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If I wanted to be a lawyer and professional orchestral musician, what are some schools I should look at and how should I go about that with the college process?

I’m a junior in high school that plays classical cello and wants to pursue law. I want to double-major in music performance and either a major that’ll help me with law or doing a pre-law program. I want to look outside of conservatory-ivy league partnerships. #music #law #lawyer #college #classicalmusician #law-school

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Karen’s Answer

Hi Heather,

Community colleges offer music associate programs for a fraction of the price you would pay at a 4-year institution, this is 50% of getting your bachelor's degree. So you could do that to start higher education while saving money that you later would invest in continuing your education. You can also be part of Mass Transfer which helps students with this kind of transition from 2-year to 4-year institutions.
With law degrees, I know students who start with a criminal justice associate to later pursue a career in law, so it depends on what you want to do.
I personally like to connect my students with program advisors so that they can get a different perspective from someone that not only teaches what they will learn but also works in the field.
Hope this helps.

Karen Ruiz Leon
Berkshire Community College
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Christopher’s Answer

Do you want to specialize in any particular area of the law? For example, if you wish to be an intellectual property attorney, it's critical to have the right undergraduate degree. That would include areas such as chemistry, computer science, engineering, etc. If you wish to specialize in Tax Law, then an accounting degree is required. You can leverage your musical studies in an entertainment law practice, or Intellectual property practice focusing on music. An excellent preparation for law school is any undergraduate course the requires expository writing. You will do a lot of writing in law school, especially if you are invited to join Law Review or any of the journals.

Chris O'Brien Esquire
Member of Massachusetts Bar
New England Law 1995

Christopher recommends the following next steps:

Research the different practice areas of law and determine what you are most interested in.
Talk to lawyers who practice in that area. You State Bar association will help you identify candidates.
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Lani’s Answer

Start connecting with professionals in the legal field or music field. People are flattered when asked about what they do and you can surely get the most accurate information. Try making connections on LinkedIn. Meetup.com is another resource for connecting with like-minded people. Also, connect with people from your hometown.
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Seth’s Answer

Hi Heather -

One thing to keep in mind is that really you can do any major in undergrad before going to law school -- anything you need to be a lawyer, you'll learn in law school. Law schools also love diverse backgrounds. There may not be many people with a music background that want to go into law school - so that can give you a competitive edge. This background could also help you in law fields like entertainment law and copyright. With all this said, consider just following your passion in undergrad, then leverage that when you do eventually become a lawyer. Good luck!!
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Mitchell’s Answer

Take classes that require lots of writing (of any kind), and speaking or debate. I don't know the music world, but many colleges have both law and music departments. Your undergraduate degree doesn't need to be "pre law." I think a journalism/mass communications degree, or any writing degree, or political science, are among the many that can help prepare you for law school.
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Sebastian’s Answer

Hi! I struggled with the same question when I was applying to college. There are a lot of universities and colleges that have excellent music programs; its important to do a little research and find schools that have a robust music faculty and programs (orchestra, chamber music, private instruction etc.). Some may have one but not the other, so poke around and see what the universities/colleges that you're considering have to offer. With respect to a major, my advice is always pursue your interest. You'll be more engaged and do better which will in turn help your application. Law schools get plenty of political science/history major applicants so if you're more interested in another field, focus on that and do as well as you can. As someone mentioned earlier, there are specialty areas like patents/tax where having a particular background either helps or is required but other than that, most liberal arts majors will require a lot of reading and writing which is what you'll be doing in law school.

As you get closer to deciding on a career its important to know that it will be hard to be both a music professional (e.g., playing in orchestra) and practice law. At that level, both require full time commitment and focus. That being said, there are a lot of semi-professional and amateur musical organizations that give professionals an outlet to continue enjoying studying and performing music even if they're not making a career out of it.

Just so you have a sense of my path, I ended up majoring in music and political science at a liberal arts college, got an artist diploma in piano performance, went to law school, and have been practicing law since then, first as a clerk, then at a couple of firms, and lastly in-house at a company. I've also kept up my playing and found others like me, that have non-music careers or professions, but who also studied music and we play chamber music together. I don't play as well as I would like, but more than anything, I love playing so I make time for it.

Best of luck with your decision and whatever you do, keep playing your cello!
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Julie’s Answer

This is a great question. The good news is there is no one major that you need for law school. Many law schools will take almost any major. Many music schools also have a music business programs, those programs often cover many of the legal issues associated with music as well. Belmont University in Nashville has a great program that one of our lawyers attended. I would look for classes that support lawyer skills as well -- reading, analytical thinking, and reasoning. Your career in performing will help as a lawyer -- confidence in performing and public performances will help support needed legal skills too! One call out, although we love the combination, these are two very full time careers. Be sure to think about how those passions can co-exist in daily life.
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