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I'm currently a high school student and I aspire to become a prosecuting attorney. Are there any things I can/should be doing now to prepare and be more qualified for that position? Any advice on that area is welcome!

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I am a ninth grader going to a prestigious college-prep based high school. I aspire to become a prosecuting attorney for a life career and plan on interning with any lawyer as I get closer to high-school graduation. I am researching any actions I can take to further be prepared for either college or interning. Any advice would be appreciated on this subject.
#college #law #lawyer #law-enforcement #criminal-justice #law-school

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Kim’s Answer

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Faith,

I would recommend that you become really good at public speaking, perhaps join the local Toastmaster's/Toastmistress organization if they accept teenagers. Get involved in debate.

Above all else, truly learn grammar. I have seen too many cases that came down to a discussion on the structure of the sentence and parts of speech, and they made absolutely no sense to me!

As we are moving (hopefully) more towards alternative sentencing, you will want to understand some of the social problems we, as a society, are facing. Drugs and alcohol, veteran's problems, recidivism, re-employment problems faced by ex-cons, etc. The jails and prisons are over-crowded, people who go there meet other "bad" people and sometimes turn more towards crime than they would have had we kept them out of prison. Sending someone to prison is hard on families, may make them have to turn to welfare, etc.

I am a retired police officer. Yes, we still need to lock up some people. But, sometimes, there are alternatives. I think we are starting to realize this, and think as a prosecutor you should have an understanding of the whole process, and not just the prosecutor's role.


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Kevin T.’s Answer

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Hi Faith,

I applaud your desire to join the legal profession. It can be fun and rewarding and mentally and emotionally challenging and stimulating.

For context, I have spent a career practicing intellectual property law, and have had a few trials and oral arguments in court during my career. I agree with Kim's answer above that practicing writing and public speaking is a very good idea. As a prosecutor, you will write a lot of briefs to the court and stand-up and argue before judges and juries, so you have to be comfortable doing that and the best way to get comfortable is to do it over and over again.

I also suggest that you go watch a few trials at your local courthouse. They are typically open and public events, and you can sit in the gallery and watch what people do and what happens in the courtroom.

While there, you can talk to attorneys after they are done presenting their case (not before as they will be very focused on what it is they have to do). Introduce yourself and tell them you are thinking about a career in law as a criminal prosecutor and ask them what they like about their jobs, what they don't like, and why. Ask them for their business cards and ask if you can visit their offices so you understand the context of the job better. Maybe one of those contacts will lead to an internship for you.

You can also research people who are criminal prosecutors to see what they studied in college and where they went to law school. LinkedIn would be a good source of information. They have established the path to success, and you just need to follow it.

You can also research law school courses such as criminal law and criminal procedure and constitutional law. Visit the website of your local law school and read about those courses and what you will learn in them and make sure that interests you.

I hope this helps ... good luck in your studies!


Kevin T. recommends the following next steps:

  • Go see a few trials!
  • Introduce yourself to attorneys after they have argued and ask them about their experiences.
  • Review the bios of criminal prosecutors on LinkedIn to see what they studied and where they went to law school.
  • Review the course descriptions for criminal law, criminal procedure and constitutional law available on law school websites.
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