Examination and Practice to Interpreting Law

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On the road to a career as a federal judge, my criminal justice degree would function as the catalyst merging paralegal, attorney, and state judicial bench experiences. Federal judgeship is a demanding, tumultuous challenge requiring absolute dedication towards life-long education; exquisite understanding of the nuances of legal proceedings; jurisprudence, precedence, and determination to be an instrument of justice and doing the right thing every time, with neutrality to anything, but interpretation of law as written.

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As quoted by Caroline Kennedy, “The bedrock of our democracy is the rule of law. That means we have to have an independent judiciary. Judges who can make decisions, independent of the political winds that are blowing. ” How poignant, given today’s society. I offer the confirmation hearing of Kavanaugh as evidence the winds are blowing at hurricane strength in today’s political climate. All decent attorneys desire justice and have an inner voice driving them to do the right thing and exhume justice. However, as an attorney in practice, one must advocate for the client regardless whether the argument or defense lines up with the right thing. The duties and responsibilities of an attorney is spent reviewing documents or preparing responses, tasks seeming to have little or nothing to do with actual justice in the classic sense. Existential to the career and the categorical responsibility to delivering justice a judge, abdicates the attorney’s legal permutations of precedence or castigations and solely interprets the law as it pertains to the case on the bench, every time.

So how does one go from a fledgling Criminal Justice major to wearing the black robe of a federal justice? The paths are many, but all long. An inoculation to the legal field, quickly steeping one in legal research, procedure, and client interaction would be a paralegal. Typical paralegal activities include investigating facets of cases, examining legal precedents, drafting pleadings and motions, creating in depth and cross-referenced trial notebooks, and assisting attorneys during trials. Requirements and certifications are not universal and vary by state. Most community colleges offer two-year paralegal Associate programs, however, Universities feature a four-year Bachelor program, and many offer Master Degrees. The National Federation of Paralegals Association emphasizes employers increasingly require paralegals hold a four-year degree. As such, 64% currently employed hold paralegal bachelor degrees. Much like attorneys, most paralegals specialize within a field, such as criminal law, family law, immigration, or corporate litigation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates heavy growth for paralegals over the next decade. Specifically, the BLS predicts over 26% growth and over 40,000 new job openings for paralegals in the next ten years. The figure below shows the mean salary for specialized paralegals. [image: image1. png]While a paralegal will examine the legal field, one cannot be a judge without a license to practice law, one needs to have a law degree. Every law school requires an individual to obtain an undergraduate degree and maintain above a 3. 0 GPA.

There are no restictions to the type of undergrate degree, be it physics, history, or accounting, except for those entering propery law. Acceptance into any law school requires passing the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Testing assesses an individual’s verbal reasoning skills and acquired reading skills. Most law programs place the the same weight as the Bacholar GPA on the LSAT result. Three years is the typical path toward a Juris Doctor degree, but additional testing requirements are necessary before obtaining license to practice law. A 60 question multiple choice exm, the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), must be pased before a fledling J. D. can write the bar. Passing the bar exam is the final step to enabling one to obtain a practicing law liscence as a lawyer, attorney, or esquire. The avearage passing rate is only 40%. Most attorneys practice in a niche law area. With law being inherently complex, no attorney could effectively understand all facets of every manner of law.

Some attorneys set up a general practice, but even those are tailored to the legal needs of small businesses or individual clients. According to the 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with an estimated job growth of 9% over the next 10 years, there were 792,500 practicing attornies across the U. S. The annual salary of an attorney is reported to be $118,000/yr, but with no demonstrative statistics detailing the span of salaries the mean, median or mode is irrevelant. For example, William Lerach, pocketed $2. 3 billion in the Enron settlement, other attorneys struggle to make $30,000 with a new practice. From a paralegal, examing the law, an attorney practcing the law, to a judge interpreting the law, what is further requireed to realize this apex of federal judicial responsibilty? To be a federal judge, you now leave the legal sphere and coelece with the political juggernaut. Judges are either elected or appointed. Those Federal judges appointed by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate, serve a life term. Potential nominees are usually recommended by members of the Senate from the President's political party. The Senate Judiciary Committee is responsible for conducting confirmation hearings for each nominee. In this framework, whom you know as well as your political leanings count. The Appointments Clause of the Constitution vests the President with the authority to nominate people to federal judgeships, and the Senate the authority to give “Advice and Consent” on nominations to the federal bench. Adriotly navigating this path requires four skills: respect, experience, people skills, and efficiency. Respect: An abilty to maintain patience and courtesy under stress. Experience: Your every case decision will be examined, be ready to defend every decision. People Skills: Listen to problems, emotions, demands, opinions and find a reasonable, legally appropriate, and socially responsible resolution that changes lives for the better.

A judgeship generates a sense of personal acknowledgement and nurturing self-esteem. Often viewed as the foci of attention at the courthouse, receiving veneration, and deference from attorneys, staff personnel, federally nominated judges are often quietly and politically criticized A judicial career often results in a loss of ego, or more accurately personal identity. In private life, the change may not be dramatic, but adapting and curtailing social lives to accommodate public perceptions of appropriate behavior and ethical expectations are demanded in today’s society. In their judicial capacity, judges are bound to act impartially, without emotion, and without revealing their personal feelings. The person under the robe is not speaking or acting as a person but as a judge, undifferentiated from all other judges. A tough yoke to bear, but one I intend to bear willingly. Eloquently spoken by Margaret Sanger, “The law today is absolute and inexorable — it has even set itself above Justice, whose instrument it was intended to be. In earliest times, there was no elaborate code of law; there was but a simple idea of justice.”

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