
There are many different ways to become a defense attorney.  Is she only interested at this point in criminal defense?  Would she like to do insurance defense or other civil litigation?

I live in a metropolitan area with around 1.5 million people.  There are several large courthouses in the area.  Cities with multiple large judicial districts are good places to start.  I currently work as a prosecutor in one of those offices, and nearly half of the defense attorneys in the area worked for a D.A.'s office at some point in their legal career.  An internship or entry level job at the prosecutors office will provide a ton of litigation experience and will teach your daughter how to work in the local court system (which is where most criminal defendants are tried).

The best way to get a job as a prosecutor is to go to one of the best law schools in a given area. 
For example: The law school at Southern Methodist University is one of the top three law schools in Texas and it's located in Dallas.  The Dallas market is huge and there are probably several different courthouses where your daughter could find an internship.  After she gets some experience, she could either join an existing practice, start a partnership, or just go out on her own.  She might have to start by taking court appointments (and she probably wouldn't make a lot at first).

The U.S. News ranking for law schools is not the only factor, but it can be important.  The most important thing is to find a law school that is well respected near a large metropolitan area.
This is just one way she could approach it.  She may want to be a country lawyer.  If that's the case, you can probably forget everything I wrote.

Also, it's very possible she'll change her mind once she gets to law school.

 

 

Re: Need assistance in chosing how to become a Defense Attorney
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2010, 09:23:12 AM »

Also, it's very possible she'll change her mind once she gets to law school.

 

This, I believe, is the most important advice I could give.  I usually advise that prospective lawyers not plan their studies around a planned legal career, because many who desire to go to law school end up not practicing law (whether or not they go to law school).  To plan your studies around a particular sub-specialty within the law would be to put all your eggs in a basked on top of your car as you race down the freeway.

Just about every attorney I know is not in the practice they thought they would be, and most have changed paths several times during their careers.

I, for instance, entered law school intending to be a litigator.  In fact, I specifically wanted to be a defense attorney, specializing in representing wealthy-yet-innocent murder defendants.  As it turns out, there is a shortage of those, so I changed my career plans.

Some planning ahead is good and required - but don't plan on too specific of a result.

Good luck.

Re: Need assistance in chosing how to become a Defense Attorney
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2010, 06:04:08 PM »
Criminal defense is easy to get into.  Be a mediocre student, get no job offers, do some internships with a county prosecutor's office, hang out with the druggie crowd, graduate, pass the bar, and set up shop.  Sit around the courthouse and throw her card at the gang members waiting their turns in the dock.  She'll be rolling in DUI defense and begging for leniency for child molesters before she knows it.

louiebstef

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Re: Need assistance in chosing how to become a Defense Attorney
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2010, 10:37:55 AM »

Also, it's very possible she'll change her mind once she gets to law school.

 

I, for instance, entered law school intending to be a litigator.  In fact, I specifically wanted to be a defense attorney, specializing in representing wealthy-yet-innocent murder defendants.  As it turns out, there is a shortage of those, so I changed my career plans.


Morten,

I seriously laughed out loud when reading that passage...

You forgot to tell OP that you now spend your time tilting at windmills.
;)