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What should I do ?

To become a criminal defense attorney, I am currently studying criminal justice and was studying psych. However, I am dropping psych since they are so closely related. I was advised to do either Business Management, Accounting, or a science. I am awful at math and always have been. What other options would I have? What would look good applying for law schools?

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Joseph R.’s Answer

This depends on how you perceive your path in the legal field will evolve. First, the others are correct, the majors rarely matter, it is about the GPA. Also, the LSAT is falling out of favor, but is has been traditionally a good indicator of your success in law school (logical reasoning, logic games (the shifting of rules), and reading comprehension), and to my knowledge, is still largely relied upon to for scholarships distribution. The main take away from the LSAT is that the logical reasoning sections make up 2/4 (50%) of the LSAT. From my experience, as a history major, the undergraduate majors of my law class were primarily english, political science, business, and other social sciences. That being said, I would suggest taking philosophy courses in addition to the major you choose.

As it relates to your career in law, there is a significant difference between private practice firm life and solo practice, though the business side thereof is likely inevitable. While a firm, and there are now many different types of firm management, though the traditional law firm structure remains to be the corner stone of the legal industry, initially runs the business side (accounting, mass marketing, hiring/firing of support staff, etc) while you are expected to pump out a tremendous amount of hours as well as bring in clients, there will be, at some point, an point you are expected to evolve at a firm and you will either be pushed out or ushered into the partnership tract and at that point you will run into the business side of the firm. As a solo, you would be responsible for doing it all yourself. Accordingly, it is advisable to take business courses for a non-business major so that you at least have a basis of information to lean on in either situation.

Hope that helps! Good luck!
Thank you comment icon Hi Joseph - thanks, and welcome to CareerVillage! Kim Kim Igleheart
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Boyd’s Answer

I’d have to agree with Kim above, any major would be acceptable. Your choices of either Criminal Justice or Psych are both good choices. From a slightly different perspective, though, I would very much recommend something besides just Criminal Justice for purposes of versatility. A Criminal Justice degree, while usable in the legal world, is not very usable anywhere else other than just to have a degree. Obviously your goal is to be an attorney so it will always be usable in that regard. I just personally like the versatility of degrees like psych, or those that Kim mentioned above especially; business, accounting, or economics. Those degrees are extremely versatile and sought after. Just trying to provide a different perspective also.

Hope this helps!
Thank you comment icon Thank you for the advice, Boyd. kayla
Thank you comment icon Boyd, Welcome to CareerVillage - thanks for joining! It's great having fellow LEOs on this site, and your answers are insightful. Kim Kim Igleheart
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Kim’s Answer

Kayla,
It's not about "What looks good." ANY major is acceptable.

Here are some criminal offenses you might be defending:
Narcotics - how did the lab do the testing? Is the testing valid?
Embezzlement - oops, there's the accounting!
Vehicular Manslaughter - reaction times, tire tread, weather, road surface - when was it last re-paved? vehicle's brakes, etc.
Eyewitness Testimony - offense at night, what color was the shirt? What kind of street lights are there? What effect do those bulbs have on color perception?

You are not always going to be able to afford to hire expert witnesses. You need to at least be able to do a preliminary evaluation to determine if the case is even worth taking!

So, this is why I recommend something else. Get some background that can actually help you when you become a practicing attorney. It really is wide open.

And please, discuss this with your advisor! Don't change your whole plan based on just what I say - please!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for your input. I will speak to my advisor! kayla
Thank you comment icon Great! Does your school have a pre-law program? That advisor would be the best one to speak with. Also, I know for now you are destined to be a defense attorney, but, plans do change. If not an attorney, what would you want to be doing? That might be the best thing to major in. Your "Plan B." Kim Igleheart
Thank you comment icon I would want to do something involving criminal behavior. I am unsure if they have a program. I know they have pre-law advisors. I go to Florida State University. kayla
Thank you comment icon Then I'd keep the CRJ major, and add a minor in Data Analytics, Public Administration, or Crime Scene Investigation. All 3 would serve you well in landing a job in a city or county law enforcement agency, should the need arise, as would the certificate in Public Policy. I really don't see a need for a second major, but, would recommend rounding out your resume with activities and leadership roles. (your school has so much to offer - you are so lucky!!) Kim Igleheart
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Baljit’s Answer

Hi Kayla,
There is no right answer on what major to take as most are acceptable. Also accounting does not require a math in depth. It's just numbers that are plugged in a spreadsheet most of the time, so that may still be an option for you. Some of the subjects that I took for Law School that my advisor told me to take were Sociology, Accounting and Law classes. It worked out as I could apply what I learnt to the law degree that I completed.
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Atul’s Answer

If you want to become a lawyer - first get an undergraduate degree in liberal arts which will allow you to study for the LSAT exam. You have to score well in this exam before applying for a law school.
I hope you like reading and good at English language to grasp and understand the legal vocabulary.
If you want to pursue your dream to become a lawyer 1) get good GPA for BA and 2) study hard to score well for the LSAT exam to get admission in the law school.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for taking the time to help. kayla
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